Now that you know about the different forms of magnesium, it’s time to answer some of your questions!
Moms at Kitchen Stewardship have been very interested in magnesium for kids this year — we know most people are deficient, we hear magnesium supplements may help sleep, and we want to know more.
Lots of savvy moms are already using magnesium for themselves and their children, and readers shared that they’re finding relief from all of the following:
- poor sleep (easier to fall asleep, sleep longer, more well-rested)
- muscle aches
But we still have questions about the BEST way to deliver magnesium to our families, so I asked Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, a psychologist getting to the bottom of some of the toughest pediatric mental health cases out there, to help us dig deep into the subject of magnesium and why we all need more.
Why Do We Need Magnesium?
Magnesium is so important because it’s the number one most-used nutrient in the human body.
Magnesium is used for over 300 processes in the body, and we just really can’t keep up. Even if we eat super healthy diets, almost all of us need to supplement, myself included.
People tend to be deficient in magnesium because we are stressed. When we’re stressed, our nervous system gets activated and it burns through magnesium at a much faster rate than what most people are taking in.
As a psychologist, I almost never see anybody’s nervous system that’s not activated at a high level. This is a fight, flight, or freeze type activation, and that’s just from everyday chronic stress.
Types of Magnesium
There are many different types of magnesium. Here are seven of the most common:
- magnesium chloride
- magnesium sulfate
- magnesium citrate
- magnesium oxide
- magnesium glycinate
- magnesium orotate
- magnesium L-threonate
We need different types of magnesium because they meet different needs in the body. You can read more here about the specific benefits of eight types of magnesium.
For example, magnesium citrate helps with the bowels. L-threonate is a type of magnesium that crosses the blood-brain barrier and helps you to focus and deepen your sleep. It’s really great for brain function.
You want to rotate your magnesium and use different kinds of magnesium for different reasons.
What Is the Most Bio-available Form of Magnesium for Kids?
All types of magnesium are bio-available; it is easily absorbed. The question is more what form should you use (flakes, lotions, baths, powders, sprays, or capsules).
A bath is a great way to deeply pull magnesium into your body. This is especially helpful for kids. Just add some magnesium flakes to their bath!
For adults, taking an effervescent drink powder or glycine in a capsule is an easy way to incorporate magnesium supplementation. (Here’s a magnesium powder with no added ingredients.)
Because all forms of magnesium are so needed in the body, the body will quickly absorb it. Don’t worry too much about the type at first. Just start using magnesium!
Some people may think the magnesium they’ve been taking hasn’t been effective, but it may be that they’re focusing on the wrong type for that particular complaint.
If you have bowel issues, you need magnesium citrate. (KS10 for 10% off that site!) If you have more cognitive issues related to an underlying neurodevelopmental disorder like ADD or autism, L-threonate is much more what you need, because it goes into the brain. Each one has a different purpose.
If you have a very activated nervous system or a clinical condition, it’s a good idea to take at least two or three types.
Even when someone says they think it’s not helping them, it is helping them. It just might be helping in different ways than what they were initially taking it for.
Why Does Magnesium Lotion Make You Itch?
A lot of people start using the lotions and the sprays with their kids because kids aren’t good at swallowing capsules and then they hear complaints about the itching afterward. What’s up with that?
The itching happens because the magnesium is having difficulty being absorbed by the skin. I’ve heard people say that it has to do with the quality of the magnesium, but I’ve used every type, including at a high-end spa, and there’s always a level of it drying on the skin and causing itchiness.
Here are some of my favorite tips that help:
- Take a bath. The hot water plus magnesium leads to a deep relaxation. It really gets me out of the sympathetic nervous system dominant state and pulls me down into a deep sleep! And it gives the magnesium longer to absorb. Just make sure you’re using magnesium chloride salts. Epsom salts have some magnesium, but not enough to be therapeutic.
- Do a foot soak. If a bath is not optimal, soaking the feet in hot water with magnesium salts is a good alternative. If your kids won’t take a bath, a foot soak works well. The feet absorb minerals quickly. All you need is a small tub with some hot water and magnesium! When I’m traveling, I will even use the hotel’s small trash can and liner for my soak.
- Speaking of feet … using a spray on the feet may itch less than using it all over the skin. Many people can tolerate a spray this way.
- Take it orally. If possible, magnesium capsules or chewables are wonderful too and continue to eat a diet in magnesium-rich foods. Here’s another chewable option.
Magnesium to Help Kids Sleep
As I said, magnesium L-threonate really helps the brain, and that includes bringing it into deep stages of sleep.
We all know moms aren’t getting enough sleep! Anything we can do to help our kids sleep enough and support our own sleep as a mom is only going to help the whole family.
We don’t take care of ourselves enough as moms, and we should. This is an easy, inexpensive way to incorporate self-care.
RELATED: If your kids breathe through their mouths at night, they’re not getting high quality sleep! One inexpensive and simple way to stop mouth breathing.
Will My Kids Get Too Much Magnesium?
Should we worry about buying a lotion, spray, bath, or powder for our kids if they haven’t tested deficient for magnesium? In a word, no.
Everyone can benefit from magnesium. One of the only negative side effects of too much magnesium is a loosening of the bowels, typically associated with magnesium citrate. So if your kids start having loose stools after taking magnesium, guess what? They’re getting too much, and you can back off from it. You don’t need to worry about testing for it.
Magnesium is really helpful for the brain and the body and supports a lot of things. Magnesium gives the body what it needs to work the way it’s supposed to.
When your body works better, you’re able to really work all these internal processes, which makes you and your child more engaged and calm.
For more reading here’s a super thorough post about magnesium and kids from our contributing writer Mary.