Feeling sluggish? Suffering from unexplainable nausea? Experiencing strange muscle spasms? You might have low magnesium levels. Extreme degrees of hypomagnesemia or magnesium deficiency is rare, however, many health officials and doctors believe the majority of people do not get enough magnesium in their diets. The good news is that with a few minor alterations to your diet, it’s an easily remedied problem. But first, let’s take a look at this important mineral and see the roles it plays in our health.
What Does Magnesium Do?
Magnesium is essential for several hundred biochemical reactions within the human body. It does everything from contributing to bone formation, nerve functions, controlling blood sugar, plays a role in heart function, and much, much more. As a matter of fact, after calcium, phosphorus, and sulfur, magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. Just like calcium, magnesium is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and stored in our bones. Because it’s so important to such a wide variety of basic functions in our bodies, making sure you’re getting enough magnesium in your diet is crucial.
Here is the recommended daily intake for magnesium:
- Women 19-30 – 310 mg
- Women 31 and over – 320 mg
- Pregnant women – 350-360 mg
- Men 19-30 – 400 mg
- Men 31 and over – 420 mg
Causes of Low Magnesium Levels
While not eating magnesium-rich foods can occasionally lead to low magnesium levels, there are a few medical conditions which can also deficiencies. Specifically, Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, and gastrointestinal conditions like Crohn’s disease and celiac, can all lead to reduced magnesium in the body. Alcohol abuse can also disrupt magnesium levels in addition to all the other potential health complications and diseases it can cause. Finally, low magnesium may be caused by either the inability to absorb it in the gut or expelling too much of the mineral in urine.
Signs & Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Symptoms of hypomagnesemia can range in severity. Some may experience a decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and cramps, while tingling, numbness, muscle spasms, seizures, and arrhythmia can show up in severely magnesium deficient individuals.
So are you magnesium deficient? If you’re experiencing the symptoms listed above, make an appointment with your doctor to get your magnesium levels tested.
How to Fix Magnesium Deficiency
Once you’ve determined whether or not you are magnesium deficient, you’ll want to take a look at your diet. Magnesium is widely available in many foods and with a few simple changes to your diet, you can ensure you’re getting adequate levels of this essential mineral. Here are some of the best magnesium-rich foods around.
- Good news if you have a sweet tooth. A one ounce serving of dark chocolate has 64 mg of magnesium. Cacao, the raw material we use to make chocolate, is similarly high in magnesium.
- Big guacamole fan? Go ahead and scoop another serving onto your plate. One avocado contains about 58 mg of magnesium.
- Tofu isn’t just high protein, it’s high in magnesium as well at approximately 53 mg per 3.5 ounce serving.
- Nuts are another great source of this nutrient. The best options are almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts.
- Bananas contain about 37 grams of magnesium in addition to the equally important mineral potassium.
- Spinach is packed with magnesium at a whopping 157 mg per one cup serving.
- Raw kale is another fantastic source, at 47 mg per 3.5 ounces.
- The gluten-free staple, superstar superfood quinoa has about 55 percent of your recommended daily amount of magnesium.
- As far as seeds go, pumpkin seeds are the best source of magnesium at 150 mg per one ounce serving.
- Pay attention sushi lovers! Seaweed is loaded with magnesium and a recent study indicated that edible seaweed may be a source of the elusive vitamin B12.
If you need further help with getting enough magnesium in your diet, reach out to your doctor. Be sure to do this before taking supplements of any kind.
One thing to note – you can get too much magnesium in your diet, which isn’t a good thing either. Hypermagnesemia or an excess of magnesium in the body cause lead to a variety of health issues. These include lethargy, vomiting and nausea, low blood pressure, respiratory issues, and heart trouble. Again, contact your doctor if you’re concerned about your magnesium levels.
Getting your recommended daily intake of magnesium isn’t hard to do. Most magnesium-rich foods are so delicious, there’s a high chance they’re already a part of your diet. So go ahead and treat yourself to a helping of decadent dark chocolate and help yourself to another helping of nuts. Your body will definitely thank you.