If you are feeling sluggish, moody or irritable and suffer from fatigue, and muscle weakness, muscle cramping or headaches you might just be deficient in magnesium.

Magnesium is a mineral, which contributes to more than 300 biochemical reactions in the human body. Magnesium is involved in the formation of healthy bones and teeth; it helps to maintain healthy heart rhythm and can regulate blood pressure. It is involved in muscle contraction and relaxation; supports transmission of nerve signals and can regulate blood glucose levels. [1]

A poor diet, certain medications such as proton pump inhibitors and chronic use of loop diuretics, excessive zinc supplementation, and excessive alcohol intake can reduce the body’s store of magnesium or increase requirements.[1,2] Due to the body’s inability to adequately absorb nutrients, lower levels of magnesium are also prevalent in medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, endocrine conditions such as hyperthyroidism and poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. [3]

Various studies from North America and Europe have shown that the typical Western-style Diet is low in magnesium content. [3] Farm produce such as vegetables and fruit have shown a declining nutrient profile over the past decades and this may be due to poor soil management and other modern farming practices. [4] Poor food choices and consumption of highly processed foods are also to blame for poor dietary magnesium intake.

How to increase magnesium in the body

There are several ways to increase your magnesium stores and all should be taken into consideration. If you show signs or symptoms of deficiency then you might want to consider the following:

  • Eat organic or biodynamic foods high in magnesium on a daily basis.
  • Apply magnesium oil or cream to body or soak in a bath (Epsom salts or Magnesium chloride flakes)
  • Take magnesium supplements

 

Top 12 Magnesium Rich Foods

On average and depending on life cycle an adult healthy woman requires 310-360 milligrams magnesium on a daily basis. Adult Men need about 400-420 milligrams per day. [5] The best sources of dietary magnesium are seeds, nuts, fish and whole grain food. Nuts and seeds can be eaten as snacks through the day, can be added to smoothies or can make great toppings for vegetable dishes including salads.

  • Flaxseeds 2 tbsp= 111milligrams
  • Cashews ¼ cup= 90
  • Almonds ¼ cup= 88-109
  • Pumpkin seeds ¼ cup= 317
  • Beans (black, pinto, kidney or chickpeas) ¾ cup= 60-89
  • Cooked soybeans ¾ cup= 109
  • Cooked Spinach ½ cup= 109
  • Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup= 115
  • Peas, cooked 3/4 cup= 121
  • Quinoa, cooked ½ cup= 63
  • Wheat germ cereal, toasted ¼ cup= 96
  • All bran cereals 30g= 85-97

Dark chocolate has always been touted as a magnesium rich food by the health industry but it does not come to the top of this list mainly due to the sugar content of chocolate and the amount of chocolate you have to eat for a good dose of magnesium.  A better option is to add raw, unsweetened cacao nibs or cacao powder to a smoothie in the morning.

I  always think it is best to use food as medicine and try to avoid supplementation however magnesium supplements may be necessary if deficiency is impacting on a person’s health and they need a quick solution. In part 2 of this blog i will discuss the common forms of magnesium supplements used in therapy and discuss effectiveness of topical applications.

References

  1. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Magnesium [internet]. Maryland: U.S Department of Health and Human Services; 2018 [cited 2018 March]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
  2. Gröber U, Schmidt J, & Kisters K. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients [internet]. 2015 [cited 2018 Jan]; 7(9): 8199–8226. Available from: http://doi.org/10.3390/nu7095388
  3. Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Heart Letter. Magnesium: A mineral you might be missing [internet]. 2016 [cited 2018 Jan]. 15] Available from: http://ezproxy.qa.proquest.com/docview/1837084635?accountid=45102
  4. Worthington V. Quality of Organic versus Conventional fruit, Vegetable and Grains. Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine [internet]. 2001 [cited 2018 March]; 7(2): 161-173. Available from: http://doi.org/10.1089/107555301750164244
  5. Dietitians of Canada. Food Sources of Magnesium [internet]. Canada: Dietitians of Canada; 2016 [cited 2018 March]. Available from: https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Minerals/Food-Sources-of-Magnesium.aspx