Is Magnesium Safe for Children?

In this article, we will take a close look at the safety of magnesium in children. We will discuss its role in sleep regulation, potential side effects, and the recommended dosage. We will also explore the use of magnesium supplements and dietary sources.
Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Graduate medical student at Barts and London.

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Is Magnesium Safe for Children?

Magnesium is generally considered safe for children when administered appropriately. It has been used as a treatment for moderate to severe asthma exacerbations in children, with minor side effects reported such as abdominal or facial warmth, flushing, pain and numbness at the infusion site, dry mouth, a general feeling of being unwell and hypotension [1].

In a study involving the administration of magnesium sulphate to children with severe acute asthma, no adverse events were observed [2]. Another study found that a parenteral nutrition product containing magnesium was safe for full-term neonates and children up to 24 months of age, with a low risk of hypermagnesemia (excess magnesium in the blood) when providing a median parenteral magnesium of 0.2 to 0.3 mmol/kg/day [3].

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In a study involving the administration of magnesium sulphate to children with severe acute asthma, no adverse events were observed [2]. Another study found that a parenteral nutrition product containing magnesium was safe for full-term neonates and children up to 24 months of age, with a low risk of hypermagnesemia (excess magnesium in the blood) when providing a median parenteral magnesium of 0.2 to 0.3 mmol/kg/day [3].

However, it's important to note that the safety of magnesium in children also depends on the dosage and the child's overall health status. For instance, serum magnesium levels were found to be significantly low in children with moderate to severe malnutrition [4].

The Role of Magnesium in Sleep

Magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral that plays a crucial role in many bodily functions, including sleep regulation. It can help muscles relax and relieve stress, which is thought to encourage healthy sleep patterns [5]. Sometimes, magnesium is taken with melatonin to enhance sleep.

However, it is important to consult a doctor before starting any supplements.

Magnesium and Sleep in Children

Research has shown that magnesium can influence sleep behaviour in infants. For instance, a study conducted on full-term newborns found that with increasing magnesium levels, quiet sleep increased, whereas active sleep decreased [6].

In another study, premature neonates with apnea neonatorum, a condition that can disrupt sleep, showed a reduction in apnea after receiving magnesium therapy [7].

The recommended daily intake of magnesium varies by age and sex. For instance, men may take up to 400 mg daily, and women can take up to 300 mg daily [5]. However, the appropriate dosage for children may be lower and should be determined by a healthcare provider.

While magnesium is generally considered safe, it can cause side effects such as stomach and intestinal issues. Therefore, it's recommended to start with a lower dose and gradually increase to see how the body reacts. Taking it with food may reduce any abdominal discomfort [5].

Possible Side Effects of Magnesium in Children

Magnesium is generally considered safe for children, but it can cause side effects. The most common side effects include loose, watery, or more frequent stools, which can be a result of magnesium's laxative effect [8]. Other side effects can include abdominal cramping, vomiting, and diarrhoea [9].

In some cases, children may experience more serious side effects. These can include blood in the stool or an inability to have a bowel movement after use [8].

Serious Side Effects

In rare cases, taking too much magnesium can lead to a dangerous buildup, resulting in serious side effects. These can include irregular heartbeat, unsafe low blood pressure, slowed breathing, and even coma [9].

Ingesting large amounts of magnesium can also lead to magnesium toxicity, a condition that can be fatal. Symptoms of toxicity include nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, irregular heart rate, and cardiac arrest [10].

Side Effects of Prolonged Magnesium Infusion

Prolonged magnesium infusions in children with refractory asthma can lead to clinically significant adverse events. These include hypotension, nausea/vomiting, mild muscle weakness, flushing, and sedation. However, these adverse events were only noted in those receiving infusions for more than 24 hours [11].

While magnesium is generally safe for children, it's important to monitor for potential side effects, especially in cases of prolonged use or high dosage. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting a magnesium supplement regimen for a child.

Magnesium Supplements

The method of giving magnesium to children depends on their age, health status, and the reason for supplementation. Magnesium supplements are available in various forms, including tablets, capsules, and oral solutions. For instance, magnesium citrate is available as an oral solution, which is often used for constipation relief.

Magnesium can usually be combined with other supplements, such as iron or ashwagandha. However, such a combination may not be safe for all people, and therefore it is important to consult a doctor before combining these supplements.

Dietary Sources

In addition to supplements, magnesium can be incorporated into a child's diet through magnesium-rich foods. These include green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and some types of fish.

Conclusion

In conclusion, giving your child magnesium can be done through dietary sources or supplements, depending on their specific needs. Always consult with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage and form of magnesium for your child.

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Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Natasha is a medical student at Barts and the London school of Medicine and Dentistry, with an interest in the social determinants of health. She graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA in Human Sciences and has obtained two publications. Her most recent work investigating clinical vaccine trials has been published in BMJ Public Health.