It is important to know magnesium facts if you intend to take this essential dietary mineral.
Magnesium is a "macromineral," which means that the body needs it in relatively high amounts to keep itself healthy. The body does not naturally make magnesium, so it must be obtained through our diet.
Magnesium Facts You Should Know
Functions of Magnesium
- Magnesium serves a variety of functions in the body, and is an essential element in more than 320 biochemical processes in the human body.
- One of the most important functions that magnesium serves is to relax the muscles and the nervous system.
- All of the cells in the body need magnesium and use it to process and regenerate energy. Magnesium is essential in helping turn the food we eat into energy.
- Magnesium is found in our muscles and bones, and plays an important role in bone health, and in giving bone its structure.
- Studies show a link between a healthy intake level of magnesium and a child's ability to concentrate, as well as a fast growing bones and muscles. All parents should ensure their children eat lots of magnesium-rich foods.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
If you do not get sufficient amounts of magnesium, your body shall begin to show signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency. This deficiency may be caused by a lack of magnesium in the diet or by high intake of alcohol. These symptoms vary, but often include:
- Muscle spasms, tremor and weakness
- Increased heart rates and heart contractions
- Softened bones
- Disturbance of blood sugar levels
- Nausea, headaches and loss of appetite
The metabolic changes that may result from a magnesium deficiency in the body can contribute to other health problems such as heart stroke and heart failure.
Dietary Sources of Magnesium
Many of the foods you eat contain magnesium, and as long as you eat a healthy, balanced diet, you should be able to obtain the recommended daily intake from your regular fare. Some of the foods that will provide you high levels of magnesium include:
- Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, legumes, nuts, and whole grains
- Fish such as salmon and halibut are especially rich in magnesium
- Seeds such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
- Other foods that are great sources of magnesium include meat, bread, nuts and dairy foods.
- Cocoa also contains a fairly high level of magnesium, so you do have a very sound excuse for eating that good bar of chocolate!
Some foods will lose some of their magnesium content when they are cooked, particularly if its magnesium content is water based. For example, spinach loses about one third of its magnesium content when it is cooked. However, even after cooking, most foods will still provide the body with magnesium. Other foods rich in magnesium, such as nuts, are not much affected by cooking.
The average daily intake of magnesium has been decreasing over the past century, and recent studies show that many people today are not getting sufficient magnesium from their diet. If you are concerned that your diet may not provide sufficient amounts of magnesium, it may be advisable to look into taking magnesium supplements.
There are several different brands of magnesium supplements on the market. However, it is important that you consult with your doctor or other healthcare practitioner to ensure that you do not take too much.
Here are the recommended daily intake levels for magnesium supplements in the United States
- 300 milligrams for women under the age of 30
- 310 milligrams for women over the age of 30
- 400 milligrams for men aged between 19 and 30
- 420 milligrams for men above the age of 30
The recommended daily intake levels in the United Kingdom is:
- 270 milligrams per day for women
- 300 milligrams a day for men.
An overdose of magnesium can cause complications such as diarrhea. You must not take more than 400 milligrams of magnesium supplement per day. Amounts below this level generally pose little risk.
Magnesium supplements are often recommended for athletes to keep their magnesium levels high, because this mineral plays a very crucial role in the body's energy production system, helping deliver oxygen to the muscle system, as well as helping to process oxygen during aerobic exercise. Older people also benefit from using supplements to boost their magnesium intake.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient that is crucial to the proper functioning of the human body. Learning important magnesium facts is the first step to understanding the need to maintain a sufficient intake level.