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Magnesium and Gut Health: What You Need to Know

magnesium-kids-gut-health

Did you know that magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, including digestion and gut health [1,3]? Magnesium is an important nutrient for health because it helps muscle and bone function, support digestive health, and regulates the nervous system [2]. Magnesium is particularly important in the early years when our little ones are still growing because the nervous system is still maturing. The human body cannot make magnesium, so we have to get it through either the foods we eat or through supplements. Studies have found that even if our little ones are consuming excess food, they still might not be getting enough of their minerals, including magnesium [12]. While Growing Up Prebiotics can help create softer stools and be a part of your kid’s constipation relief strategy [8], it's also important to understand how magnesium can also support their overall digestive health. In this article, we will explain the connection between magnesium and gut health and how we can include it into our kid’s diets.

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is one of the seven macro-minerals including:

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Chloride
  • Sulfur

These macro-minerals work together to maintain processes in the body such as hormone production, nervous system regulation, and supporting proper functioning of our organs [10].

Magnesium is involved in hundreds of different metabolic reactions in the body to help stay healthy, with several of those processes related to supporting digestion [7]. Studies have shown that a higher magnesium intake is associated with: reduced risk of several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes [4,5].

How does magnesium support gut health?

Magnesium is one of the important electrolytes needed to keep our body properly hydrated and maintain fluid balance. When we digest food, magnesium helps with water absorption and promotes contractions called peristalsis in our intestines, which aids in proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Peristalsis allows for the muscles in the stomach to contract and relax. This results in softer, more frequent stools and easier passage [9]. Studies suggest that a lack of magnesium can cause constipation and other gastrointestinal related symptoms [6].

[Key Takeaway 1]
Maintaining a consistent intake of magnesium can help support overall gut health by promoting the formation of softer and easier-to-pass stools.

Magnesium, Gut Health, and Immunity: It’s all Connected

Magnesium is essential for Vitamin D absorption. There’s evidence that shows that maintaining a proper Vitamin D intake may support a healthy gut microbiota [7]. This is important because 70% of our immune system is located in our gut. Ensuring that your toddler’s and kid’s diet is rich in magnesium can help support not only digestive health, but overall immunity as well.

It’s worth noting that different types of magnesium have varying uses. One of the most common magnesium forms for constipation relief is Magnesium Citrate, which can help soften the stool and provide a laxative effect. Always consult with your personal healthcare provider before adding any nutritional supplements to your toddler or kid’s routine.

[Key Takeaway 2]
Maintaining a consistent intake of magnesium can also support our kid’s overall immunity, as 70% of our immune system is found in the gut.

How much magnesium does my kid need?

Below is the average daily recommended amount of magnesium (in milligrams) by National Institute of Health:

Life Stage

Recommended Amount

Birth to 6 months

30 mg

Infants 7-12 months

75 mg

Children 1-3 years

80 mg

Children 4-8 years

130 mg

Children 9-13 years

240 mg


Remember, magnesium is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to building a healthy nutrition routine for our kid’s gut health. Our Growing Up Prebiotics contains 3 grams of fiber per serving, which can help support a regular pooping schedule, softer stools, and improved friendly bacteria in the gut [11].

What Foods Contain Magnesium?

Food sources of magnesium include:

  • Avocados
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Dark leafy greens like spinach or swiss chard
  • Almond butter
  • Dried prunes
  • White or Black Beans
  • Salmon

How much magnesium is in these foods?

The following chart lists the percent of the recommended daily intake for magnesium that each serving of these foods provides:

Food Source and Serving Size

% RDI for Magnesium (Ages 1-3)

% RDI for Magnesium (Ages 4-8)

Avocado, 1 medium

36%

22%

Greek yogurt, plain - ¾ cup

31%

19%

Spinach, cooked - 1 cup

196%

121%

Almond butter, 2 tbsp

113%

69%

Dried prunes (1 ounce = 5 pieces)

51%

32%

White beans, 1 cup cooked

150%

92%

Salmon, 3 ounces

33%

20%


These percentages are approximate values based on average serving sizes and can vary depending on the specific nutrient composition of the food and variations in serving sizes.

Final Thoughts:

Magnesium plays an important role in digestion and gut health. It helps support fluid balance and nutrient absorption in the body. Incorporating a balanced nutrition routine that includes both fiber-rich foods and magnesium rich foods may be helpful as additional support for constipation. For more information about the different types of magnesium, check out our blog on the Best Types of Magnesium for a Healthy Digestion.

References:

[1] National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2019). Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. In StatPearls [Internet]. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507249/ (Accessed: June 20, 2023).

[2] Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. (2021). Magnesium - Fact Sheet for Consumers. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/ (Accessed: June 20, 2023).

[3] Fang, X., Wang, K., Han, D., He, X., Wei, J., Zhao, L., Imam, M. U., Ping, Z., Li, Y., Xu, Y., Min, J., & Wang, F. (2016). Dietary magnesium intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality: a dose–response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMC Medicine, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-016-0742-z

[4] De Baaij, J. H. F., Hoenderop, J. G. J., & Bindels, R. J. M. (2015). Magnesium in Man: Implications for Health and Disease. Physiological Reviews, 95(1), 1–46. https://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.00012.2014

[5] Veronese, N., et al. (2021). Dietary Magnesium Intake and Risk of Chronic Diseases: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. Nutrients, 13(4), 1343. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8707433/

[6] Sanada, K., Nakajima, S., Kurokawa, S., Barceló-Soler, A., Ikuse, D., Hirata, A., Yoshizawa, A., Tomizawa, Y., Salas-Valero, M., Blumberger, D. M., Mimura, M., Iwanami, A., & Kishimoto, T. (2020). Gut microbiota and major depressive disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 266, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2020.01.102

[7] Wang, J., et al. (2020). Magnesium and Intestinal Microbiota in Health and Disease. Magnesium Research, 33(3), 101-114. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7322162/

[8] Wernimont, S. M., Northington, R. M., Kullen, M. J., Yao, M., & Bettler, J. (2014). Effect of an α-Lactalbumin-Enriched Infant Formula Supplemented With Oligofructose on Fecal Microbiota, Stool Characteristics, and Hydration Status. Clinical Pediatrics, 54(4), 359–370. https://doi.org/10.1177/0009922814553433

[9] Mori, H., Tack, J., & Suzuki, H. (2021). Magnesium oxide in constipation. Nutrients, 13(2), 421. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13020421

[10] Farag, M. A., Abib, B., Qin, Z., Ze, X., & Ali, S. E. (2023). Dietary macrominerals: Updated review of their role and orchestration in human nutrition throughout the life cycle with sex differences. Current Research in Food Science, 100450. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crfs.2023.100450

[11] Closa-Monasterolo, R., Ferré, N., Castillejo-DeVillasante, G., Luque, V., Gispert-Llauradó, M., Zaragoza-Jordana, M., Theis, S., & Escribano, J. (2016b). The use of inulin-type fructans improves stool consistency in constipated children. A randomised clinical trial: pilot study. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 68(5), 587–594. https://doi.org/10.1080/09637486.2016.1263605

[12] DiNicolantonio, J. J., O’Keefe, J. H., & Wilson, W. J. (2018). Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart, 5(1), e000668. https://doi.org/10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668

May Zhu, RDN

May Zhu, RDN

May is the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and nutrition expert at Begin Health.



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