Magnesium is responsible for over 300 chemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function. It keeps your heart beating steadily. And, it helps to build a healthy immune system. Magnesium is a crucial element that your body needs to function at even the most basic levels – making it crucially important to get enough of this essential mineral on a daily basis. Read on to learn more about magnesium.
Why we need magnesium
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. Two-thirds of it is found in your bones and the rest in your tissues. This amazing mineral is absorbed into the body through the intestines and is then transported through the blood to your cells and organs where it’s stored. Because the body can’t produce it (unlike some nutrients like vitamin A), you need to eat enough magnesium-rich foods on a daily basis to remain healthy.Researchers know that magnesium plays a wide variety of roles in the body. Your cardiovascular system, digestive system, nervous system, muscles, kidneys, liver, hormone-secreting glands and brain all rely on the mineral to accomplish even the most basic tasks.And scientists believe it may play an important role in preventing or treating dozens of health conditions including asthma, autism, heart disease, eclampsia, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, PMS and lupus.
Signs and symptoms of a magnesium deficiency
Because the magnesium is involved is a wide array of bodily reactions and functions, symptoms of a magnesium deficiency can vary widely. Here are some of the most common:Â· Muscle weakness, tremors and spasms
Â· Heart arrhythmia or an increased heart rate
Â· Imbalanced blood sugar levels
Â· High blood pressure
Â· Weight gain
Â· Lack of appetiteYou can, however, get too much of this mineral. Magnesium toxicity usually results when it is taken as a supplement or in pill form. Toxicity symptoms include drowsiness, weakness and diarrhea. Stick to magnesium-rich foods, unless directed differently by your doctor.
Who is at risk for a magnesium deficiency?
Certain groups of people will have a harder time reaching their daily dose of the nutrient. At-risk groups include:People with digestive diseases. People who suffer from Crohn’s or irritable bowel syndrome have lower absorption rates than others.People who experience vomiting or diarrhea. Whether you have the flu or experience an allergic reaction, excessive vomiting or diarrhea will deplete the magnesium stores in your body and will compromise the digestive system’s ability to absorb it.People taking certain medications. Certain diuretics, antibiotics and medications (like those used to treat cancer) inhibit the digestive system’s ability to absorb the mineral.Diabetics. Some diabetics are prone to urinate more often than others. Because magnesium is flushed from our body through the kidneys, the more you urinate, the more magnesium your body will lose.People with low blood levels of potassium or calcium. These nutrients and minerals work together to create balance in the body. If you’re running low on either potassium or calcium, you run the risk of becoming magnesium deficient as well.Seniors. The body’s digestive tract changes with age. The older you are, the more prone you are to problems like diarrhea. As a result, seniors run a higher risk of becoming deficient than their younger counterparts do.
Recommended daily intake for magnesium
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is as follows:Infants (0-6 months): 30 mg per day
Infants (7-11 months): 75 mg per day
Children (ages 1-3): 80 mg per day
Children (ages 4-8): 130 mg per day
Children (ages 9-13): 240 mg per day
Teenagers (ages 14-18): 360-410 mg per day
Men (ages 19-30): 400 mg per day
Men (ages 31 and older): 420 mg per day
Women (ages 19-30): 310 mg per day
Women (ages 19 and older): 320 mg per day
Pregnant women (ages 19 and older): 350-360 mg per day
Lactating women (ages 19 and older): 310-320 mg per day
Food sources of magnesium
Some of the best food sources for magnesium include:Halibut, cooked, 3 oz = 90 mg
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 oz = 80 mg
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 oz = 75 mg
Soybeans, cooked, 1/2 cup = 75 mg
Spinach, cooked, 1/2 cup = 75 mg
Oatmeal, instant prepared with water, 1 cup = 55 mg
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tbsp = 50 mg
Avocado, California, 1/2 cup = 35 mg
Raisins, seedless, 1/4 cup = 25 mg
Tips for getting enough magnesium
Getting more magnesium from your diet is easy. Here are a few quick and easy tips:1. Eat green. Green vegetables are a good source of magnesium because the nutrient that makes them green (chlorophyll) is packed with the mineral.2. Avoid refined foods. Refining and processing flour strips the grain of almost all its magnesium content. Reach for whole grain products instead.3. Skip bottled water. Tap water is a great source of magnesium. That’s especially true if you have hard water.4. Get your daily five. Meeting your daily fruit and veggie quota of 5 to 10 servings will guarantee you reach your magnesium RDA.5. Limit alcohol and coffee. Both increase your body’s urge to urinate. The more you urinate, the more magnesium will be excreted from your body.6. Eat your fruits and veggies raw. Steaming, blanching or boiling certain foods can cut their magnesium content by as much as 65 percent. Reach for freshly chopped foods instead.