(Health Secrets) After oxygen, water, and basic food, magnesium may be one of the most important elements needed by our bodies. It is vital for heart health, bone health, mental function and overall body maintenance – yet 80% or more of us are deficient in this vital mineral.
Magnesium is more important than calcium, potassium or sodium, and it regulates all three of them. This vital mineral plays an important role in over 1300 different biochemical reactions. Contrary to popular misconceptions, it is magnesium that is actually most important in building strong bones and preventing bone loss. Recent research has revealed that lack of this mineral may put your heart and your overall health at significant risk. This research also found that a deficiency may be linked to cognitive dysfunction and mental decline.
Called the The Forgotten Mineral and the 5-Cent Miracle Tablet by medical researchers, magnesium is a muscle relaxant, and low intake is associated with muscle spasms, tremors and convulsions. It protects against heart disease and heart attacks, high blood pressure and stroke, type II diabetes and much, much more.
Many researchers have reported that adequate amounts of this mineral in the population at large would greatly diminish the incidence of kidney stones (1 in 11 Americans), calcified mitral heart valve (1 in 12 Americans), premenstrual tension, constipation, miscarriages, stillbirths, strokes, diabetes, thyroid failure, asthma, chronic eyelid twitch (blepharospasm), brittle bones, chronic migraines, muscle spasms and anxiety reactions.
An increasing number of medical scientists also believe that additional magnesium and other minerals missing from today’s diet may prevent cognitive disorders such as ADD, ADHD and bipolar, and help prevent Alzheimer’s and mental decline as we age. Sufficient intake by the American population would likely reduce health care costs by billions of dollars.
In addition to the problems listed above, deficiency of the master mineral has been associated with:
- Insomnia and other sleep disorders
- Fatigue and low energy
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Other heart disorders
- Kidney stones
- Accelerated aging
- Anxiety and irritability
Our depleted soils, processed foods and fast food diet lifestyles have led to a steady increase in mineral deficiencies. Nowhere is this more true than with magnesium. The U.S. minimum RDA is about 320 mg per day for women and more than 400 mg per day for men, while optimum daily amounts are closer to 500 to 700 mg per day. Yet studies show that after over a century of steadily decreasing intake, today more than 8 out of 10 people do not take enough daily consumption for even the minimum daily amounts recommended.
In 1900, magnesium consumption was 475-500 mg per day. By 1990 consumption had dropped to 175-225 mg per day, and it has continued to drop since then.
Following is a list of some of richest sources of magnesium, including standard serving sizes and calories:
- Pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted – 1 oz contains 151 mg and 148 calories
- Brazil nuts – 1 oz contains 107 mg and 186 calories
- Bran ready-to-eat cereal (100%), – ~1 oz contains 103 mg and 74 calories
- Halibut, cooked – 3 oz contains 151 mg and 148 calories
- Quinoa, dry – 1/4 cup contains 89 mg and 159 calories
- Spinach, canned – 1/2 cup contains 81 mg and 25 calories
- Almonds – 1 oz contains 78 mg and 164 calories
- Spinach, cooked from fresh – 1/2 cup contains 78 mg and 20 calories
- Buckwheat flour – 1/4 cup contains 75 mg and 101 calories
- Pine nuts, dried – 1 oz contains 71 mg and 191 calories
- Mixed nuts, oil roasted, with peanuts – 1 oz contains 67 mg and 175 calories
- White beans, canned – 1/2 cup contains 67 mg and 154 calories
- Pollock, walleye, cooked – 3 oz contains 62 mg and 96 calories
- Black beans, cooked – 1/2 cup contains 60 mg and 114 calories
- Bulgur, dry – 1/4 cup contains 57 mg and 120 calories
- Oat bran, raw – 1/4 cup contains 55 mg and 58 calories
The list of dietary magnesium sources shows that although it might be possible for a person to obtain optimum, or at least minimum, amounts of magnesium from the diet, doing so on a daily basis would take very careful planning. When processed food is part of the diet, it becomes even more unlikely for the general public to consume enough of the mineral through dietary sources alone on a daily basis.
Only supplementation is likely to make up for such a widespread magnesium deficiency for most people. Since the same problems with soil depletion and diet cause deficiencies in many other vital minerals, it would be a good idea to supplement with a wide range of other minerals. The very best mineral supplements are those derived from whole food and plant sources because they are more readily absorbed than mined rock minerals. Taking a tablespoon of molasses daily is an excellent choice for supplementing magnesium as well as many other minerals.
If you want to take a pill instead, it is believed that the best forms of supplemental magnesium are the ones chelated to an amino acid (magnesium glycinate, magnesium taurate) or a krebs cycle intermediate (magnesium malate, magnesium citrate, magnesium fumarate). The only side effect of too much magnesium is loose stool. Reducing the dosage or dividing daily doses into smaller amounts resolves the problem.
Blood tests for magnesium are notoriously inaccurate since only about 1 percent of the total body magnesium pool exists outside of living cells. Thus, blood serum levels are inaccurate and your doctor can’t easily tell by a blood test if your magnesium levels are low.
For optimum health, magnesium and calcium intake needs to be at about a 1 to 2 ratio. So, if you supplement with 500 mg of magnesium, you should supplement with 1000 mg of calcium (or less if you get plenty of dietary calcium and little dietary magnesium).