Have you heard of magnesium? It’s likely that you have, as it is an important mineral for the body. While most people know about magnesium, many don’t know what it does for the body. The truth is, magnesium is required for a staggering number of chemical reactions and processes in your body. One of the most important among these is the transporting of calcium; without magnesium, it would be difficult to get calcium through cell membranes. Are you concerned about the magnesium in your diet? There are signs to look for, and foods you can eat to recover from magnesium deficiency.
If you find yourself constantly craving chocolate, this can be a critical indicator that you’re low on magnesium. In general, our cravings come from our body’s need for certain nutrients; what we crave often contains certain nutrients, vitamins, or minerals that we’re lacking. While binging on chocolate (and other fatty or sugary foods) can help you satisfy your craving and some of your nutrient needs, it’s better to figure out what precisely is missing from your diet, and eat accordingly. Fortunately for all you chocolate lovers out there, Dark chocolate contains about a quarter of the body’s daily magnesium needs.
Issues With Digestion
One of the many functions of magnesium is to facilitate the ease of digestion. It helps with this process by reducing the constriction and contraction of your intestines. This, in turn, makes it much easier for the body to pass waste. Conversely, a lack of magnesium has the opposite effect: the intestines contract more, which makes it more difficult for your bowel movements to pass through. In severe cases, this can lead to constipation. With that in mind, it is better to take in the recommended level of magnesium every day if possible.
Blood Pressure Regulation
It’s well known that certain minerals, like sodium, are harmful to the heart, blood vessels, and consequently, blood pressure. It’s also known, that potassium is good for the heart. However, magnesium also plays a significant role in heart health. Magnesium helps to relax the cells of the body; this is what helps the aforementioned digestive system, but it applies to blood vessels in the circulatory system as well. A shortage of magnesium can cause blood pressure to rise, but there are other factors to consider. Keep a close watch on the levels of both your blood pressure and magnesium intake.
In addition to helping the blood vessels, proper levels of magnesium can benefit the heart directly. The heart, which beats to move blood through the circulatory system, has an established and efficient rhythm to perform its task without overexertion. A severe shortage of magnesium in the body can lead to arrhythmia, which is an irregular heartbeat. This is a severe condition that can lead to other complications. If you think you’re experiencing arrhythmia, talk to your doctor, and consider getting more foods rich in magnesium into your diet.
Pains and Cramps
Do you regularly suffer from muscle pain, cramps, or spasms? That could be an indication that your magnesium levels are low. Magnesium helps muscle fibers to relax, which in turn relieves tension, prevents damage, and allows the body to repair damage brought on by the stress of moving. A lack of magnesium can cause muscles to trigger involuntarily; this leads to pain, muscle locking, and spasms. If you experience constant cramps and pain even with only moderate exercise, consider increasing your magnesium intake to see if that solves the problem.
If you find that you’re always suffering from significantly increased levels of stress or anxiety, the cause may be a problem with your magnesium intake. This is particularly true if you are getting caught up on, anxious, or angry over even the smallest details, or if normally, you aren’t prone to anxiety or panic attacks. There is some research that suggests the relaxation effect provided by magnesium does not just extend to the physical body. Magnesium supplements have been known to help curb irritability and stress levels.
Some sources indicate that difficulty getting to sleep can be related to a magnesium deficiency. This can be especially burdensome because of the general fatigue that comes with a lack of magnesium; one is incredibly tired, but also unable to sleep. When you consider the muscle spasms that also arise in the absence of magnesium, it’s easy to toss and turn all night in pain or wake from a deep sleep because it’s difficult to get comfortable. Studies indicate that proper levels of magnesium can help reduce sleepless nights.Related: 8 Little Changes to Sleep Better
Headaches and Migraines
If you frequently suffer from headaches or migraines, be sure that you’re getting enough magnesium; a deficiency can lead to pains caused by tension in the neck muscles. As mentioned earlier, magnesium can help muscles relax, which in turn helps relieve some tension. In the case of migraines, there is some encouraging evidence that magnesium can play a role in reducing their frequency and severity, mainly in part by soothing the muscles responsible for the pain. Magnesium has been proven helpful for dealing with cluster headaches; consider trying a supplement if you regularly endure head pains.
Along with difficulties evacuating the bowels, which can suggest digestive trouble, you may also experience heartburn or acid reflux with a lack of adequate magnesium. Anyone who has had a bout of indigestion can agree that it is a painful and unpleasant experience. If this frequently occurs after your meals, even with foods that aren’t spicy and are low in acidic content, it may be time to consider adding more magnesium to your diet. A lack of magnesium can also cause related issues, such as nausea or vomiting, which can make eating difficult, to begin with.
