Magnesium for plant-based kids! Everything you need to know about magnesium sources and benefits on a predominantly plant-based diet.
Adults may know magnesium best as a calming agent, as we pour it into our bubble baths and rub magnesium balm on achy muscles. Of course, this mineral does so much more than that, especially for our growing kiddos.
Here’s why magnesium matters so much, how much kids need in a day, and some of the best places to find it on a predominantly plant-based diet.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral abundant in our bodies that’s also found in certain foods and dietary supplements.
It’s involved in over 300 processes in the body, such as those related to muscle and nerve function, blood pressure and blood sugar control, and making proteins and antioxidants.
Magnesium is also essential for bone health, as this is where the majority of this mineral is stored in the body. It works alongside nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin K, and calcium to help keep bones strong and healthy.
Getting enough magnesium is important in order to support all of the processes above (and more) in our kiddos.
Here’s the breakdown of how much magnesium kids need:
- 0-6 months: 30 mg
- 7-12 months: 75 mg
- 1-3 years: 80 mg
- 4-8 years: 130 mg
- 9-13 years: 240 mg
- 14-18 years: 410 mg for males, 360 mg for females
To give you an idea, here are some examples of how much magnesium you’ll find in foods:
- 1/2 cup kidney beans, canned: 35 mg
- 1 medium apple: 9 mg
- 1 cup soymilk: 61 mg
- 1 oz roasted pumpkin seeds: 156 mg
- 1/2 cup boiled spinach: 78 mg
Magnesium is abundantly found in minimally processed plant foods. Among the best sources of dietary magnesium include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Boiled spinach
- Peanut butter
- Brown rice
Try these ideas for incorporating magnesium-rich foods into your child’s meals and snacks:
- Peanut butter on whole grain toast, sprinkled with chia seeds
- Adding chia seeds to smoothies
- Tossing boiled spinach in with pasta dishes like spaghetti
- Making trail mix with peanuts, cashews, dark chocolate, and dried fruit like raisins or apricots
- Tossing beans into a soup, salad, pasta dish, veggie burger patty, chili, or taco recipe
- Serve a glass of fortified soy milk with each meal
- Air-fry potatoes into fries or crisps as a side
- Opt for brown rice versus white rice
Magnesium can also be found in supplemental form, including some (but not all) children’s multivitamins. If you don’t think your child is getting enough magnesium, check to see whether their multivitamin provides any. If not, a child’s magnesium supplement may be worth speaking with your pediatrician or dietitian about.
While magnesium deficiency is generally rare (because the kidney helps prevent excretion of this mineral if we’re running low on stores), chronically low intake can be problematic.
Early signs may include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. If your child is experiencing these things, always speak to your pediatrician.
There’s also a risk of getting too much magnesium. This is often a result of long-term use of magnesium-containing laxatives, antacids, or high-dose supplements.
The upper level for magnesium among children is 65 mg for kids 1-3 years old, 110 mg for kids 4-8 years old, and 350 mg for kids 9 years and up. Just be aware of any extraneous (non-food) sources of magnesium your child may be receiving regularly.
Overall, the best way to get enough (and not too much!) magnesium for plant-based kids is to eat a varied diet. There are plenty of plant-based magnesium sources that can be offered.
Chime In: What magnesium-rich foods does your family enjoy?
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