Magnesium is a mineral needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in our body. It is estimated that 80% of Americans are deficient. – Michael Murray
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is an important mineral in which over one-half of the US population is deficient, simply due to the lack of whole foods in our diet and the onset of conventional farming. Since food processing refines out a very large portion of magnesium (along with other essential nutrients), most Americans are not getting the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). What happens when a deficiency of magnesium occurs? Well, just to name a few complications: susceptibility to heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney stones, cancer, insomnia, PMS, and menstrual cramps. As you can understand, it is very important to consume foods rich with magnesium!
Functions and Benefits
Magnesium is a major mineral involved in nearly every body process. Its primary function is to activate enzymes. Mg is required for calcium to be absorbed and facilitates nutrients getting in and wastes getting out. It also helps maintain blood sugar balance. Even further, it is involved in maintaining the electrical charge of cells, specifically in muscles and nerves. Overall, is it involved in energy production, protein formation and cellular replication.
What Factors Deplete Magnesium?
- Carbonated beverages, Coffee & Tea
- Refined Sugar and Sweets
- Chronic Stress
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Vitamin Supplements with an improper ratio of calcium to magnesium
Food Sources of Magnesium
The highest source of Mg is Kelp (seaweed). Now, if seaweed is not your idea of a delicious snack you can also find magnesium in pumpkins seeds, wheat bran, almonds, cashews, black strap molasses, spinach, brown rice, brewer’s yeast, buckwheat, English walnuts, cacao, dates, avocado and Brazil nuts! Always remember to soak your nuts and seeds to get rid of the phytic acid, which inhibits mineral absorption. Read Sprout your way to more vitamins & minerals! for more details about soaking and sprouting.
Foods containing the proper 1:1 ratio of calcium and magnesium should also be considered for optimal absorption: fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, red bell peppers, artichokes, squash, sweet potatoes, apples, cantaloupe, cranberries, dates, peaches, nectarines, strawberries and mangoes; legumes and nuts such as chickpeas, pinto beans, almonds, chestnuts and pistachios; herbs and spices such as basil, nutmeg and turmeric; fish and shellfish such as wild Atlantic crab, wild sardines and shrimp; and organic pastured meats such as turkey and lamb. My favorite go-to snack is almond butter with banana, which provides that perfect balance of calcium to magnesium, plus the addition of potassium from the banana.
Symptoms are similar to potassium deficiency: mental confusion, irritability, weakness, heart disturbances, problems in nerve conduction and contraction, muscle cramps, headaches, loss of appetite, insomnia and a predisposition to stress. Magnesium deficiency is common in elderly and women during premenstrual period. It is often secondary to factors that reduce absorption or increase secretion: high calcium intake, alcohol consumption, surgery and oral contraceptive use.
Signs of Magnesium Deficiency
- Low energy
- Inability to Sleep
- PMS and Hormonal Imbalances
- Abnormal Heart Rhythm
- Muscle Tension, Spasms, Cramps
- Eye tics or Twitches
- Weak Bones
The ideal intake for magnesium should be based on body weight (6 mg per kilogram of body weight). The RDA for adult males is 350 mg and 300 mg for females. For pregnant and lactating women, the recommended allowance is 450 mg per day. Chelated forms are best: glycinate, taurate, succinate, citrate or malate. Calcium and phosphorous are co-factors so obtaining Magnesium from whole foods is far superior as the nutrients are already in balance. If choosing to supplement, look for a multivitamin that offers magnesium and calcium at a 1:1 ratio as this allows for the proper mineral absorption.
I absolutley love the individual packets of Natural Vitality Natural Calm. I keep these on hand for a particularly stressful day or just before bed, when I can’t seem to sleep. You will know you’ve had enough magnesium if it moves your bowels, so no need to take more if this occurs. The Magnesium Miracle is an excellent book that will help to shed even more light on this very much needed mineral.
In divine health,
Murray, M. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. NY: Atria Books
Mangan, P.D. (2015). Magnesium Deficiency and Sudden Death. http://roguehealthandfitness.com/magnesium-deficiency-sudden-death/ Dowse, G.
(2015). The Leading Food Sources of Magnesium. Retrieved from http://www.naturalhealingtherapy.com.au/the-leading-food- sources-of-magnesium/
“Need more Magnesium? 10 signs to Look For.” Retrieved from http://www.ancient-minerals.com/magnesium-deficiency/need-more/