Magnesium is an important mineral that our bodies need to function properly, including the synthesis of foods, neuromuscular activity and muscular relaxation. Deficiency in magnesium can lead to muscle spasms, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and headaches.
Magnesium’s 5 Key Roles
- An important factor in preventing osteoporosis, magnesium aids in the assimilation of calcium for proper bone formation and maintenance. Together with calcium, zinc and vitamin D3, magnesium is vital for bone health. Learn how you can support strong, healthy bones with 13 vitamins, minerals and herbs.
- Magnesium has been shown to be vital for muscle relaxation, and is often recommended for anyone with chronic muscle tension or muscle spasms.
- Low magnesium intake has been associated with higher risk of atherosclerosis (plaque in the arteries) and hypertension. Risk of coronary heart disease has also shown to be higher when magnesium levels are low, making it important to maintain optimal levels in those with a history of heart disease.
- Premenstrual syndrome symptoms have been shown to be reduced from magnesium. Symptoms such as bloating, insomnia, leg swelling, weight gain and breast tenderness are reduced, especially in conjunction with vitamin B6.
- Magnesium plays a vital role in metabolizing carbohydrates and glucose. Supplementation has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity and metabolic control in type 2 diabetic patients.
Causes of Low Magnesium Levels
Low magnesium may result from poor diet, heavy or long term perspiration, dehydration from diarrhea or excess alcohol consumption, gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease, poor kidney function, and certain medications. The elderly are also susceptible to low magnesium levels. Anyone at risk from cardiovascular disease, diabetes or osteoporosis should discuss supplementation with their physician to ensure they are ingesting optimal levels of magnesium.
Note: Too much magnesium may cause diarrhea as the body tries to rid itself of the excess, so it is important to stay within the tolerable range.
Generally, recommended daily intake levels for ages 19-30 are 400 mg for men, 350 mg for women. For ages 31-50, recommended daily intake levels are 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women – but these recommendations change based on age, gender, pregnancy and lactation.
How to Get Magnesium Naturally
If you want to start consuming more magnesium, try adding some (or all!) of these foods to your diet:
- dark leafy greens
- nuts and seeds
- whole grain cereals such as bran flakes