Magnesium is an essential mineral that is involved in many important metabolic functions in the body. It is a vital catalyst in enzyme activity, especially the activity of those enzymes involved in the production of energy.
About half of your body's magnesium stores are found inside cells of body tissues and organs. The other half is combined with calcium and phosphorus in the bone. Only 1% of the magnesium in your body is found in the blood.
The challenge is most of us have a magnesium deficient diet which can result in:
• Fidgety legs
• Muscle cramps
• Not getting a good night sleep
• Low energy levels
Dietary surveys suggest that many of us do not consume enough magnesium for our daily requirements. When a magnesium deficiency does occur, it is usually due to:
A deficiency of magnesium interferes with the transmission of nerve and muscular impulses, causing irritability and nervousness among other symptoms.
Healthy adults, who eat a varied diet, do not generally need to take a magnesium supplement. However, due to the additional pressure put on the body in some situations, magnesium can be essential for athletes, people under regular stress and pregnant women.
Magnesium supplementation is usually indicated when a specific health problem or condition is indicative of low magnesium status.
Extra magnesium may be required by individuals with conditions that cause:
Evidence suggests that magnesium may play an important role in regulating blood pressure. Diets that provide plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are good sources of potassium and magnesium, are consistently associated with a lower blood pressure.
The DASH study (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) suggested that high blood pressure could be significantly lowered by a diet high in magnesium, potassium and calcium and low in sodium and fat.
Magnesium deficiency can cause metabolic changes that may contribute to heart attacks and strokes. There is also evidence that low body stores of magnesium increase the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, which may increase the risk of complications associated with a heart attack.
Population surveys have associated higher blood levels of magnesium with lower risk of coronary heart disease. In addition, dietary surveys have suggested that a higher magnesium intake is associated with a lower risk of stroke.
Magnesium deficiency may be a risk factor for postmenopausal osteoporosis. This may be because a magnesium deficiency alters calcium metabolism, as well as the hormone that regulates calcium levels. Several studies have suggested that magnesium supplementation improves bone mineral density. In fact, it is one of the major factors in bone metabolism.
Magnesium is important to carbohydrate metabolism. It may influence the release and activity of insulin, the hormone that helps control blood glucose levels. Elevated blood glucose levels increase the loss of magnesium in the urine, which in turn lowers blood levels of magnesium. This explains why low blood levels of magnesium (hypomagnesemia) are seen in poorly controlled Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Migraine suffers can often benefit from taking magnesium. Migraine triggers and the causes of migraines are often a mystery. Fortunately magnesium can benefit migraine sufferers and as naturopaths we would always suggest a magnesium supplement.
Although magnesium is present in many foods, it usually occurs in only small amounts. As with most nutrients, daily needs for magnesium cannot be met from a single food.
The magnesium content of refined foods is usually low. Whole-wheat bread, for example, has twice as much magnesium as white bread because the magnesium-rich germ and bran are removed when white flour is processed. Over 80% of magnesium in grains is lost in the refining of wholefoods.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97-98 %) individuals in each life-stage and gender group.
The 1999 RDAs for magnesium for adults, in milligrams (mg) are:
|Ages 14 - 18||410 mg||360 mg||400 mg||360 mg|
|Ages 19 - 30||400 mg||310 mg||350 mg||310 mg|
|Ages 31 +||420 mg||320 mg||360 mg||320 mg|
With the progressing degradation of our food, daily magnesium intakes have progressively declined in many countries, including New Zealand.
At healthyonline, we stock a number of different supplements containing magnesium. Our two favourite magnesium supplements recommended by our naturopaths are below;
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