May 21, 2019

Hidden Hazard

From breathing problems to nervous agitation, many children in the US suffer ailments for which there are no easily discernible causes.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology reports that 8.3 million children suffer from respiratory allergies. And as many as 1 in 10 kids wrestle with some sort of anxiety disorder, according to the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health.

There may be a unifying factor behind all these maladies—a lack of magnesium.

Mineral of Many Roles

Magnesium is recognized for being calcium’s partner in building strong bones. But that’s only one of the functions performed by magnesium, which is involved in more than 300 metabolic processes.

Most bodily energy production runs through a molecule called ATP in a complex arrangement of chemical pathways. This system requires magnesium to run smoothly.

Besides helping produce the energy muscles need to move, magnesium is also a part of the mechanism that allows them to contract and relax. In fact, this mineral is one of the first nutrients recommended by practitioners to people who suffer from frequent muscle cramps.

This effect extends to the muscle cells within arterial walls, making magnesium crucial to proper circulation and blood pressure control.

Nerves also rely on magnesium, which helps receptors on the surface of brain cells operate correctly. In addition, magnesium helps regulate inflammation, is a cofactor in more than 100 enzymes involved in blood sugar regulation and may even promote wound healing.

Kids at Risk

Many foods contain useful amounts of magnesium, especially beans, seeds, nuts and leafy greens—foods that a lot of children (and adults, for that matter) don’t like to eat. As a result, “dietary surveys of people in the United States consistently show that intakes of magnesium are lower than recommended amounts,” according to the National Institutes of Health.

What’s worse, about a third of all youngsters are overweight. This has been associated with low magnesium; in turn, such deficiency has been linked to insulin resistance, a diabetes risk factor (Indian Pediatrics 2/12, Diabetes Care 5/05).

In fact, a number of health hazards have been tied to magnesium deficits. Kids in one study who consumed inadequate amounts of magnesium were nearly twice as likely to have elevated C-reactive protein, an inflammation marker linked to cardiovascular woes (Magnesium Research 3/07). Low magnesium has been linked to hypertension as well (Journal of Pediatrics 1/16).

Magnesium supplementation has shown itself useful. In one study, magnesium and vitamin B6 was able to calm such signs of nervous system overstimulation as aggression and inattentiveness (Journal of the American College of Nutrition 10/04). Nebulized magnesium has helped children with asthma attacks; one study recommended that hospitals administer it to all children in acute distress (Paediatric Respiratory Reviews 12/14).

Magnesium supplements formulated specifically for children help ensure they get enough of this vital mineral. Such supplements use child-friendly dosages and forms, such as magnesium aspartate, that are readily absorbable.

No one wants to see their kids feeling miserable. Magnesium may help keep them healthy.