There is just so much to write about magnesium and its many great health benefits, let’s face it who doesn’t gain from this magnificent mineral?
Magnesium is a key player in many of the body’s functions and its fair to say that every cell in your body contains it and needs it to perform. It is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body with over half of the body’s stores found in the bones, much of the rest is in the muscles and soft tissues, with only one percent in the extracellular fluid.
The roles of magnesium are many and varied, it takes part in bone health, muscle contractions, blood clotting, blood pressure, lung function, immune system support, regulation of the nervous system, protein production, energy metabolism and on top of that it also takes part in over 300 enzymic reactions!
So having said that it is pretty crucial to maintain optimal levels of magnesium and avoid potential health complications. Here’s an overview of some of the health benefits magnesium has to offer:
Studies have shown that magnesium deficiency has been linked to hypertension and suggest that by increasing Magnesium it can help to decrease blood pressure. Which is important when reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Magnesium can assist those who suffer classic migraines, menstrual migraines and cluster headaches. Often those who suffer have low levels of serum magnesium.
Magnesium can assist with the varying physical and emotional symptoms that some women experience throughout their menstrual cycle. Including premenstrual tension (PMS) mood swings, irritability, headaches, tiredness and fluid retention. Magnesium can also relax muscles and therefore reduce the cramps that many women experience during their menstrual period. During pregnancy adequate magnesium can also assist with leg cramps.
Type 2 diabetes
Magnesium takes part in glucose metabolism. It plays a key role in regulating insulin action and insulin-mediated-glucose-uptake. Deficiency in magnesium concentrations can lead to an impairment in insulin action and worsening of insulin resistance in diabetic patients. Interestingly magnesium can curb sugar cravings!
Bones benefit hugely from adequate magnesium levels. Magnesium also works to regulate calcium and good levels along with Vitamin D keep bones strong and lower risk of developing Osteoporosis.
Due to the increased demand and use of magnesium in exercising muscles plus an excess in loss through sweat and urine during exercise it is important to increase amount of magnesium to boost performance.
Anxiety and stress
This mineral has a calming effect and can be very beneficial for the nervous system. It can help to prevent anxiety and nervousness. Stress however, can deplete magnesium levels and a great calming way to increase magnesium is to soak in an Epson salt or Magnesium salt bath.
These are just some of the benefits of magnesium, the list could go on as there are many, many more! Ensuring that you have adequate amounts in your daily diet is so important.
So how much do we need? It is recommended that men (19-30 yr) get at least 420 mg of magnesium in their diet per day, women (19-30ys) should have at least 320 mg and children (9-13 yr) need 240 mg per day.
Eating a healthy diet that is rich in dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and chard, legumes, whole grains such as oats, buckwheat and millet, grass fed beef, free range chicken and fish (especially mackerel, cod and salmon), nuts, seeds, bananas, broccoli and green beans will provide you with magnesium. Also including herbs such as parsley and sage, herbal teas such as chamomile, dandelion & peppermint will boost magnesium intake too.
Here are 10 Foods that are rich in Magnesium:
Spinach – 157 mg per 1 cooked cup (Kale or Swiss chard also contain high levels)
Quinoa – 118 mg in 1/2 a cup
Dark Chocolate - 95 mg in 1 square (YAY!)
Pumpkin seeds - 92 mg in 1/8 a cup
Brown rice–84 mg per serving
Mackerel – 82 mg
Kidney Beans – 70 mg per 1 cup
Avocados – 58 mg per 1 avocado
Broccoli – 51 mg in 1/2 a cooked cup
Bananas – 32 mg per serving
By including these foods in your diet each day, you should meet the daily recommended amounts. However if you don’t think that you are getting enough from your diet then you can opt for a Magnesium supplement. There are a number of different forms available so it’s important to read product labels and stick to the dosage recommended on the packaging. Magnesium toxicity is rare but high doses can cause diarrhoea. If you are unsure you should consult a qualified practitioner.
Pass the spinach I hear you say?! Or perhaps a warm bath?!