What you should know about magnesium and your health
When it comes to keeping well, vitamins often get the glory, but minerals are also vital for wellness. They play an important role in things like the strength of our bones and teeth, proper fluid balance and muscle contraction. This week we’re zeroing in on magnesium to investigate the role it plays in your health.
Magnesium is one of the body’s most abundant minerals, and it has a part in more than 300 chemical reactions, which function to steady blood pressure, support a healthy immune system, maintain muscle function, regulate the nervous system and build bone strength.
Studies such as these, recorded by Prevent Disease, Diabetes Journals and Clinical Nutrition/Nutra Ingredients have shown that magnesium also influences the release of insulin, regulating blood glucose levels and reducing the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Magnesium plays a part in regulating blood pressure, and a study from Harvard School of Public Health shows that increased magnesium levels may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Magnesium deficiency can present itself in a wide range of symptoms, but the most common indicators are muscle cramps, difficulty sleeping and headaches.
From a dietary perspective, it’s fairly uncommon to be magnesium deficient, however, certain lifestyle conditions can increase the body’s magnesium demand. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, athletes, growing children and those experiencing prolonged periods of stress can be more prone to deficiency.
Although magnesium is generally plentiful in our food supply, less processed foods are the best source, so those consuming a highly processed diet could be missing out. Carbonated drinks – including sparkling water, alcohol, caffeine and salt can all affect our magnesium balance.
With its role in regulating hundreds of biochemical reactions on an ongoing basis, it’s important to get sufficient magnesium. Here are five magnesium rich foods to boost your intake:
1. Dark leafy greens:
Having a cup of raw or cooked spinach, kale or swiss chard with dinner will add more magnesium to your meal.
2. Nuts and seeds:
Half a cup of pumpkin seeds provides almost all of our daily requirement Almonds, sunflower seeds and brazil nuts are also great sources of magnesium. Mix a handful of these with a few chunks of good quality dark chocolate for an energy boosting snack.
Not only is avocado filled with heart healthy fats, it’s also loaded with magnesium. Slice one into your lunch time salad, or mash onto toast as part of your breakfast.
In addition to being great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, fish including halibut, wild salmon, mackerel and tuna will up your magnesium intake.
One cup of cooked black beans or soy beans offers up to 30% of the recommended amount of magnesium required for each day.
Some medications and digestive difficulties can cause problems absorbing magnesium from food. While there are supplements available to support this, it’s generally best to get what you can from a healthy diet.
This article isn’t intended to substitute for medical advice - if you’re concerned about low magnesium, consult your doctor for a blood test and the best course of action.