At this point, you may be reading the list of symptoms and realizing that you experience a few, or perhaps many of these problems. Fortunately, there are many foods rich in magnesium that can help you get your levels back on track. Check in with your doctor, and in the meantime, consider adding at least a few of these items to your plate on a regular basis:
Nuts are a great source of magnesium, but they also provide many other benefits. For example, many nuts are high in monounsaturated fatty acids. You’ve probably heard that fat is bad for you, but this is only partially true; there is good fat, and there is bad fat, and nuts contain healthy levels of good fat which can help boost the good type of cholesterol. Additionally, you’ll also be picking up a hearty helping of Vitamin E, as well as some B Vitamins every time you chow down on a serving of nuts.
FishRelated: You Should Take Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements
Certain types of fish, particularly halibut, are excellent sources of magnesium. Fish, like nuts, also tend to have the right kind of fatty acids, which promote brain health, among other things. Fish is also a better source of protein than red meats, which can come loaded with unhealthy types of fat, and therefore increase the risk of high blood pressure, and consequently, heart disease. Just make sure you’re not deep frying the fish; frying fish may make it flavorful, but grilling or baking fish is a better way to add flavor while also preserving the nutritional content lost in frying.
Chocolate, as mentioned earlier, is also a source of magnesium. This is especially true of dark chocolate, which contains a sizable amount of the recommended daily allowance. Let’s not discount the other minerals found in cocoa; these include copper, zinc, and phosphorous, but also calcium and potassium, both of which work well with magnesium. One bonus to eating chocolate is that the sugar found in it can instantly help you to feel a little better, even if the magnesium doesn’t. Just be sure not to eat chocolate more than sparingly, so that you avoid taking on too many calories.
Rice products provide a higher level of vitamins and minerals than other products in the bread and grains category; one of these is of course magnesium. It’s helpful for facilitating the function of several major organs and organ structures, such as the kidneys, the heart, and the brain and nerves. Additionally, rice bran has a low level of sodium, which also helps heart health by keeping blood pressure stable. Rice bran also provides plenty of dietary fiber, which makes bowel movements much easier; a good rule of thumb is many foods high in fiber also provide significant levels of magnesium.
If you’re less into rice, quinoa is a convenient substitute. Quinoa is quite popular, perhaps especially among vegan and vegetarian diets, because of its protein content. It contains all of the essential amino acids, and it is also packed with other vital vitamins and minerals, such as iron, magnesium, fiber, and zinc. Essentially, with its nutrition profile, quinoa is much like brown rice. Because quinoa does add a lot of carbohydrates to the diet, the key is proper portion size to get the most out of this superfood.
It turns that out pumpkins are good for more than just pie and jack-o-lanterns. Save those pumpkin seeds and put them to work for your dietary needs. Pumpkin seeds contain high levels of magnesium, zinc, and other nutrients. These can help to bolster the immune system, making them a great food to fight infections. Not sure how to add pumpkin seeds to the diet? Throw them in a trail mix with nuts, chocolate, and other (magnesium rich) goodies, or roast them and enjoy them as a fun snack all on their own.
Spinach is another food often classified as a superfood, and for good reason. This leafy green won’t make you incredibly strong like you’ve seen in cartoons, but it is rich in a number of vitamins minerals, including magnesium, potassium, calcium, and zinc. This nutrient-rich quality is actually true of many leafy greens. This abundance of mineral content explains why so many of them contribute significantly to heart and bone health, and consequently why they should be considered staples in the diet. Another nutrient of note is fiber, which can aid in the digestive process.
Many fruits contain high levels of magnesium. They also tend to have Vitamin C, which helps with immune health. Fruits, in general, tend to be high in antioxidants, which make them great for countering cell damage, keeping the body fresh and looking younger longer. Bananas, figs, and avocados tend to be rich in magnesium; they are also a good source of simple sugars with a negligible effect on blood sugar levels. Avocados are another source of healthy fats, which contribute to brain health.Related: 8 Fruits With Anti-Cancer Benefits
Black beans are another source of magnesium; additionally, they provide a significant helping of protein, which makes them a useful addition to vegan diets. As a source of protein, they also tend to contain much lower levels of fat than other sources. They provide essential levels of other vitamins and minerals and pair well with a wide variety of foods, which makes them easy to fit into just about any diet. Black beans can help protect the body against many ailments, including inflammation, heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Keep in mind that too much of anything is a bad thing; this includes magnesium. If you experience frequent and recurrent symptoms like any of the nine detailed above, consider seeking medical counsel as well as dietary changes. While overdoses of magnesium are rare, they do occur; this is particularly true for those with kidney disease because the kidneys are less able to flush out the excess magnesium from the body. If you experience diarrhea, respiratory distress, confusion, or low blood pressure, you may be experiencing an overdose. Stop supplements and seek medical attention immediately.