Magnesium is one of the top 5 main nutrients our bodies need in order to stay healthy. If you are considering taking a magnesium supplement because you feel you do not get enough magnesium in your system, the fact is you may be among the 50 percent of people in the US and Europe who get less than the recommended daily intake of magnesium(1). There are many ways to ensure you get a diet rich in magnesium but what is the best source of magnesium? We will take a look at why you should be paying more attention to your magnesium intake.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is the fourth most present mineral in our body and is crucial to the functioning of our body. It helps regulate our blood pressure, makes our bones strong, and makes sure our heart maintains it’s rhythmic beat. It is found in our bones, teeth, and red blood cells and serves as a building block for our DNA.
Magnesium is vital to our nervous system because it produces blood platelets and helps maintain the density of our bones.
Benefits of Magnesium
Every cell in our body contains magnesium. Here are some of the health benefits of magnesium.
Calms nerves and anxiety
Magnesium is responsible for the functioning of the brain and is said to provide a calming effect. Studies have shown that a deficiency in magnesium can play a role in many mental health disorders including anxiety(2).
When you are stressed your body uses more amounts of magnesium. However, large amounts of stress deplete your body of this mineral. So you must ensure your body is getting adequate amounts of magnesium every day.
Prevents migraine headaches
Low magnesium in our blood has been linked to migraines so sometimes magnesium is used as a way to treat and prevent migraines.
One study(3) showed that taking magnesium regularly can prevent migraine attacks by 41.6 percent. Another study even showed that menstrual-related migraines could be prevented by taking a magnesium supplement daily (4).
Lowers your blood pressure
Research has shown that those deficient in magnesium may benefit from its use in lowering blood pressure. A study by the American Heart Association found that people who took 368 mg of magnesium over 3 months had a reduction in systolic blood pressure of an average of 2.00 millimeters(mm) Hg of mercury and 1.78 mm Hg in diastolic pressure(4).
Helps you fall asleep
Magnesium helps relax your muscles and calm your nerves, this in return can help you fall asleep at night. In fact, magnesium is preferred by some over melatonin as the supplement of choice for insomnia.
Low levels of magnesium may be responsible when you have difficulty falling asleep. The more stressed you are the more magnesium you lose and the harder it may be to fall asleep at night.
A lack of magnesium is also responsible for leg cramps or restless leg syndrome and this can disrupt your sleep. Magnesium can stimulate activity in the sympathetic nervous system because it suppresses the release of catecholamines.
If you decide to take magnesium to help you sleep it should be taken 45 minutes before bed. First, speak with your doctor to find out the proper dosage to take.
It can improve your exercise performance
Magnesium helps increase energy by converting food into energy. It is responsible for moving sugar from our blood into our muscles during our workout and disposing of lactic acid which accumulates in our muscles and causes pain(2).
Important for the heart
Magnesium is essential to the health of our body and responsible for 300 biochemical reactions. It also maintains our hearts steady beat and blood pressure.
If magnesium levels are low, that puts you at risk for arrhythmia(irregular heartbeats) and heart palpitations(the noticeable strong, irregular, and rapid heartbeat).
Due to the fact that magnesium lowers our blood pressure and decreases the risk of arrhythmia, making sure you have a magnesium-rich diet can limit the complications of congestive heart failure.
Helps with digestion
Magnesium relaxes the muscles of the wall in our digestive tract. It helps us have bowel movements by controlling the acid in our stomach. So taking magnesium is a good way to help keep you regular.
However, those with digestive issues, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, for instance, is not recommended to take magnesium because it can cause diarrhea.
Types of Magnesium
Magnesium is essential for the functioning of our body and good health. Magnesium cannot be absorbed into the body without it first being attached to another substance that can transport it. Here are 7 types of magnesium available.
1. Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate
This is the tablet of a mineral chelate form of magnesium that contains an ion of magnesium oxide with a mixture of another form of amino acid. This could be a lactate, a glycine, aspartate or arginate but the best form is aspartate or arginate.
2. Magnesium Oxide
This is commonly used as a laxative and for the relief of acid reflux. It is also known as “Magnesia”. Maybe you have heard of “Milk of Magnesia”.
3. Magnesium Citrate
This form is also used as a laxative to induce bowel movements and is often used before procedures like a colonoscopy to clean out the colon to make it visible. It is also used for the prevention of kidney stones.
4. Magnesium Orotate
This is the most effective of magnesium because it is the easiest absorbed. It also can be used as a way to relieve constipation.
5. Magnesium Chloride
This form is made of chlorine and magnesium. It serves as a PH regulator and a cleans for the body by getting rid of the acidic build up in the kidneys. It is most commonly used to help with the manufacturing of paper, some types of cement, and fireproofing agents.
6. Magnesium Lactate
Magnesium lactate is most commonly used for treating digestive issues such as heartburn, indigestion, and upset stomach. It should not be taken by those with kidney disease or kidney related issues.
7. Magnesium Sulfate
Magnesium sulfate is commonly known as Epsom salt and is a mixture of sulfur, magnesium, and oxygen. It is used to prevent seizures in pregnant women who suffer from severe pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, or toxemia.
8. Magnesium Carbonate
Magnesium carbonate is commonly known as chalk. It is what is used as the drying agent for pitchers, gymnast, and rock climbers. It is also used in flooring, toothpaste, cosmetics, and fire extinguishing compositions.
Best Sources of Magnesium
Many people do not reach the 400 mg daily recommended daily intake(RDI) of magnesium every day. The following are great sources of magnesium.
Foods Rich in Magnesium
Dark Chocolate 70-85% cocoa 33% of the RDI in 3.5 ounces (100 grams).
Avocados 25% of the RDI in a quarter cup (24 grams).
Nuts Almonds 25% of the RDI in a quarter cup (24 grams). Cashews 25% of the RDI in a quarter cup (30 grams).
Legumes Black beans 30% of the RDI in a cup (172 grams).
Tofu 13 % of the RDI in 3.5-oz serving (100-grams).
Seeds Pumpkin seeds 37% of RDI in 1-oz (28-grams).
Whole grains Buckwheat 16% of RDI in 1 oz (28 grams)
Some fatty fish Halibut 27% of the RDI in 3.5 ounces (100 grams). Mackerel 19% of the RDI in 3.5 ounces (100 grams).
Bananas 9% of RDI in one large banana
Leafy greens Swiss chard 38% of the RDI in a cup (175 grams). Spinach, boiled, 39% of the RDI in a cup (180 grams).
Before taking any supplement always check with your doctor especially if you have health issues. Magnesium supplements are generally well-tolerated and readily available. However, they may not be safe to use for those who take diuretics, heart medications, or antibiotics.
The most recommend forms of magnesium are magnesium citrate, glycinate, orotate and carbonate because they absorb the best.
There are many different supplements to choose from.
Magnesium is a very important mineral that is needed for the functioning of our heart, blood pressure, mood, and energy among other things.
If you feel like you may not be getting enough magnesium in your diet, you are not alone. Check with your doctor to take precautionary steps to ensure your body does not become deficient.
Getting a diet full of magnesium is not only beneficial to helping you fight stress it can help keep your heart running optimally and prevent future illnesses. If you feel like you can’t get enough foods rich in magnesium in your system take a supplement.
Remember to talk to your doctor first.
Do you think you get enough magnesium in your diet? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below.