Nutrient Spotlight: Magnesium

This mega-important micronutrient has a bundle of benefits, like supporting your immune system, nervous system, metabolism, muscles and bones. Magnesium deficiency is known to impair our immune cells’ function and can cause inflammation in the body.1,2

To say that magnesium plays many roles would be an understatement(!), as this amazing mineral helps us with so many important functions, including:1,2,3,4,5,6,7 

  • Enzyme efficiency – we need magnesium in over 300 enzymes throughout our body!
  • Breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins and fats to energy
  • Building of proteins for enzymes, immunity, DNA and so much more
  • Antioxidant production, like glutathione, which helps to fight and repair naturally occurring damage
  • Hydration - magnesium is an electrolyte that plays an important role in getting water, sodium and potassium into muscles and tissues.
  • Conduction of nerve impulses including those that regulate muscle contractions and relaxation. Magnesium is needed for proper heart rhythm as well.
  • Regulation of calcium levels within the blood (calcium is important for muscle contractions as well as bone health).
  • Supporting bone health; magnesium plays an important role in building bone and maintaining bone mineral density
  • Regulating body temperature and sleep
  • Improving insulin sensitivity, which means that the tissues in the body respond better to insulin, a hormone that acts to remove sugar from the blood. This may help reduce risk for developing prediabetes or insulin resistance.
  • Boosting mood
  • Reducing migraine headaches
  • Magnesium also helps activate vitamin D, which plays a vital role in immune and respiratory health.

Issues that can develop when we’re not eating getting enough magnesium1:

  • Sleep disruption
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Cardiac arrhythmia

Who’s most at risk for magnesium deficiency?

  • Older adults have a few risk factors due to age-related processes. They tend to consume less magnesium due to age or illness-related appetite loss. Additionally, their body’s ability to absorb magnesium in the gut decreases while kidney excretion of magnesium into urine increases, boosting losses.1
  • Certain medications like diuretics or “water pills” and cancer treatments can cause the body to eliminate magnesium excessively in the urine or stool. Chronic excess alcohol intake can cause this as well.1,3,4
  • Persons with poor gut health and gastrointestinal diseases that cause chronic diarrhea, like celiac or Crohn’s disease, or persons who’ve had gut surgery removing portions of the small intestine where magnesium absorption occurs.1,4
  • Athletes who aren’t fueling properly and are losing magnesium through sweat.
  • Persons with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance because higher levels of sugars that accumulate in the kidney cause the body to eliminate too much magnesium through urine.1

Where can you get magnesium and how much do we need?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of magnesium for adults is 420 milligrams (mg) per day.1,4 

  • Whole grains like barley, bulgur and oats, amaranth, quinoa, wheat germ
  • Black strap molasses and dark chocolate
  • Nuts and seeds like almonds, pumpkin, cashews, walnuts
  • Fruits and vegetables like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and other dark green leafy veggies, parsnips, summer squash, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas
  • Legumes and beans such as black, navy, peanuts, peanut butter

 

References:

  1. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18705536/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5676816/
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-you-should-know-about-magnesium2
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18516713/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507265/
  7. https://jaoa.org/article.aspx?rticleid=2673882

 

About Stacy Kennedy

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

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