There has been a lot of chatter on social media over the past few months about the importance of magnesium supplementation. Many suggest that symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, tense muscles, and low energy are all signs that you are deficient and should take a magnesium supplement.
Turns out, many of us may be a bit magnesium deficient. According to research, most do not consume the recommended amount of magnesium of 300 to 420 mg per day to support our body’s needs. According to a paper published in Open Heart, it is estimated that even in developed countries, between 10–30 percent of the population has some magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium is one of the many micronutrients that the body needs to stay healthy.
It is essential for helping more than 300 enzymes carry out various chemical processes in the body, including those that make protein, support strong bones, regulate blood sugar and blood pressure and maintain healthy muscles and nerves. Magnesium also acts as an electrical conductor that helps the heart beat and muscles contract.
Considering how important magnesium is to the body, if you don’t get enough, it can eventually lead to various health problems. But even though most of us may be a little magnesium deficient, that doesn’t mean you need to get a supplement to make sure you’re getting enough. In fact, with proper planning, most of us can get all the magnesium we need from the foods we eat.
Signs of Deficiency
According to the Open Heart paper, most people with magnesium deficiency go undiagnosed because blood magnesium levels don’t accurately reflect how much magnesium is actually stored in our cells—not to mention that signs of low magnesium only become apparent the longer you’re deficient. Symptoms include weakness, loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. But the symptoms you experience and their severity will depend on how low your magnesium levels are. If left unchecked, magnesium deficiency is associated with an increased risk of certain chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, migraines and Alzheimer’s disease.
Although anyone can develop a magnesium deficiency, certain groups are more at risk than others—including children and teens, the elderly, and postmenopausal women.
Conditions like celiac disease and inflammatory bowel syndrome, which make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, may make you more susceptible to magnesium deficiency—even with a healthy diet. People with type 2 diabetes and alcoholics are also more likely to have low magnesium levels.
Furthermore, a large portion of the population in developed countries is at risk of magnesium deficiency due to chronic diseases, certain prescription drugs (such as diuretics and antibiotics, which reduce magnesium levels), reduced magnesium content in plants, and diets high in processed foods. .
You Can Get Enough in Your Diet
Given the many problems that low magnesium levels can cause, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough in your diet.
The recommended amount of magnesium a person should take in each day depends on their age and health. But in general, men ages 19-51 should get between 400-420 mg per day, while women should aim for 310-320 mg.
Although fruits and vegetables now contain less magnesium than they did 50 years ago—and processing removes about 80 percent of this mineral from foods, it’s still possible to get all the magnesium you need in your diet if you plan carefully. Foods such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, green leafy vegetables (such as kale or broccoli), milk, yogurt and fortified foods are all high in magnesium. One ounce of almonds alone contains 20 percent of an adult’s daily magnesium requirement.
Although most of us will get all the magnesium we need from the foods we eat, certain groups (such as older adults) and those with certain health conditions may need to take magnesium supplements. But it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting supplements.
Although magnesium supplements are safe in the recommended dosage, it is important to only take the recommended amount. Taking too much can cause certain side effects, including diarrhea, low mood and low blood pressure. It is also important that those with kidney disease do not take it unless they have been prescribed.
Magnesium can also alter the effectiveness of some medications, including some common antibiotics, diuretics, and heart medications, along with over-the-counter antacids and laxatives. This is why it is important to consult a doctor before starting a magnesium supplement.
Magnesium supplements are not a quick fix. Although it may be necessary at times, it will not address the root cause of your deficiency, such as certain health conditions that may contribute to low levels. That’s why it’s important to focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including exercise, good sleep and a balanced diet. Not to mention that vitamins and minerals are better absorbed by the body when they come from whole foods.
Hazel Flight is the Nutrition and Health Program Leader at Edge Hill University. This article is reproduced from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.