Magnesium is used by every organ in your body, and especially in your heart, kidneys and muscles1. So it’s no surprise that there’s an abundant amount of this mineral in the body. It’s involved in over 300 biochemical functions, so a magnesium deficiency can have a lot of consequences for your health.
Making sure you get enough of this important mineral through diet and supplementation can make a big difference in your pain and overall health.
How Much Magnesium Do I Need?
Most of us don’t get enough magnesium, so deficiencies are common. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium for adult women is between 310-360mg, whereas for adult men it is 400-420mg from both supplementation and food2.
But with any general recommendation, there are always exceptions to the rule. If you’re deficient or experiencing a health condition that disrupts your body’s ability to absorb magnesium, you might need more. This is best determined with the help of your healthcare practitioner.
In the event that you do take too much magnesium, you might experience loose stool, which over time can contribute to dehydration if you don’t reduce your dose.
Risk Factors for Deficiency
A magnesium deficiency can occur for a number of reasons, including an insufficient dietary intake, or reduced absorption because of issues in your gut.
1. Low dietary intake
Magnesium is abundantly found in plant foods. But with the marked increased use of convenience and processed foods in the standard American diet (SAD), most of us aren’t eating enough fruits, vegetables , nuts, seeds and legumes daily. To make matters worse, heating and cooking your foods can affect the magnesium content of the meals that you eat.
2. Soil Depletion
Even eating enough plant-based foods doesn’t mean you’ll get enough magnesium. Large scale farms have traded traditional farming practices for growing as much as they can as fast as they can. Unfortunately, these farming practices often contribute to mineral depletion in the soil. Genetic modification, mono-cropping and continuous growing cycles rob the soil of minerals faster than they can be replenished. With less minerals in the soil, our produce is less nutrient dense.
3. Digestive issues
Digestives issues can have a big impact on how much magnesium your body readily absorbs. Low stomach acid, leaky gut or inflammatory bowel disease can all prevent assimilation and contribute to deficiency in the longterm. Allergies and inflammation in the digestive tract can also contribute to low levels.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium deficiency is a serious issue, but it can be hard to pinpoint. A simple blood test can’t accurately determine if you’re low in magnesium, since only 1% of your body’s magnesium is stored in the blood3. Your symptoms may be a better way to determine if magnesium deficiency is an issue for you.
Some the signs you might experience include the following:
1. Leg cramps
Uncomfortable cramping in the legs, or restless legs syndrome are both issues commonly linked to a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium plays a role in muscular relaxation and contraction, which may be why symptoms tend to ease with supplementation.
2. Low energy
Magnesium does a lot in the body, including help breakdown glucose into energy. So if you’re feeling low in energy, or weak or fatigued, it could be a sign that you’re deficient in magnesium.
3. High blood pressure
If you’re low in magnesium, you may be more likely to experience high blood pressure. One of the benefits of magnesium is that it can help lower blood pressure, relax the blood vessels and support the action of the heart4.
4. Muscle pain
Magnesium has an important role in neuromuscular signals and can contribute to muscular pain, spasms, aches and weakness when it is in short supply. To ensure your muscles are relaxing and contracting normally for natural pain relief, add magnesium to your diet or use supplements.
Other symptoms you may experience that can be related to a magnesium deficiency include anxiety, moodiness, migraines, PMS, and dental cavities.
Food Sources of Magnesium
To reap the health benefits of magnesium, you need to make sure you’re getting enough. That means eating a healthy diet rich in plant-based foods and potentially supplementing. Here are some of the top food sources of magnesium to include in your diet5.
- Spinach – 1 cup = 39% of your daily value
- Chard- 1 cup = 38% of your daily value
- Beet greens – 1 cup = 24% of your daily value
- Pumpkin seeds – 1/4 cup = 48% of your daily value
- Black Beans – 1 cup = 30% of your daily value
- Sunflower seeds – 1/4 cup = 28% of your daily value
- Dark chocolate – 1 square (29g) = 24% of your daily value
- Soybeans – 1 cup = 37% of your daily value
- Sesame seeds – 1/4 cup =32% of your daily value
- Quinoa – 3/4 cup = 30% of your daily value
The Health Benefits of Magnesium
Supplying your body with adequate amount of magnesium helps maintain regular healthy functions within the body including:
- Muscle relaxation and contraction
- Healthy calcium uptake and use
- Proper bone and teeth formation
- Sugar metabolism and reduced risk of diabetes
- Maintenance of heart health
- Healthy blood pressure levels
- Nutrient metabolism (protein carbohydrates and fats)
- Energy production
Chew on this
If you choose to supplement with magnesium, choosing the right form can make a difference in your body’s ability to absorb it. Some forms such as magnesium oxide can have a bit of a laxative effect, while forms like magnesium glycinate or magnesium chelate are highly absorbable. You can find many different varieties of magnesium at your local health food store including capsules, powders and liquid to fit your needs and budget.
What magnesium-rich foods do you include in your diet? Tell us in the comments below.