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Health and Fitness News

Magnificent Magnesium

What you should know about this essential mineral.

You try to eat a healthy diet, but there are so many vitamins and minerals your body needs! It’s hard to keep track of, even harder to know if you’re getting enough of each. Confusing as it is, there are only seven minerals your body needs large amounts of in order to function. One of these is magnesium. This nutrient plays an important role in health, and yet many don’t get enough in their diet.

What purpose does magnesium have in the body? What happens when you don’t get enough and how can you know if you’re deficient? What are the best food sources and should you take a supplement? Keep reading to find out.

It’s Purpose

The presence of magnesium is needed for more than 300 body processes. Muscle and nerve function, energy production, protein synthesis, and blood glucose regulation all rely on magnesium. So do blood pressure control, immune system function, bone development, heart rhythm, and the synthesis of your DNA. Believe it not, there are a lot of other reasons your body needs magnesium.

One is its protective powers. Magnesium is known to help prevent or treat diseases and disorders such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, migraines, anxiety, and depression. Care about magnesium now?

A Deficiency

Unless you eat the right foods or take a supplement, you may be deficient in magnesium. However, this can be hard to recognize at times. Most healthy people don’t show signs of magnesium deficiency. Even when you’re getting enough magnesium, lifestyle choices could lead to a deficiency. Certain medications, drinking too much alcohol or living with diabetes or gastrointestinal disorders can all lead to a lack of magnesium.

When symptoms do arise, they often mimic other health conditions. Signs you’re low on magnesium include fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Serious deficiency can cause numbness, tingling, muscle cramps, seizures, heart rhythm abnormalities, or personality changes.

Best Sources

How much magnesium should you consume each day? Between the ages of 19 and 30, men need 400 mg and women 310 mg. After age 30, men need 420 mg and women need 320 mg.

You can find magnesium naturally in many foods. Breakfast cereals are often fortified with the mineral. Some medications such as antacids and laxatives contain magnesium. Once consumed, it gets stored in your body. The average adult body contains around 25 grams at any given time, with more than half found in your bones. The rest hangs out in your muscles, body fluids, and tissue.

The best food sources of magnesium are dark green vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish, and legumes. Pumpkin seeds contain the most magnesium with 156 mg in a one-ounce serving. An ounce of chia seeds contains 111 mg, an ounce of almonds contains 80 mg, and a half-cup of boiled spinach contains 78 mg.

Supplementing Your Intake

Vitamins and minerals are absorbed best through food. But if you suspect you’re low in magnesium, you may need a supplement. Fortunately, there’s little chance of overdosing on magnesium through food since your body eliminates excess amounts. Excessive magnesium supplements, however, can cause nausea, cramping, or diarrhea. Extremely high doses can lead to more serious health complications and even death.

Have a kidney disorder, heart block, or bowel obstruction? Don’t take a supplement. It could make things worse. Also, like many supplements, magnesium can interact with certain medications. And since some medications keep your body from absorbing magnesium, tell your doctor what supplements you’re taking for the best results.