What is Magnesium (Mg)?
According to NIH, “magnesium is a nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy.”
That means this mineral which is often referred to as the “miracle mineral” is crucial for those energy-dependent processes that take place in the human body.
It is also vital for Mg levels to be kept between the lower and upper levels required for a healthy body.
How Magnesium Benefits Us
It is an essential mineral that controls more than 300 enzymes in the human body; subsequently playing a very important role in many of the processes in our body.
The most important magnesium benefits include:
- the maintenance and formation of healthy bones and teeth
- regulates the functioning of the muscles (alleviates cramps and muscle spasms)
- regulates the functioning of the nervous system
- releasing energy from food
- regulating the functioning of the heart
- normalizing blood pressure
- a well-functioning memory and the ability to concentrate
- reducing fatigue, especially during periods of stress
- reducing insulin resistance which could lead to type 2 diabetes
- in women the reduction of complaints such as headaches, depression, mood swings, and water retention during menses
- improving digestive health (assists in preventing and relieving constipation since it helps to relax intestinal muscles. (Which allows for food and waste to move through the gut smoothly)
- improvement in the absorption of other vitamins and minerals (regulates calcium levels and improves vitamin D, potassium, phosphorus, and sodium absorption)
- anti-inflammatory properties of magnesium benefit the body when it helps to reduce chronic inflammation associated with some medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, IBS, fibromyalgia, etc.
In the human body, magnesium is stored in the form of magnesium salt. The amount naturally present in adults’ bodies is about 25 grams. Half of it is in our bones, a quarter in the muscles, and the rest in the nervous system and other organs.
Magnesium is absorbed in the small intestines where the absorption level varies between 30 and 80 percent. This depends on how much is available from the individual’s diet and other nutritional components.
How Much Magnesium Does One Need?
A lack of Mg will generally manifest itself in complaints that are physical in nature, i.e. getting tired quickly, blurred vision, leg cramps, etc.
For adult women, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is around 320 milligrams per day.
Taking magnesium while pregnant should be limited to only 40 mg more than the RDA. No extra magnesium is needed when breastfeeding.
The daily intake for men ranges between 410 mg and 420 mg.
According to ODS, the recommended dietary allowance are as shown in Table 1 below:
People who participate in activities where they perspire a lot will need a higher daily intake. Loss of about 2 liters of water through perspiration equates to a loss of about 10mg of Mg. That means an extra intake of about 30 mg is needed to compensate for the loss. This is achieved by consuming whole foods after the activity.
To get an idea: a medium banana contains about 32 mg, 8 ounces of plain low-fat yogurt 42 mg, 100 grams of spinach about 87 mg, 100 g of dark chocolate 228 mg, and 100 grams of cashew nuts about 270 mg.
Generally, anyone who eats a healthy and balanced diet should not experience a magnesium deficiency. That said, Mg deficiencies, however, have become more commonplace.
The times in which we live seem to get busier and as such, we’re always on the run. The resultant stress brought on by this kind of lifestyle negatively influences the absorption of the mineral in the body.
A deficiency can therefore quickly develop. About 70 percent of western countries’ population will struggle with a deficiency at some stage.
Can I Cover My Daily Requirement Through Food?
A healthy and balanced diet is important to avoid or compensate for any deficiency.
The human body does not produce magnesium on its own and poor eating habits can easily lead to a magnesium deficiency, especially in periods of fatigue and stress.
How much magnesium is ingested through food? It depends on various factors. These factors include things like:
- the amount supplied by the body
- the amount of magnesium offered
- how easy the magnesium salt dissolves
- the food’s composition in terms of phytate, roughage, fatty acids, and the time it takes for the food to move through the body
What Foods Do You Find Magnesium In?
Fortunately, many foods contain the mineral and it is found abundantly in:
- grain products made from rye, oats, barley, wheat, nuts, etc.
- veggies like peas and beans are particularly rich in magnesium.
- water from the tap (hard water) and mineral water which is marked as “containing magnesium” are other good sources. There is on average 8.2 mg in tap water.
