Why is magnesium so important for our health? Enjoy magnesium rich foods and stay healthy.
At the last count magnesium (Mg) was involved in over 600 enzymatic processes in the body. A further 200 enzymes require Mg to become activated. That's a lot of chemical processes that are vital for optimum health. (1)
We should be able to obtain all the Mg we require through the plants we eat, however, in many areas this is just not the case. Soil is not as nutrient rich as it used to be and plant absorption is therefore poor.
What are the signs of Mg deficiency?
Ask yourself if you ever experience any of the following symptoms? (2)
- problems sleeping
- eye twitching
- stress or anxiety
- high blood pressure
Or do you enjoy any of the following on a regular basis?
- caffeinated drinks or sodas
- processed foods, cakes, biscuits, ready meals
If you answer yes to any of these then you may well be low in Mg, however blood serum tests showing Mg levels can be misleading. Only 1% of Mg is in blood and 3% in blood serum. The majority of Mg is in our bones (approx 60%) and cells (approx 39%). (3)
Why do we need a diet rich in Mg?
Mg is an electrolyte and as such is involved in maintaining the rhythm of the heart, and the proper function of cells and organs as well as Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) for energy. In a trial study, nurse's with high dietary Mg had lower incidences of sudden cardiac death than those with low intake. (4)
Another study has proven that having low urinary levels of Mg is linked to ischemic heart disease.(5)
A further study links high Mg to a longer life, showing a 40% reduction in mortality in both men and women who had high Mg levels. (6)
Mg has been shown to be therapeutic for many conditions, ranging from headaches, asthma, disturbed sleep, chronic pain, hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. (7, 10,11). It is known to alleviate symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), reduce blood pressure and inflammation and prevent migraines. Mg is also attributed to boosting performance, improving blood sugar stability and enhancing the quality of sleep. (7,8)
So which foods should we eat?
- nuts and seeds
- Brazil nuts
- sesame seeds
- beets and beet greens
- bell peppers
- bok choy
- Brussel sprouts
- collard greens
- breen beans
- navy/pinto/black beans
- Swiss chard
Herbs and grains
- brown rice
- cantaloupe melon
- strawberries (9)
How much do we need?
The Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) for men is 300mg and for women 270mg. The percentages of daily value below are based on 300mg a day:
- Spinach, cooked — 1 cup: 157 milligrams of Mg (52 percent Daily Value (DV))
- Swiss chard, cooked — 1 cup: 150 milligrams (50 percent DV)
- Dark Chocolate — 1 square: 95 milligrams (32 percent DV)
- Pumpkin seeds, dried — 1/8 cup: 92 milligrams (31 percent DV)
- Almonds — 1 ounce: 75 milligrams (25 percent DV)
- Black beans — 1/2 cup: 60 milligrams (20 percent DV)
- Avocado — 1 medium: 58 milligrams (19 percent DV)
- Figs, dried — 1/2 cup: 50 miligrams (16 percent DV)
- Yogurt or kefir — 1 cup: 46.5 milligrams (15 percent DV)
- Banana — 1 medium: 32 milligrams (10 percent DV) (12)
The RDA should be obtainable from a healthy whole food diet. However, if you are suffering from any of the conditions mentioned above you may want to increase the Mg rich foods in your diet and note any improvements. However, if you have a preponderance of processed foods, and not too many green vegetables in your diet you may want to speak to your nutritional therapist. However, please ensure you take medical advice before taking any supplements as Mg interacts with many medications including antibiotics, blood thinners amongst many others. A too high a dose may also cause diarrhoea. A nutritional therapist will be able to provide further advice.
(1) De Baaji JH, Hoenderop JG, Bindels RJ, 2015, Magnesium in man: implications for health and disease. Physiol Rev.95(1):1-46. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00012.2014.
(2) Uwe Gröber, Joachim Schmidt, Klaus Kister, 2015, Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy, Nutrients 7(9), 8199-8226; doi:10.3390/nu7095388
(3) Castiglioni, S., Cazzaniga, A., Albisetti, W., & Maier, J. A. M. (2013). Magnesium and Osteoporosis: Current State of Knowledge and Future Research Directions. Nutrients, 5(8), 3022–3033. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu5083022
(4) Chiuve, S. E., Korngold, E. C., Januzzi, J. L., Gantzer, M. L., & Albert, C. M. (2011). Plasma and dietary magnesium and risk of sudden cardiac death in women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 93(2), 253–260. http://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.110.002253
(5) Michel M Joosten, Ron T Gansevoort, Kenneth J Mukamal, Pim van der Harst, Johanna M Geleijnse, Edith JM Feskens, Gerjan Navis, Stephan JL Bakker, for The PREVEND Study Group; Urinary and plasma magnesium and risk of ischemic heart disease, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 97, Issue 6, 1 June 2013, Pages 1299–1306, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.054114
(6) DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH, Wilson W Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis Open Heart 2018;5:e000668. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668
(7) Gröber, U., Schmidt, J., & Kisters, K. (2015). Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients, 7(9), 8199–8226. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu7095388
(8) Clin Drug Investig. 2007;27(1):51-8. Pilot study of the efficacy and safety of a modified-release magnesium 250 mg tablet (Sincromag) for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome.
(10) Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Giovannucci EL, Colditz GA, Rosner B, Willett WC, Sacks FM, Stampfer MJ. A prospective study of nutritional factors and hypertension among US men. Circulation. 1992;86:1475-84.
(11) Liao F, Folsom A, Brancati F. Is low magnesium concentration a risk factor for coronary heart disease? The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. American Heart Journal [serial online]. September 1998;136(3):480-490. Available from: MEDLINE with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed August 27, 2009.
Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
About Allison Llewellyn
If you have a health problem, would like to lose weight, or would just like to eat more nutritiously then I would love to help support you.
I am happy to work with clients of all ages, although usually with women as they start to face the trials and tribulations that can occur with ageing. As a nutritional therapist I will assess diet and lifestyle to understand where changes can be made wh… Read more
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