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Why It Matters Whether You’re Getting Enough Magnesium

Magnesium is naturally available in the earth and in our bodies; most of it is in our bones. Still, many people are deficient in magnesium and may not know it. What are the dangers of not getting enough and what does it do, exactly?

“Magnesium is a very important mineral for women’s health,” says Sharon Palmer, a registered dietitian from California and author of Plant-Powered for Life. Palmer explains that the mineral is an important co-factor in more than 300 enzyme systems in the body, regulating reactions in our muscles and nerves, including our hearts, blood glucose and blood pressure.

The recommended daily allowance of magnesium for women ages 19 to 30 is 310 milligrams, while the 30-plus crowd needs 320 milligrams per day. And if you’re pregnant, you should get anywhere from 350 to 360 milligrams each day. If you have your doctor check magnesium as part of an RBC (red blood cell) test, it should be around 6.5 — between 4.2 and 6.8. If it falls below 6.0, you do not have enough of the mineral in your system and should talk to your doctor about how to boost your magnesium levels.

what magnesium does to your body
Image: Getty Images/Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows

More to love about magnesium

Not only can magnesium aid in lowering blood pressure and better regulate blood sugar, it has also been found to help with PMS, migraines and depression. It has also been linked to reducing heart disease and osteoporosis.

Some sources say it can regulate our moods too. It can convert tryptophan into serotonin, which boosts your mood. And it helps to regulate the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.

It can also have a substantial effect on our hormone levels. Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, tells SheKnows that fluctuating sex hormones can impact our levels of magnesium, so women may be more prone to magnesium deficiencies. They can be deficient during menopause, and hormone replacement therapy has been known to help.

Additionally, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports that hyperthyroidism, kidney disease and gastrointestinal diseases are a few conditions that can cause deficiencies. Consuming too much alcohol, coffee or sodas, as well as having heavy menstrual periods and excess sweating, are a few factors that can inhibit magnesium levels.

Sources of magnesium

Check whether your multivitamin contains magnesium, or ask if your doctor wants you to take a supplement. If you’re a healthy eater, you might be getting enough from your diet alone. If not, try adding a few more leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains into your diet, Palmer recommended. Either way, making sure you get enough magnesium could make a big difference in your health.

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