Food and Magnesium
I’ve always loved every aspect of food: preparing it, sharing it and eating it. Through my own health struggles and nutrition education, I started to appreciate food on a whole new level. It is a powerful contributor to overall health. And although I would like to say that we can meet all our needs with our daily diet, I would be incorrect. It can be challenging to meet nutrient needs with diet alone. This is especially true for the mineral magnesium. Why is magnesium important? It’s the 4th most abundant mineral in the body and it is involved in more than 600 bodily functions. (1, 2) 75% of the population cannot get enough magnesium from diet alone, making them magnesium deficient. Chronically depleted soil, increased intake of processed foods, demineralized water and stressful daily living all contribute to this problem. (3-5)
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
How do you know if you are deficient in magnesium? The symptom list is endless. (6) Please note, many of these symptoms could be indicators of other nutrient deficiencies or health issues.
- Poor sleep
- Muscle cramps
- Weight gain
- Insulin resistance
- Chronic fatigue
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Kidney stones
- Cognitive impairment
Almost all of us can relate to at least one of the health issues listed above. While many of us put up with these ailments, there may be a resolution. Relief may be achieved through a simple diet change or supplement.
Assessing Magnesium Levels
It’s also important to note that the level of magnesium in your body may impact other minerals and vice versa. Specifically, an excess of magnesium may interfere with calcium, phosphorus, sodium or lead levels. An excess of calcium, phosphorus, sodium, lead or manganese may impact magnesium levels. This demonstrates that mineral interactions in the body are complex. As a result, it is always valuable to assess individual nutrient levels prior to supplementing. The most accurate determination of magnesium is red blood cell (RBC) magnesium. Traditional magnesium blood tests are not accurate representations of true magnesium levels. These numbers can be skewed. If the magnesium in the RBC is low and the magnesium in the blood is normal, it shows that your body is stealing magnesium from the RBC to maintain normal levels elsewhere. (2)
Food sources of magnesium
Until you determine your current level, food is your safest bet. Magnesium sources include fortified cereals, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, dark leafy vegetables as well as animal proteins such as fish, poultry and beef. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adult men and women is 400-420 mg/day and 310-320 mg/day, respectively. Pregnancy requires an increased amount of 350-360 mg/day. See below for specific magnesium rich foods.
- Almonds, peanuts, cashews
- Beans (black, kidney)
- Brown rice
- Cooked spinach, Swiss chard
- Dark chocolate (at least 70%)
- Milk, yogurt
- Oatmeal (instant, whole oats)
- Peanut butter
- Pumpkin seeds
- Soybeans, soymilk
- White potato with skin
Magnesium Supplements (7,8)
–Magnesium citrate is one of the most commonly used forms of magnesium. It promotes bowel movements and prevents constipation. This form of magnesium is bound to citrate and is easily absorbed. It functions to pull water into the bowel leading to stool elimination.
-Magnesium glycinate is one of my favorite forms of magnesium. It is well absorbed but also safe for long term use due to its gentleness. It functions to boost memory and sleep, and reduces anxiety and chronic pain. Providers often use this during hormonal shifts to ease cramps, cravings and PMS. Unlike magnesium citrate, this magnesium is bound to an amino acid known as glycinate.
-Magnesium chloride is most often used as a topical application. It is beneficial for individuals who struggle to absorb nutrients via the gut. It functions to improve sleep, relieve pain and heartburn, and ease anxiety.
-Magnesium sulfate is most often found in the form of Epsom salts. The Epsom salt bath serves to reduce pain and promote relaxation.
-Magnesium malate is bound to malic acid and promotes energy. This form is recommended for individuals with chronic fatigue. It may also stimulate the bowel and reduce risk of constipation.
-Magnesium L-Threonate is a combination of magnesium and l-threonate. It is used to promote brain function, specifically memory loss and cognitive dysfunction.
-Magnesium oxide is the product of binding magnesium to oxygen. This supplement should be limited to short durations. This form will not help improve deficient magnesium levels.
Wondering how to apply this information? Follow these three steps…
- Do you have any of the symptoms of being magnesium deficient? Evaluate yourself.
- If yes, check your current diet and make sure you are consuming at least one magnesium rich food daily.
- If you are currently maintaining a balanced diet, eating magnesium rich foods, and continue to have symptoms, request a RBC magnesium level. At the same time, consider a comprehensive blood test of all your vitamins and minerals. This will give a complete picture of your vitamin and mineral status.
If you want a complete dietary analysis, contact Emily for a free consultation to review your best options for improving your health today. Sometimes, the resolution is as simple as addressing a vitamin or mineral deficiency.