Magnesium is a very important mineral that does not get enough attention. It is necessary in over 300 chemical reactions in the body including protein synthesis, nerve and muscle functioning, energy production and hormone balancing. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is about 320/400 milligrams for a female/male ages 31-50 respectively. It is worthy to note that the RDA is defined as “daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement” and as such is a maintenance dose versus an optimal dose, especially if you are already deficient. Studies show that the average American may be getting less than half of the magnesium they need daily due to several factors I discuss below.
Why are we deficient in Magnesium?
- North American diet is deficient in whole foods, which are rich in magnesium, and heavily reliant on consumption of processed foods, that have little or no nutritional value.
- Use of synthetic fertilizers has depleted the minerals in our soil, resulting in significantly lower magnesium levels (and other minerals/ vitamins) as compared to nutrition available to previous generations.
- It is easily flushed out of body by things that have diuretic effect such as caffeine (shaky hands after drinking it are a sign that magnesium has been flushed out of the body), alcohol, prescription drugs with diuretic effects, diarrhea and diseases of kidneys or hyperthyroid.
- Poor digestion is another key contributing factor linked to deficiencies, even if consuming a healthy diet, as the body can only absorb nutrients that are well broken down.
- High blood sugar has been linked with causing a magnesium deficiency and a magnesium deficiency can in turn raise blood sugar levels thus becoming a vicious cycle that needs to be broken by consuming adequate magnesium through diet and/or high quality supplements.
Why should you care about getting enough magnesium in your diet?
- A mild deficiency can lead to significant bone loss
- Acts as a co-factor for enzymes in energy production (lack of results in fatigue) and control of blood sugar (“hangry”, energy crashes, fatigue, sugar cravings, headaches, weight gain etc.)
- Linked to increased rates of depression and anxiety
- Increase in inflammation
- Supports a healthy heart
Signs and Symptoms of Deficiency
- Fatigue or weakness
- Muscle fatigue, twitches, spasms, tremors, cramps (i.e. menstrual, foot cramps)
- Neck, shoulder and back pain
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heart beat
- Sleep issues such as trouble falling or staying asleep
- Cravings for chocolate (cocao is high in magnesium)
- Headaches/ migraines
- Depression, anxiety, and edginess (magnesium allows the body to relax)
Sources of Magnesium
The best sources of magnesium can be found in whole foods such as vegetables (especially green leafy ones), nuts, seeds, legumes and to a lesser extent whole grains. In order to meet your daily allowance you may consume two ounces of cashews and two cups of boiled spinach or two ounces of pumpkin seeds and two ounces of cashews and two ounces of almonds.
Another good way to get your magnesium daily is to take a high quality supplement that is easy for the body to absorb. Some of the forms are discussed below:
Magnesium Glycinate – highly absorbable form by the body and less likely to have a laxative effect
Magnesium Citrate – absorbable but less so then Glycinate form and will have more of a laxative effect if taken in larger quantity
Magnesium Oxide – most common form found in drug store, contains a lot of magnesium by weight but the body absorbs a very small percentage, in addition to many fillers, and should be avoided
The most common side effect of taking too much magnesium in supplement form is loose bowels and getting too much from food alone is virtually impossible.
If you are experiencing digestive issues you may not be absorbing the nutrients from the healthy foods you eat or supplements you take - book a FREE Call with me to discuss how I can help get your gut back on track here.