MAGNESIUM: ESSENTIAL FOR GOOD HEALTH
After oxygen, water and basic food, magnesium may be the most important element your body needs. Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in your body and is necessary for over 350 different bodily processes, including digestion, energy production, muscle function, bone formation, creation of new cells, activation of B vitamins, relaxation of muscles, as well as assisting in the functions of the heart, kidneys, adrenals, brain and nervous system. Lack of sufficient available magnesium in the body can interfere with any or all of these processes.
Magnesium depletion can be caused by such things as mental stress, caffeine, sugar, alcohol, tobacco, drugs of all types, high perspiration, low thyroid function, diabetes, chronic pain, diuretics, and a high carbohydrate, high-sodium or high-calcium diet.
DO YOU HAVE A HEALTHY MAGNESIUM LEVEL?
Ninety to ninety-five percent of the population is below healthy magnesium levels, including many who already use magnesium. Why? First, the amount of magnesium required by the body is greater than people think. Second, most magnesium capsules and tablets are not completely absorbed by the body. Approximately 50% of our magnesium is found in our bones, 49% is found in cell tissue (including our organs) and only 1% is found in our blood. The body works hard to maintain the proper level in the blood1 and a person could have adequate levels in the blood but be deficient in the rest of the body. There is a lot of interest in magnesium deficiency and health related issues.
GREEN VEGETABLES ARE A GOOD SOURCE OF MAGNESIUM
Magnesium is found in Chlorophyll which is a green photosynthetic pigment found in most plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. chlorophyll and is found in green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. Some nuts, seeds, legumes (peas, beans, etc.), and whole, unrefined grains are also good sources of magnesium(3). Magnesium is found in the wheat germ and bran and therefore refined grains (i.e. white flour) are generally low in magnesium(1,3) as these are removed. Many people used to receive magnesium from tap water especially in water from certain wells. But through our water softeners and waters treatment techniques magnesium levels have been reduced. Water that has minerals in it like Magnesium is called “hard” and many people put in waters softeners to combat that.
Eating a wide variety of legumes, nuts, whole grains, and vegetables will help you meet your daily dietary need for magnesium. But we don’t believe it is adequate for the following reasons:
- As we age, we absorb fewer nutrients. Hydrochloric acid, in our stomachs, is the main component to help us absorb nutrients; the older we get the less of this acid we produce.
- Our foods have fewer nutrients than 50 years ago. As soils get depleted, fewer nutrients are available to our food. Fertilizers replenish the soil but generally only 3 nutrients are part of the fertilizer. Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Food is selected for yield and not for nutrient content. While our main purpose to eat is to nourish the body, the farmer’s main purpose to grow it for as low cost as possible. We perpetuate this by purchasing food based more on cost than nutrients.
Selected food sources of magnesium are listed in Table 1.Table 1: Selected Food Sources of Magnesium(1)
|Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces||90||20|
|Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce||80||20|
|Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce||75||20|
|Soybeans, mature, cooked, ½ cup||75||20|
|Spinach, frozen, cooked, ½ cup||75||20|
|Nuts, mixed, dry roasted, 1 ounce||65||15|
|Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 rectangular biscuits||55||15|
|Oatmeal, instant, fortified, prepared w/ water, 1 cup||55||15|
|Potato, baked w/ skin, 1 medium||50||15|
|Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce||50||15|
|Peanut butter, smooth, 2 Tablespoons||50||15|
|Wheat Bran, crude, 2 Tablespoons||45||10|
|Blackeyed Peas, cooked, ½ cup||45||10|
|Yogurt, plain, skim milk, 8 fluid ounces||45||10|
|Bran Flakes, ¾ cup||40||10|
|Vegetarian Baked Beans, ½ cup||40||10|
|Rice, brown, long-grained, cooked, ½ cup||40||10|
|Lentils, mature seeds, cooked, ½ cup||35||8|
|Avocado, California, ½ cup pureed||35||8|
|Kidney Beans, canned, ½ cup||35||8|
|Pinto Beans, cooked, ½ cup||35||8|
|Wheat Germ, crude, 2 Tablespoons||35||8|
