How to recognise magnesium deficiency in kids

How to Recognise Magnesium Deficiency in Kids

Did you know that 1 in 3 Australians over the age of 2 do not get enough magnesium?

According to the Australian Bureau of statistics this gets worse in Australian children aged 14 – 18 years with 65% receiving inadequate intake.[i]


How could this be affecting our children and what can we do about it?

Magnesium is important for the healthy functioning of the muscles, nervous system, immunity, cardio vascular system as well as the development of teeth and bones[ii].

Children with magnesium deficiency could display any of the following symptoms:

  • Muscle weakness and muscle cramps
  • Poor sleep
  • Tiredness
  • Apathy and low mood
  • Irritability or excitability
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Decreased attention span and poor concentration[iii]

How many of us have had tired, cranky children only to put them to bed and then have leg cramps keep them awake for hours? Could their weekly whine that ‘I don’t want to go to soccer training’ really be the result of a nutrient deficiency? Your kids don’t like school or ‘can’t remember’ what they did at school that day? Or does everyone tell you your teenager’s mood swings are ‘just hormones’. Could your child be falling into the national deficiency statistics?


Topping Up Your Child’s Magnesium Through Food

The WHO recommends focusing on green vegetables, legumes, seeds, beans, and nuts which are rich in magnesium, as are some shellfish, all of which usually contain more than 500mg/kg.  Although most unrefined cereal grains are reasonable sources, many highly-refined flours, fruits, and most oils and fats contribute little dietary magnesium (<100mg/kg fresh weight).[iv]

While supplements cannot replace a healthy diet, they can be helpful in some cases and there are many to choose from on the market! Magnesium oxide is used very commonly as it is a relatively inexpensive ingredient, however research on bioavailability tends to indicate that forms such as magnesium citrate and orotate are better absorbed by the body.[v]

If you have any ongoing concerns or questions about your child’s health, please seek the advice of your general physician or health care provider.


How Much Magnesium Do They Require?

Magnesium Requirements in Children
1-3 yr 80 mg/day
4-8 yr 130 mg/day
9-13 yr 240 mg/day
14-18 yr 410 mg/day
9-13 yr 240 mg/day
14-18 yr 360 mg/day
NHMRC  Recommended Daily Intakes






[ii] Zimmermann M. Burgerstein’s handbook of nutrition. Stuttgart: George Thieme Verlag (GE); 2000

[iii] Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs & natural supplements: an evidence-based guide 3rd ed. Sydney (AU), Churchill Livingstone. 2010

[iv] WHO. Vitamin and mineral requirements in human nutrition : Second Ed. Thailand, 2004

[v] Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs & natural supplements: an evidence-based guide 3rd ed. Sydney (AU), Churchill Livingstone. 2010