My toddler does not sleep well. She has always found sleep to be a troublesome thing because of her health and it’s the first thing out the door when she’s feeling upset about a change (in environment, in development, in routine) or isn’t feeling well. This also means that not only do I not get sleep but I also have to stay the sane, loving, cheerful household executive while taking care of a stompy grumpy dinosaur and being exhausted myself.
Recently my mother suggested trying magnesium, on the same weekend that a friend had posted on social media that she was trialing a magnesium tonic with her young ones. It’s funny, I’ve taken multi-vitamins on and off over the years, I’ve heard about the importance of fish oil (with its Omega 3 and Omega 6) but I’ve never heard about magnesium being an important health thing. Apparently it’s a thing.
I went looking and there are a ton of articles online from paleo blogs, to doctors, to newspaper articles, to online stores, to people sharing their experiences in forums.
So magnesium is an oft overlooked mineral that is responsible for helping calming neurotransmitters in our brain (like GABA ), helping us switch off adrenaline, helping muscle relaxation, hydration, and over 300 enzyme reactions. It can help with cramp, growth spurts, anxiety, and sleep. Taking magnesium isn’t a guarantee that you’ll sleep better but apparently it’s pretty damn hard to sleep well if you have a deficiency.
Are you likely to be deficient in magnesium? That probably depends a lot of what you eat; possibly if you’re mainly eating peanut butter, bread or white rice, and iceberg lettuce. Apparently the following are high in magnesium:
Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, brazil nuts, dulse, filberts, millet, pecans, walnuts, rye, tofu, soy beans, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic.
Our magnesium levels can also apparently be decreased by chronic stress, excess alcohol, salt, coffee, phosphoric acid in colas, profuse sweating, chronic diarrhea, excessive menstruation, diuretics (water pills), antibiotics and other drugs, and some intestinal parasites. Another point of concern will be that the concentrations of magnesium in the plants listed will also be affected by the level of magnesium in the soil they were grown in (which can be quite variable).
There then becomes the question of how to kick start your magnesium. Internet articles suggested avoiding magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide as they are poorly absorbed (and the cheapest and most common forms found in supplements). Apparently magnesium citrate is good (but too much will have you running to the toilet) and magnesium glycinate. There are a number of options for adults when it comes to magnesium pills and powders but these are often not suitable for a toddler.
The option that I settled on for our trial is Floradix Magnesium Tonic. It can be used safely with toddlers (over 12 months) just be careful to read the instructions about dosages as they are on a smaller dose than adults. It contains some herbal extracts (like chamomile) which one can only hope will help with sleep and the fruit juice means that it tastes pleasant. I haven’t even referred to it as medicine to my toddler, I just told her that it’s special fruit juice and since she only gets water or milk then she thinks it’s a treat!
It’s too early after one day to tell if it’s having any impact. I gave it to her at lunchtime and she did settle for her day nap much easier today; I can only hope that the effects carry forward and that she sleeps better tonight because of it as well (and that I do too!).
Note: The Floradix is worth shopping around for. I found it listed online for an incredibly variable price of $17-35; the cheapest place I found to buy it was Countdown supermarket.