|Chocolate milk, 1 cup||33||8|
|Banana, raw, 1 medium||30||8|
|Milk Chocolate candy bar, 1.5 ounce bar||28||8|
|Milk, reduced fat (2%) or fat free, 1 cup||27||8|
|Bread, whole wheat, commercially prepared, 1 slice||25||6|
|Raisins, seedless, ¼ cup packed||25||6|
|Whole Milk, 1 cup||24||6|
|Chocolate Pudding, 4 ounce ready-to-eat portion||24||6
*DV = Daily Value. DVs are reference numbers developed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers determine if a food contains a lot or a little of a specific nutrient. The DV for magnesium is 400 milligrams (mg). Most food labels do not list a food's magnesium content. The percent DV (%DV) listed on the table above indicates the percentage of the DV provided in one serving. A food providing 5% of the DV or less per serving is a low source while a food that provides 10-19% of the DV is a good source. A food that provides 20% or more of the DV is high in that nutrient. It is important to remember that foods that provide lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet. For foods not listed in this table, please refer to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Database Web site: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/cgi-bin/nut_search.pl.
CAN I HAVE TOO MUCH AND WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?
Dietary magnesium does not pose a risk. Excess magnesium is handled through the kidneys. Very large doses from antacids and laxatives have been associated with magnesium toxicity(1). Most laxatives are made with magnesium. The magnesium causes the colon to hydrate (puts extra water in the colon which makes the stools more liquid). Diarrhea abdominal cramping are the most common symptoms of too much Magnesium. We suggest, when taking a magnesium supplement like Natural Calm, that you increase the daily level until your stools are comfortably loose. At that level, you will have enough to combat depletion but not too much to harm your body or waste the supplement.
CALCIUM NEEDS MAGNESIUM
Calcium needs magnesium in order to assimilate into the body. However, when too much calcium is consumed, it will actually pull magnesium out of body parts. So calcium can actually rob the body of magnesium. Drinking pasteurized milk (which is about 8 parts calcium to 1 part magnesium), for example, will deplete the body's magnesium. Most people need more magnesium than calcium for optimum health.
ENERGY AND FATIGUE
Magnesium is vital for the maintenance of adequate energy reserves. When insufficient magnesium is available, cellular energy production is inhibited, and the eventual outcome is fatigue and weakness.
Magnesium is also essential for regulating potassium levels and the functioning of the adrenal glands-both important for maintaining high energy levels.
Without sufficient magnesium the nerve cells cannot give or receive messages and become excitable and reactive. Feeling nervous, irritable and unable to relax are signs of needing magnesium
Inability to sleep, muscle soreness, tension, and feeling uncomfortable upon rising are caused by a lack of minerals-particularly magnesium. All these conditions are greatly helped by taking magnesium.
Muscle spasms, cramps, jerks, tics, and hiccups are all caused by a lack of magnesium. Take sufficient Natural Calm and they will disappear.
PMS AND WEAKENING BONES
PMS and hormonal imbalances are greatly exaggerated and worsened by a low magnesium level. Too much calcium will worsen PMS considerably because it throws off the mineral balance. Instant relief can be obtained by drinking Natural Calm. Natural Calm really helped our daughters through their menstrual cycle by reducing the cramping and discomfort that accompanied their monthly cycle.
Magnesium is crucial to increasing bone mass, as it is magnesium which allows calcium to assimilate. One should accompany their calcium with the Natural Calm necessary for its absorption.
- Rude RK. Magnesium deficiency: A cause of heterogeneous disease in humans. J Bone Miner Res 1998;13:749-58. [PubMed abstract]
- Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. National Academy Press. Washington, DC, 1999.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2003. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 16. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page, http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp.
- Xing JH and Soffer EE. Adverse effects of laxatives. Dis Colon Rectum 2001;44:1201-9.