- dairy products
- meat (only small amounts though)
To promote the absorption of magnesium, it is highly recommended to
- avoid/reduce eating foods rich in calcium for at least 2 hours before or after eating magnesium-rich foods
- avoid zinc supplements in high dosages
- treat any Vitamin D deficiency
- rather eat raw, not cooked veggies
- quit the smoking habit
Magnesium-rich foods include:
- Fruit: Magnesium can be found in large amounts in bananas, strawberries, pineapple, apricots, plums, and grapefruit. Avocados are also packed with this mineral.
- Nuts and Seeds: It’s a good idea to eat a handful of nuts every day. For example, almonds, cashew nuts, Brazil nuts, linseed, pumpkin seeds (1 oz contains 156 mg), and sesame seeds contain a lot of magnesium.
- Legumes: While these are rich in magnesium, they also contain a lot of carbohydrates. So enjoy with measure.
- Green leafy vegetables: In general, the greener the vegetable, the more magnesium it contains. Spinach, kale, and endive are especially rich in magnesium.
- Dark chocolate: Cocoa is one of the nutrients that contain the most magnesium. One hundred grams of cocoa powder contains no less than 500 mg of magnesium!
Most balanced eating plans prescribe a daily intake of 3 servings of vegetables and 2 fruits. When you include some whole grain products in your daily diet you will meet the daily magnesium intake required to stay healthy and should not need any supplements.
When snacking consider a healthy option like a handful of seeds or nuts.
What Are The Symptoms of Low Magnesium In The Body?
A magnesium deficiency is quite rare. When it is present, however, it is often not easy to notice.
There are a number of magnesium deficiency symptoms that may indicate a deficiency.
For example, muscle and nerve disorders such as cramps, trembling, twitching eyelids, or cold hands and feet can be typical symptoms of a magnesium deficiency.
Other complaints include things such as poor sleep, listlessness, increased irritability, cravings, depression. A decrease in libido can also be an indicator of the possible lack of magnesium.
Alcoholics, in particular, may suffer from a magnesium deficiency.
Diseases that affect the digestive system can cause lower absorption of nutrients leading to a deficiency. Examples are inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that typically can lead to a deficiency are ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and microscopic colitis (the large intestines are inflamed and cause watery diarrhea).
Chronic vomiting and diarrhea cause the body to quickly become dehydrated. There is not only a loss of water but also of electrolytes which are found in magnesium and potassium.
Diuretics are often prescribed with other medications to older people when they suffer from conditions such as high blood pressure or have heart problems. The diuretics bring about a loss of water which leads to a loss of magnesium. Laxatives also dehydrate the body.
What To Do About A Magnesium Deficiency?
Deficiency can be combated by consuming magnesium-rich foods or taking a supplement.
If you recognize some of these symptoms or are affected by one of the diseases mentioned, you may have a deficiency. This is the time to consult with your doctor or pharmacist to advise you on the best way to replenish your magnesium levels.
Also, consider your lifestyle. Certain habits have a strong influence on the absorption and effect of magnesium in the body. Someone who often drinks soda, alcohol, and/or caffeinated drinks, likes to eat sweets, or leads a stressful life, is more at risk of having a deficiency.
A deficiency may result in long-lasting repercussions namely calcification of kidneys and blood vessels.
When Should You Take A Magnesium Supplement?
- Living a lifestyle where you follow a healthy and balanced diet, usually, is the best way to ensure that your body absorbs enough magnesium.
- In some cases, however, it may be appropriate or even necessary to supplement your daily diet with a supplement such as Magnesium Breakthrough.
- Dietary supplements are convenient as you know exactly how much magnesium is ingested daily and are normally available in capsule, tablet, or powder forms. Magnesium in oil form is available for either oral intake or topical application.
- The recommended daily dosage should not be exceeded. A fair amount for dietary supplements is 250 mg.
- Some of the types of magnesium are Magnesium Citrate, Magnesium Aspartate, Magnesium Glycinate, Magnesium Chloride, Magnesium Oxide, Magnesium Taurate, Magnesium Lactate, Magnesium Malate, and Magnesium Sulfate.
