Magnesium is a mineral that’s used by every organ in your body. It helps to normalize your blood pressure, keep your bones strong, regulate the rhythm of your heart, balance blood glucose, facilitate nerve conduction and enable the contraction and relaxation of your muscles. This powerhouse mineral is also used to treat eclampsia during pregnancy, severe asthma attacks, and is used as a laxative. Magnesium is often taken as a supplement to calm anxiety and as a way to control migraine headaches.
Magnesium is needed to manufacture more than 300 different enzymes that your body needs to function. These enzymes help your body make protein, DNA, and energy at the cellular level. Magnesium also acts to balance calcium levels in your body. While your amount of calcium and magnesium should be equal, most people get too much calcium, which can increase your risk for heart attacks and stroke.
While magnesium should be one of the most abundant minerals in your body, most people don’t get enough. One key reason for this is because the soil in which our food is grown has become depleted in key minerals, including magnesium. Other factors that deplete your magnesium include sweating, too much or too little calcium, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, emotional stress and advanced age. In addition, certain medications can also cause low levels of magnesium, including diuretics, antibiotics, oral contraceptives and proton pump inhibitors (Nexium, Prilosec, etc.), which block the secretion of stomach acid, but also inhibit the absorption of many nutrients, including magnesium.
What Is The Recommended Daily Intake of Magnesium?
The recommended daily intake of magnesium for adults is about 350 to 400 mg per day, depending on your age, sex and pregnancy status. Men and pregnant women need more, and younger adults and non-pregnant women tend to need less. There’s also good news in the fact that you can get magnesium in the food you eat, especially foods that are high in fiber, such as nuts, seeds, legumes and leafy greens. Our top ten magnesium-rich foods include:
- Raw pumpkin and squash seeds
- Raw Brazil nuts
- Spinach and kale
- Pine nuts
- Black beans
- Lima beans
And one more for good measure—dark chocolate!
Now that you know how important it is, don’t be caught with your magnesium down. A few simple dietary tweaks, snacking on a handful of nuts, substituting quinoa for rice or pasta and adding a few more leafy greens can help you get more magnesium in your diet. If you have questions or need nutritional help, our holistic nutritionist, acupuncture practitioners and naturopathic physicians can help you get on the right track—just give us a call.
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.