Do Kids Get Enough Magnesium?

Magnesium needs for kids related to bone mineral density and content

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) The best way for kids to get their vitamins and minerals are through the foods they eat. Magnesium is one nutrient kids can get through their diets.

A recent study found children should probably get about 130 mg of magnesium each day.

This research also found that the amount of magnesium kids get is related to the makeup of minerals in their bones, as well as how dense their bones are.

"Encourage kids to eat healthy foods."

The study, led by Steven A. Abrams, MD, of the pediatrics department of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, looked at children's bone density status and magnesium intake.

The researchers measured how much magnesium 63 children, aged 4 to 8, were taking in based on measuring it in their food over three days.

The parents measured the food before and after the kids ate at home for two days, and the food was measured in the hospital during one day.

The children were not taking any multivitamins or supplements and had filled out food diaries before spending two nights in the hospital, where doctors measured their magnesium and calcium levels.

The researchers also measured how much magnesium the children's bodies absorbed versus how much they released as waste in their urine.

The children's bone mineral content and bone mineral density were then measured using a special kind of x-ray machine.

The researchers found that boys tended to absorb a little more magnesium than girls did. While boys absorbed about 65 percent of the magnesium they consumed, girls absorbed about 59 percent.

However, the boys and girls ended up retaining about the same amount of magnesium overall – about 37 mg/day – because the boys expelled more magnesium in their urine.

The researcher also found that the children's magnesium intake was related to the total bone mineral content and density throughout their bodies, regardless of the child's sex or race/ethnicity.

However, calcium intake did not appear related to the children's bone mineral density or content.

"Lots of nutrients are key for children to have healthy bones," said Dr. Abrams, in a prepared statement about the study. "Calcium is important, but, except for those children and adolescents with very low intakes, may not be more important than magnesium."

The researchers calculated that kids should get approximately 130 mg of magnesium a day to ensure that they absorb and retain about 10 mg per day of the nutrient.

Currently, it's estimated that children require about 110 mg a day.

Foods that contain high amounts of magnesium include bran foods, such as rice, wheat and oat, as well as the seeds of squash, pumpkin, watermelon, sesame, sunflowers and flax.

Dark chocolate, brazil nuts, almonds, cashews and soybeans also contain high amounts of magnesium.

This study's findings are preliminary. It was presented at a conference and has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The research was presented May 5 at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Information regarding funding and disclosures were unavailable.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 3, 2013
Last Updated:
August 13, 2013