Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at nutrients that take their toll on our health, whether in obvious or subtle ways, if we don’t get enough of them.
Magnesium. Have you heard of this mineral? More than 70% of adults currently don’t meet the recommended daily allowance of approximately 400 mg of magnesium per day. Some would swear by its use as a sleep aid, for calming moods, reducing blood pressure, relieving muscle aches and helping with blood sugar control.
Magnesium helps us adapt to emotional and physical stress. When the body feels stress it moves into ‘fight or flight’ mode. Since we don’t like to stay in that taxing situation, the body uses magnesium to bring us back to a centered, calmer state.
Magnesium calms body processes overall. That’s why it’s not surprising how effective it can be at influencing mood.
Coffee, caffeinated teas and sodas leach magnesium from the body while calcium-rich foods and supplements compete for magnesium’s absorption. It’s also lost when we lose a lot of fluid. Think of heavy sweating exercises, illnesses that include diarrhea and postpartum fluid shifts.
How can we get magnesium? Good sources include nuts and seeds (almonds, peanuts and cashews), greens (like spinach and Swiss chard), whole grains (oatmeal) and beans or legumes (black beans, edamame) and… chocolate (dark chocolate)!
To boost intake, many people turn to supplements. Magnesium comes in various forms – magnesium citrate, magnesium chloride, magnesium glycinate, magnesium sulfate and magnesium oxide, to name a few. Since the sulfate and oxide forms have poor absorption rates, make sure you steer clear of those supplements. Magnesium citrate is well absorbed and commonly found. Magnesium glycinate is targeted for sleep and anxiety reduction.
Can you get too much? Definitely. People with heart disease, kidney disease and gastrointestinal disorders should be extra careful with supplementation. Symptoms of excess amounts of magnesium include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness and heart irregularities. To keep it safe, try to get 3 to 4 servings of foods that are rich in magnesium daily and keep supplement doses low (under 350 mg).
So, I hope you’ll seek more magnesium in your diet, use low dose supplementation when appropriate and take advantage of this “magic” mineral!
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In good health,