Magnesium is an often-overlooked mineral in our diets, as we focus the most on iron and calcium content of our foods usually. But just because its ignored, does not mean it doesn’t play several important functions in our body. (In fact, it supports over 300 processes in the body). Read on to find out why its possible you may have low magnesium, why it matters and how to fix it.
The recommended daily amount of magnesium for adults is 300-400 mg but it is highly likely most adults get far less than this. This is due to magnesium levels being low in food. Magnesium levels are depleted in farming soils worldwide, probably due to modern farming practices, resulting in lower levels in our food. Add to this, the low bioavailability of plant-based magnesium and our modern, processed food laden diets and it means, we are probably getting less magnesium through our food than our ancestors did, and that’s not a good thing.
Benefits of good Magnesium levels-
Magnesium plays so many roles in your body, that’s its present in every cell. It is involved with our glucose regulating mechanisms, brain, muscles, nervous system and gene function and repair.
Magnesium has been shown to:
- Control the effects of ageing by decreasing oxidative/free radical damage in our bodies (source)
- Reduce chronic / silent inflammation (source)
- Maintain bone strength and increase calcium absorption in the body (source) which lowers the risk of bone osteoporosis
- Maintain exercise stamina and fight muscle fatigue (source)
- Regulate mood and fight depression (source)
- Reduce probability of getting type 2 diabetes (source) and improve insulin resistance (source)
- Reduce probability of coronary artery calcification and thus improve heart health (source)
- Maintain healthy blood pressure (source)
With so many important functions in the body, the low focus on getting enough magnesium is shocking. We are writing this article to help you become more magnesium-aware and to guide you on how to maintain optimum levels in the body.
Signs of low magnesium-
As per Healthline, the most common signs of magnesium deficiency are:
- Muscle twitches and cramps (including eye twitches)
- Mental disorders and anxiety
- Osteoporosis and weak bones
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heart beat
Apart from Healthline’s, list, you could also experience nausea and lack of appetite, insomnia, PMS, frequent tooth cavities, and fingertip numbness.
Please note that these symptoms individually can be caused by other health issues or lifestyle factors as well. Plus, symptoms don’t show for slight deficiencies usually, only when one is severely deficient in magnesium. Given most people’s diets are somewhat magnesium deficient, it doesn’t hurt to try and add some magnesium rich foods to your diet. You can’t overdose on magnesium though food usually so there is no downside.
The recommended daily intake of magnesium (as per the NIH) for various people are:
- Infants–6 months: 30 milligrams
- 7–12 months: 75 milligrams
- 1–3 years: 80 milligrams
- 4–8 years: 130 milligrams
- 9–13 years: 240 milligrams
- 14–18 years: 410 milligrams for men; 360 milligrams for women
- 19–30 years: 400 milligrams for men; 310 milligrams for women
- Adults 31+ years: 420 milligrams for men; 320 milligrams for women
- Pregnant women: 30-40 milligrams more than non-pregnant women of same age
How to get more Magnesium-
There are two ways to get more of any mineral – eat the right foods or take supplements. There are many magnesium supplements available. Be warned, the commonly found magnesium salts in cheaper multivitamin pills tend to make one have looser bowels. The worst offender in this matter is magnesium oxide, though even magnesium citrate can cause this in some people. The best (non-diarrhoea) causing supplements are those which are amino acid chelated, the common ones being magnesium glycinate or magnesium aspartate. In any case, unless a doctor has diagnosed a magnesium deficiency for you, we do not recommend supplements as the first way to build your magnesium stores. For more information on which type of supplement is best for you, check here. While magnesium supplements are usually safe, check with you doctor if you can take magnesium supplements if you are a kidney or heart patient, or are pregnant or on psychiatric medication.
For most people though, eating magnesium rich food instead should be the first port of call. As stated earlier – it’s almost impossible to get too much magnesium through food, so you needn’t worry about an overdose if getting your magnesium via magnesium rich foods. If you suspect you might be low on magnesium, try incorporating dark green vegetables, organic dark chocolate, bananas, nuts, legumes and beans, seeds etc, in your diet. You can try seed butters on your toast instead of regular butter for a tasty flavour.
Find a simple and easy to make, magnesium rich pumpkin seed butter here. This butter is super rich in zinc, iron, magnesium and loads of other minerals, and is easily spreadable on toast/ parantha.
About the author-
This is a guest blog post by Riddhi Kaul. She is the editor of AuroraSeek.com – a shiny new website dedicated to natural living and healthy lifestyle in India. She is an alumnus of IIM Lucknow and is an experienced management consultant. Reading, researching, travelling and parenting takes up most of her time. She lives in Mumbai with her spouse, three-year-old son and her furry little friends.