Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for numerous physiological processes in the human body. It is the fourth most abundant mineral found in the body and plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and wellbeing. Magnesium is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions, making it a vital nutrient for various physiological functions, including bone health, muscle function, energy production and heart health.
How much magnesium do you need?
Adult males (31 years and older) need 420-420mg/day and adult females (31 years and older) need 320-360mg/day.
It’s important to note that individual magnesium needs may vary depending on factors such as activity level, overall health status and other specific circumstances. For instance, athletes, individuals with certain medical conditions and those taking certain medications may have higher magnesium requirements. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can help determine the appropriate magnesium intake for your specific needs.
Can you have too much magnesium?
Consuming excess magnesium from food sources is typically not a concern for those with healthy kidney function, as the kidneys will filter out excess magnesium from the body. However, excessive magnesium intake, such as through the use of supplements or certain medications such as laxatives or antacids, can potentially lead to adverse effects including cramps and nausea. At very high doses, magnesium supplements can cause severe illness.
Benefits of magnesium
So why is getting adequate magnesium essential? Among the many reasons is that it wards off those diseases more likely to be associated with ageing: diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.
Older Australians, alcoholics and those who already suffer from diabetes are most likely to be deficient in the mineral. Consuming enough magnesium can control inflammation in your body, protecting you against heart disease and arthritis.
It’s also essential for bone formation and plays a key role in maintaining bone density and strength. It helps regulate the metabolism of calcium, vitamin D, and other minerals involved in bone health, making it important for maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
Additionally, magnesium is involved in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the primary source of energy for cellular processes in the body. It is required for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and plays a role in energy production at the cellular level.
Adequate magnesium levels are also crucial for maintaining a healthy heart. It helps regulate heart rhythm, supports blood vessel health and helps maintain normal blood pressure levels, making it important for overall cardiovascular health.
Experts also think magnesium helps to block or lower pain chemicals in your brain and keeps your blood vessels from tightening, meaning it could prevent migraines.
Good sources of magnesium
There are several food sources that are rich in magnesium and can help you meet your daily magnesium requirements. Some of the best food sources of magnesium include:
- Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and other dark leafy greens. They are also rich in other essential nutrients, making them a great addition to your diet.
- Nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.
- Beans, lentils, and chickpeas. These are also high in fibre and protein, making them a healthy addition to your diet.
- Wholegrains such as brown rice, quinoa and wholewheat bread and pasta. These also provide nutrients such as fibre, B vitamins and minerals.
- Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and halibut are not only rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but also contain magnesium.
- Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese. Opt for low-fat or fat-free options for a healthier choice.
- Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is a delicious choice. Choose dark chocolate with minimal added sugars for the most benefits.
- Avocado. This breakfast favourite can be enjoyed on its own, in salads or as a topping on toast.
Many people with a magnesium deficiency may not have symptoms. Others who are more sensitive can develop tremors, disturbed sleep, muscle cramps and fatigue. If you suffer from these conditions, despite eating a balanced diet that includes foods from the above list, you may wish to ask your doctor if they recommend a blood test to measure your magnesium levels.
If your levels are low, your doctor may suggest taking supplements or applying creams, which are available over the counter.
Have you ever had your magnesium levels tested? Do you need to supplement your diet with vitamins? Let us know in the comments section below.
Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.