Magnesium is a mineral that many people overlook without really considering how much they are consuming or where it is coming from in their diet. However, it is essential for vital processes such as converting the food we eat into energy and ensuring that the parathyroid glands, which produce hormones important for bone health, function normally.
Women between the ages of 19 and 64 need 270 mg of magnesium per day, men 300 mg, and most people get enough of it if they eat a varied and balanced diet. However, if you experience symptoms such as nausea, weakness, tiredness or an abnormal heart rhythm (irregular heartbeat), you may have abnormal levels of magnesium in your blood.
A test can be done by your doctor to see if your magnesium levels are normal, and although magnesium supplements are available from pharmacies and health food stores, Josie Porter, Doctify-verified dietitian at The Dietitian Method, says you can make sure you’re Get enough magnesium by including certain foods in your diet.
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Additionally, taking high doses of magnesium (more than 400mg) can cause side effects such as diarrhea and abdominal cramps, so the NHS recommends that you don’t take too much extra magnesium to avoid damage.
“Magnesium, an abundant mineral in the body, is naturally present in many foods and can be added to some foods, such as grains,” explains nutritionist Josie.
“Magnesium supports various functions in the body such as energy production, protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood sugar and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium deficiency is not all that common, but some symptoms can include nausea, fatigue, muscle contractions and tingling.”
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Often times, people don’t realize they are deficient in magnesium because initially they don’t notice any symptoms at all. Many of the initial symptoms can indicate a variety of other health issues, so it’s important to get evaluated by your doctor to find out the exact cause of your symptoms.
Fortunately, it’s easy to ensure you’re getting enough magnesium by eating a balanced, healthy diet. Josie explains that magnesium levels in refined grains like white rice and white bread can be lower due to processing, so you should aim to eat grains like brown rice and oats that are less processed.
“Other sources naturally rich in magnesium include spinach, nuts and seeds,” she added.
“Try to combine any magnesium-rich foods with prebiotics, as they help with magnesium absorption. Some prebiotic sources are garlic, onions, wheat, leeks, legumes, bananas and dates.”
Some say magnesium can also have positive benefits for your body even if you don’t consume it. For example, Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) is anecdotally beneficial in reducing stress and muscle pain when used in the bath. In water, the magnesium sulfate breaks down and the minerals are believed to then pass through your skin into your body to relieve common ailments.
There aren’t many studies to back up this anecdotal evidence, but many people say that Epsom salt baths help them with sore muscles, insomnia, tired feet, and even migraines.