Just over half the magnesium in our bodies is located within our bones, with the the majority of the remaining magnesium found inside our tissues and organs. The final 1% is found in our blood.
Watch the video below by Dr. Mark Sircus to understand and appreciate why your diet is fundamental in preventing magnesium deficiency and why blood tests to diagnose deficiencies are in-effect.
Which Foods Contain Magnesium?
Obviously, real food is far more mineral-rich than processed–we all know that. But did you know that buckwheat, brown rice, millet, and quinoa are among the most magnesium-rich whole grains you can find? Brown rice has 10 times more Mg than white rice, and wild rice is twice as Mg rich as brown rice? It’s simple substitutions like these that can make a huge difference in the magnesium balance in your body. (See my most recent post for a more extensive list of Mg-rich foods.)…More at How to Keep the Nutrients You Eat – Huffington Post
Part of the chlorophyll module, which gives vegetables their green colour, contains magnesium. As such, green vegetables are great dietary sources of the mineral, with spinach having the highest concentration.
In addition to green vegetables, some nuts, beans, pulses and seeds can also be good sources of Magnesium.
Good examples of these are almonds, lentils and blackeye peas.
Unrefined grains can also be a source of dietary magnesium but during the refining process (in white flour for example) the germ and bran containing magnesium are removed.
Those living in ‘hard’ water areas and who are able to drink tap water, will also be able to obtain some magnesium though drinking the water.
Recommended Daily Magnesium Levels
The recommended daily allowance of magnesium is 400mg for adult males and 310mg for adult females, with slightly higher amounts needed during the late teen years and during pregnancy.
In children, the recommended daily allowance is 80mg until 3 years, 130mg until 8 years and 240mg until 13 years, for both sexes.
Unfortunately though, a lot of products do not list their magnesium levels on the packaging so some research may have to be done to ensure you are getting enough in your diet. There are however some situations where an individual may need more than this recommended daily allowance:
When a medical condition, or the medication prescribed for it, causes a loss of magnesium, or causes problems with its absorption.
For example, diabetics, particularly those who are unable to properly regulate their illness, can lose magnesium during hyperglycemic episodes through their urine.
Individuals with disorders such as Crohn’s and Coeliac Disease may have problems absorbing magnesium and may lose magnesium if they experience diarrhea. In addition to these, some anti-cancer medications, as well as some antibiotics and diuretics can lead to difficulties with the absorption of magnesium.
Now, I’m no teetotaler, but alcohol is a major diuretic. And so is coffee (don’t worry, I drink that too!) But I’m mindful of the metabolic price I’m paying for enjoying those drinks. And an effortless way to offset some of that mineral loss, especially with your cup of joe, is to add some concentrated mineral drops–it tastes great, and your body will love you for it! And eat Mg-rich foods to ensure metabolic balance….More at How to Keep the Nutrients You Eat – Huffington Post
Their magnesium deficiency here is also linked with liver disease resulting from alcoholism. It is important to consider your magnesium intake should any of these situations apply to you, or if you are an older adult as intake of magnesium tends to be lower in elderly individuals, with an increased loss of magnesium from the body and a higher tendency to be taking medications that effect absorption.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
As with so many other imbalances, the first signs can often be missed as the symptoms can be attributed to various other difficulties, or just ignored and ‘put up with’. Since magnesium is active in so many of our bodily processes, a lack of the mineral can have far reaching effects.
Muscle cramps, tension and spasms can occur as a result of an underlying magnesium deficiency, along with weakness, tiredness, difficulty sleeping, headaches/migraines, constipation and nausea.
In addition, anxiety, irritability and moodiness can occur in individuals with low levels of magnesium.
In more severe cases, individuals may experience an abnormal heart rate, palpitations, high blood pressure, weakened bones (and sometimes osteoporosis) and low blood levels of Magnesium. In women, PMS and hormonal imbalances can be magnified by a deficiency in magnesium.
PMS can be alleviated by increased intake of magnesium, along with calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin E.
It is important to remember that while magnesium deficiencies can be overlooked and the symptoms thought of as some other problem, the reverse is also true and if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to consult a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
A medical professional may diagnose a possible magnesium deficiency based on your diet, lifestyle and medical conditions or medications. Watch the video above to discover why blood tests used to diagnose magnesium deficiencies are ineffective.
For individuals with severe symptoms, intravenous magnesium replacement injections may be appropriate.
For most people however, oral supplements will be sufficient. There are a number of different preparations available, with Magnesium Oxide being the most common. Magnesium Citrate is often recommended, as is Magnesium Chloride and Magnesium Asparate.
These supplements differ in their relative ‘bioavailability’ which basically refers to the efficiency of our absorption of the mineral. Magnesium Citrate and Chloride are often thought to have higher levels of bioavailability.
The exact formulation, along with the dose and concentration, will depend on your individual circumstances.
Consult a doctor or pharmacist to discover which would be most personally beneficial.
Naturally, consumption of magnesium rich foods is a great way to prevent deficiency, remembering that green vegetables will often contain the highest concentrations of magnesium while refined and processed foods may be stripped of their magnesium.
Also, fermented foods increases probiotics in our digestive system and thus better facilitates the absorption of magnesium from our food.
It’s hard to underestimate the importance of obtaining magnesium in our diets and how far-reaching its effects are on our body.
Lucky, it is relatively easy to find foods containing magnesium, as long as you are eating a variety of vegetables and whole, unrefined foods.
Magnesium supplements are also available should you be concerned about your magnesium intake and are most often included in multivitamins.
If you are experiencing any symptoms which may be related to magnesium deficiency, it is advisable to consult a medical professional, particularly if you have a concurrent medical condition or are taking any medications which may interfere with the absorption of magnesium.
Make sure to make magnesium a part of your daily diet and discover for yourself the extent of its importance for a healthy body and mind.
(Photo: samk. via flickr/CC Attribution)