Magnesium is a mineral that many Americans don’t get enough of in their diets. The interesting thing is, our daily needs for this important nutrient can easily be met by consuming just a few magnesium-rich foods each day. There typically isn’t a need for supplementation, but to be sure you’re getting enough, let’s take a look at what it does, how best to consume it, and what happens if we get too much or too little in our diet.
Magnesium’s Role in the Body:
Helps produce energy, make body proteins, and regulate blood glucose levels
Supports muscle and nerve function, signaling muscles to contract and relax
Promotes healthy heart rhythm and normal blood pressure
Is a component of bones
Could help maintain immune response
How Much Magnesium Do We Need?
31 + yrs
31 + yrs
*Note that recommended amounts increase slightly for women during pregnancy.
A deficiency of magnesium is rare due to the body’s ability to regulate and maintain healthy levels by reducing loss through urine. Generally, the only ones who need to be concerned about a deficiency are those with malabsorptive diseases, such as chronic digestive problems, celiac disease, kidney disease, or alcoholism.
What are the Best Sources of Magnesium?
Beans and peas
Nuts (1 oz of almonds contains 20% of the daily magnesium an adult needs) and nut butters
Dark green vegetables (chlorophyll contains magnesium)
Some waters (tap, mineral or bottled) can provide magnesium
Of Special Note:
Low magnesium levels usually don’t cause symptom. However, chronically low levels can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
New research is emerging to show that magnesium therapy may help prevent or relieve headaches, particularly migraines. Magnesium deficiency can affect neurotransmitters and restrict blood vessel constriction, factors which doctors link to migraines.
Magnesium may also play a role in premenstrual syndrome. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest that taking magnesium supplements could help to reduce bloating, mood symptoms, and breast tenderness in PMS, though more research is still needed on this topic.