Magnesium is an essential mineral the body uses in more than 300 biochemical reactions. This critical mineral plays a role in the healthy function of many of your body systems, including the immune system, cardiovascular system, skeletal system, and endocrine system. Magnesium also aids in the manufacture of energy and protein. While magnesium deficiency is rare, many adults have a diet lacking in magnesium. This can lead to a magnesium inadequacy. Here are some things you need to know to evaluate your own intake of magnesium.
8. Role of Magnesium
Magnesium is a micronutrient that plays a role in many body functions. In the immune system, magnesium is involved in the formation of antibodies. Your heart relies on magnesium as well as other electrolytes in order to maintain normal muscle contractions for a healthy heartbeat. The absorption of calcium, which is so critical for the formation of teeth and bones, relies on magnesium. The proper function of the thyroid and parathyroid glands, as well as the regulation of blood glucose levels, rely on adequate amounts of magnesium in the body. Additionally, magnesium activates the integral unit of energy within your cells.
7. Recommended Dietary Allowance of Magnesium
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of magnesium by life stage can be found here. The RDA for men is 400-420 mg per day. Women should consume 310-320 mg per day. While magnesium supplements are available, it is ideal to obtain this micronutrient through magnesium-rich foods. Magnesium levels interconnect and balance with levels of other nutrients in the body, such as vitamin K, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D. By consuming nutrient-rich foods, you are giving your body the very best chance to obtain just the right balance of these various nutrients.
6. Magnesium Deficiency Risk Factors
Many adults may suffer from magnesium inadequacy, but in some cases, true magnesium deficiency can occur. Those who suffer from chronic medical conditions are usually at greatest risk of developing magnesium deficiency. Patients with diarrhea or gastrointestinal diseases that result in malabsorption of nutrients may be deficient in magnesium and other electrolytes. People with type 2 diabetes may have lower magnesium levels due to more frequent urinary excretion. Certain medications, including various antacids, antiviral agents, diuretics, and blood pressure medications, can lead to magnesium deficiency. Alcoholism can be another risk factor for magnesium deficiency.
5. Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
There are many possible symptoms of magnesium deficiency, which are often difficult to distinguish from other diseases and disorders. Early symptoms may include nausea, fatigue, headaches, and difficulty falling or staying asleep. Some people who are deficient in this mineral may have increased anxiety, jitters, and restless leg syndrome. Muscle weakness, muscle cramps, and aching muscles can be attributed to magnesium deficiency. In advanced cases, cardiac problems such as heart attack or irregular heartbeat can occur. If you notice any of these symptoms, see your physician for a complete exam and workup to determine the cause of your issues.
4. Diagnosis of Magnesium Deficiency
To diagnose magnesium deficiency, your doctor will take a thorough history and give you a physical exam. Your doctor will check your levels of calcium and potassium. If these levels are low, magnesium deficiency may be the culprit. In addition, if your doctor suspects you have a malabsorption disorder, and nutrients are not being properly absorbed from your digestive tract, a serum magnesium test may be ordered. A serum magnesium test will not tell you how much magnesium is stored in the tissues of your body, but it will indicate whether your levels are low. The normal range for serum magnesium is 1.8-2.2 mg/dL.
3. Food Sources of Magnesium
Fortunately, there are many delicious and nutritious sources of magnesium-rich foods available. A handful of nuts can supply 20% of the RDA for magnesium. Almonds, dry roasted cashews, oil roasted peanuts, or two tablespoons of peanut butter are all good options. One cup of soy milk, ½ cup of cooked black beans, or two slices of whole wheat bread each provide 15% of the RDA. Spinach is an excellent source of magnesium, with ½ cup providing 20% of the RDA. Some breakfast cereals are fortified with magnesium as well.
2. Magnesium Supplements
There are a variety of magnesium supplements on the market in a variety of forms. The supplements come as compounds such as magnesium oxide, magnesium chloride, and magnesium citrate. The label on the bottle is required to give the amount of elemental magnesium in the supplement, not the weight of the entire compound. Magnesium citrate and magnesium chloride appear to be absorbed more completely in the gut than magnesium oxide. Dietary magnesium from whole foods is superior to that in supplements.
1. Risks of Magnesium Supplements
As with any supplement or medication, there are risks and side effects involved with taking magnesium. Side effects include nausea, cramping, and diarrhea or loose stools. If you are taking diuretics, heart medications, antacids, antibiotics, or muscle relaxants, be sure to check with your physician to make sure there will be no drug interactions. People with gastrointestinal diseases, heart disease, or kidney disease should not take magnesium supplements without medical supervision. It is possible to overdose on magnesium. Signs of overdose are nausea, diarrhea, muscle weakness, fatigue, and decreased blood pressure. At extremely high doses magnesium can cause death.