Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms in Children

Updated April 17, 2017

Magnesium is a vital nutrient that's needed in the body to produce and transport energy, regulate blood pressure, produce protein, and to contract and relax the muscles. Magnesium is also important for healthy immune function. According to the American Diabetic Association, magnesium deficiency has also been linked to increased insulin resistance in kids. And the U.S. National Library of Medicine acknowledges that, "Magnesium deficiency in children with ADHD occurs more frequently than in healthy children."

Recommended Daily Magnesium Intake

The recommended daily intake of magnesium for children one to three years old is 80 milligrams (mg); 130 mg for kids four to eight-years-old; 240 mg for kids nine to thirteen-years-old; and for adolescents ages 14 to 18, 360 mg for girls, and 410 mg for boys.


Early magnesium deficiency symptoms in kids can include insomnia, irritability, apathy, anorexia, memory problems, learning difficulties, sleepiness, muscle weakness, hyperactivity and confusion. More severe symptoms of magnesium deficiency include rapid heartbeat, muscle twitching, hallucinations, numbness and delirium.


The best way to prevent magnesium deficiency in kids is to feed them a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, as these types of veggies provide the best sources of magnesium. Other foods that are rich in magnesium include whole grains, pumpkin seeds, potatoes with the skin, nuts, beans, legumes, soy, avocados, dried apricots, bananas, oatmeal, and herbs such as basil, dill weed and sage.


A doctor can check the blood levels of magnesium in a child to determine if she is suffering from magnesium deficiency. If the child is deficient in this mineral, the doctor may recommend increasing her daily intake of magnesium-rich foods, or supplementing her diet with supplements. If magnesium levels are severely low, a magnesium drip may be administered by the doctor to restore magnesium levels to normal.


Although magnesium supplements are readily available in stores, too much of this mineral can be toxic, and in extremely high doses it can be fatal to children. Never give a child magnesium supplements without consulting a paediatrician.

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About the Author

Charlina Stewart has been a professional ghostwriter since 2004. Her articles have been published in the "Tyler Morning Telegraph," and on websites such as, Womb to Bloom, Suite 101, and eHow. Stewart has also had articles referenced in the Lamar University Early Child Development Center's Employee Handbook, and the Wilkes County Smart Start Newspaper Column.