Magnesium is an essential mineral for cellular health and is fundamental in more than 300 biochemical functions within the body, such as metabolism, blood sugar regulation, blood pressure control, protein synthesis, nerve function, neurotransmitter release, and the production of glutathione. With such a high demand for all these functions, it is very easy for the body to become low in magnesium, especially if you are not eating enough amount foods that are rich in magnesium.
Effects of Low Magnesium in the Body
As only 1% of the body’s magnesium is stored in the blood, with the rest located inside the bones, it can be difficult to know if one lacks this mineral. Some of the initial signs of magnesium deficiency are muscular pains, headache, and migraine. One who has magnesium deficiency may experience any of the following health challenges: anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, constipation, difficulty concentrating, eye strain, fibromyalgia, leg cramps, heart attack, high level of stress, hormonal imbalance, premenstrual syndrome, osteoporosis, tension or migraine headaches, and type 2 diabetes.
Common Causes of Magnesium Deficiency
Some of the common causes of magnesium deficiency include a diet that is high in sugar and phytic acid, consuming insufficient amount of vegetables, excessive drinking of alcohol, poor digestive absorption due to leaky gut, and taking prescription medications (antibiotics and diuretics).
Benefits of Magnesium to Overall Health
Studies prove that taking magnesium leads to several health benefits. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a diet that is high in magnesium may help lower the risk of a stroke by 8%. And in another research, it is said that increasing the intake of magnesium helps reduce the risk of a heart attack by 38%.
Magnesium was also found to help alleviate the effects of fibromyalgia. By increasing one’s intake of foods rich in magnesium, people suffering from this disorder experienced reduced pain and tenderness as well as improved immune blood markers. Recent studies also show that taking magnesium supplements help physiotherapy patients by reducing leg cramps and improving recovery from vigorous exercise.
One can also significantly lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by increasing their intake of magnesium-rich foods. This mineral plays a major role in glucose metabolism, so increasing their intake by 100 milligrams a day of magnesium may help lower the risk of diabetes by 15%.
Magnesium is also essential in bone formation. A research published in Biological Trace Element Research found that supplementing with magnesium was vital in slowing down the development of osteoporosis. It is also essential in balancing neurotransmitters in the body, and taking 300 milligrams of magnesium twice a day can lower the frequency of migraine headaches, according to a study published in Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics.
How to Increase Magnesium Levels
Generally, green leafy vegetables are rich in magnesium. Other foods that are rich in magnesium include, almonds, artichokes, avocado, banana, black beans, cashews, chard, coriander, dark chocolate, figs, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, salmon, spinach, and yogurt.
The recommended dietary allowance of magnesium for men is 400 milligrams and 310 milligrams for women. If you think that you might be deficient in magnesium, it is best to start eating foods that are grown organically as these may contain higher levels of magnesium.
Tim Ellis is the Principal Physiotherapist at Excel Physiotherapy and Wellness in Mascot, New South Wales, Australia. He specialises in treating complex necks and backs and developing highly effective exercise programs for his patients. Tim is committed to integrative health, healthy eating, exercise, and life long learning which he shares through his blogs.