- The magnesium types best absorbed by the human body are citrate, aspartate, chloride, and lactate.
- The positive benefits of dietary supplements are generally noticeable soon after taking them.
- A deficiency can have an adverse effect on the daily activities of those people who fall into any of the categories mentioned below:
- People who generally are more at risk of experiencing a deficiency and as a result need to take magnesium supplements include:
- People whose participation in sports is intensive.
- People who lead extremely stressful or exhausting lives.
- Pregnant women.
- Young people from 12 years who are fully grown.
- Women who are in menopause and struggling with hormonal fluctuations.
- People age 50 and older have an increased risk of osteoporosis developing.
- People take certain medicines which lower the absorption of magnesium such as diuretics and laxatives. This causes the loss of water which leads to dehydration.
- Since magnesium has a relaxing effect, people who suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia sometimes take it before going to bed.
Other Magnesium Uses In The Human Body
Not only does this mineral play a vital role in biological processes in the human body, it often is used for other purposes such as:
- When a person has to undergo a medical procedure, it proves helpful in getting the bowel ready.
- Serves well as a laxative for relief from constipation.
- When taking Mg orally it can act as an antacid. This brings relief from the symptoms generally associated with heartburn and indigestion.
- Reduction in the risk of seizures in women who suffer from eclampsia. Eclampsia is a condition in which one or more convulsions occur in a pregnant woman suffering from high blood pressure, often followed by falling into a coma and posing a threat to the health of mother and baby. The treatment of choice for this condition is the administration of Mg either intravenously or by injection.
Is A Magnesium Overdose Possible?
While an overdose of magnesium is a rare occurrence, it is possible.
Anyone who decides to add magnesium supplements to their diet should be well informed about the appropriate amount of magnesium intake.
Source of Image above
Are There Any Side Effects Associated With Magnesium Supplements?
An overdose can lead to a number of unpleasant side effects.
As very high doses can prove fatal, it is imperative that the daily recommended intake of 350 mg for women and 410 mg for men is not exceeded.
When too much Mg is consumed, high magnesium levels may develop. Some of the symptoms associated with high levels of Mg include:
- Gastrointestinal problems and diarrhea
- Vomiting and nausea.
- Impaired breathing.
- Low blood pressure and muscle weakness are dangerous side effects that occur when the dosage greatly exceeds 350 mg per day.
- Hot flashes, and in rare cases, kidney stones are also side effects that people experienced.
- When magnesium builds up in the body, the body may fail to excrete it quickly enough. This is the result of regularly taking large doses and can result in death from cardiac arrest.
Should you experience any of these overdose symptoms, you are advised to consult with a doctor or pharmacist.
How Can You Get Rid Of Excess Magnesium In Your Body?
Only in extremely rare cases will a person need to take steps to rid the body of any excess magnesium.
An excess amount in the bloodstream is known as hypermagnesemia. This condition is rare and normally is the result of renal failure or defective functioning of the kidneys.
People who are aware of an underlying condition pertaining to their kidneys will have to consult a medical professional for treatment should they experience any of the symptoms mentioned.
Blood tests are used to determine how much magnesium is in the blood. The level of the mineral in the blood subsequently indicates how severe the condition is.
Normal levels range between 1.7 and 2.3 mg/dL. Levels above the normal magnesium levels cause a variety of symptoms depending on how high the level is. Levels exceeding 15.6 mg/dL can cause the person to fall into a coma.
How Long Does Magnesium Stay In Your Body?
Mg is expelled from the body quite quickly. The rate at which it is cleared from the body varies from person to person but on average around 70% is lost within a day.
As mentioned earlier, the mineral performs important functions in our body and magnesium benefits our overall health greatly.
Many different types of food contain magnesium. It is, however, still possible that a deficiency can occur. Magnesium supplements can then offer a solution.
You are encouraged to talk to your doctor before taking dietary supplements. Any mention in this article of a specific product does not represent an endorsement of that product.