Magnesium: 3 Reasons You Need It & How to Prevent Deficiency
Magnesium is a mineral that is not talked about enough, even though it’s crucial for almost every function of your body.
Magnesium helps support your heart health, bone density and regulates your nervous system and calcium levels.
Also, magnesium is vital for muscle and nerve function and energy production.
Low levels of magnesium can increase your risk of serious health problems which are known to include; high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis and even type 2 diabetes.
The good news is, it's not too difficult to get enough magnesium in your diet when you know which foods to eat.
Here, we highlight the best known health benefits of magnesium and share a list of foods you should consider including in your diet regularly to help prevent magnesium deficiency.
1. Improves Heart Health
Magnesium is incredibly important when it comes to a healthy heart.
Magnesium helps keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check by regulating your heart rhythm, which can greatly reduce your risk of suffering from heart disease and heart attacks.
When there is enough magnesium around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax. This lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
Studies show that not only is a deficiency of magnesium associated with heart attacks, but a lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injuries to the heart.
When you get enough magnesium in your diet, you support the health of your heart and blood which is so important for avoiding chronic lifestyle diseases.
Learn more in our blog Are You Really Vitamin or Mineral Deficient?
2. Regulates Calcium
Magnesium stimulates a hormone known as, calcitonin, which helps to preserve bone structure. It does this by drawing calcium from the blood and soft tissues back into the bones and this helps to prevent osteoporosis and forms of arthritis and kidney stones.
Essentially, magnesium helps regulate nerve and muscle tone by balancing the action of calcium. In many nerve cells, magnesium serves as nature’s own calcium channel blocker, preventing calcium from rushing into the nerve cell and activating the nerve.
By regulating calcium’s entry, magnesium keeps the nerves - and the blood vessels and muscles they innervate - relaxed.
This is why magnesium is known to be a very effective mineral for alleviating muscle cramps, tension, soreness and fatigue.
3. Improves Bone Density
Magnesium plays an important role in the formation of bones, which is especially important as we get older.
Bones naturally become more brittle and prone to breaking with age, so getting enough magnesium in the daily diet is important for improving bone density to help avoid this kind of degeneration.
Magnesium, as well as calcium, is necessary for healthy bones.
About two-thirds of the magnesium in the human body is found in our bones. Some helps give bones their physical structure, while the rest is found on the surface of the bone where it is stored for the body to draw upon as needed.
And it’s not just important for women, but for older men too.
Musculoskeletal conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis are often thought to be of most concern for postmenopausal women, however they also are a potential problem for older me as well. For example, almost 30% of hip fractures occur in men, and 1 in 8 men over age 50 will experience some type of osteoporotic fracture over time.
In fact, a study of almost 400 men ranging in age from 45-92, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found a clear correlation between low dietary intake of magnesium and low blood levels of the trace mineral, and osteoporosis at the hip and spine.
So the message is clear - no matter your age or gender, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough magnesium in your diet every single day.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
So now that you know how important magnesium is for healthy body function, particularly as you age, what are the signs that you're not getting enough?
Since the symptoms of magnesium deficiency are very broad, it can be difficult to diagnose accurately clinically.
Everything from bone formation, to heart rhythm regulation, muscle relaxation, nerve function and more, is dependent on magnesium for healthy function.
Additionally, magnesium deficiency can cause a wide variety of everyday discomforts and ailments, from confusion to insomnia, irritability, constipation, dizziness and anxiety.
All of this means that as a preventative measure, it is important to be extra conscious of magnesium-rich foods and to ensure you're getting enough of them into your diet.
Rich Food Sources of Magnesium
It's great to know that magnesium is an abundant naturally occurring mineral in a wide variety of whole food sources.
However, the problem is that most people simply do not eat enough of these high quality foods. Instead, diets these days are full of processed food that have been stripped of magnesium, starving the body of this vital mineral.
Many people resort to supplements, thinking that they are an easy solution.
But you cannot compare the nutrient quality that are obtained from seasonal fresh produce, versus synthetic, lab-produced versions wrapped in a plastic capsule, that can irritate the gut and add toxicity to the body.
Always remember, that your body and cells can identify with the 'electric frequency' of nutrients that are only obtained by eating living whole food.
The following are some of the most magnesium-rich whole food sources:
- Kiwi Fruit
- Seeds e.g. pumpkin, flax and chia seeds
- Nuts e.g. brazil nuts, peanuts and almonds
- Organic Tofu
- Legumes e.g. lentils, beans, chickpeas and soy beans
- Whole grains e.g. Wheat, oats, quinoa, barley and buckwheat.
Include a variety of these foods into your diet on a weekly basis and you'll not only ensure that you're getting enough magnesium, but also healthy dietary fibres and a variety of other essential nutrients into your body.
Absorbing Magnesium Through The Skin
Magnesium is not only a dietary nutrient but also a mineral that can be easily absorbed through the skin.
A hot bath soak once or twice a week is a wonderful way to top up your magnesium levels and to release tension in the body.
Learn more in our blog, The Health Benefits of Bath Salts & How to Make Your Own.
The Main Takeaway
By now you will realise how important magnesium is for your body to function optimally and to help you avoid a range of chronic degenerative health problems and everyday ailments.
As always, it's best to get your fix of this crucial mineral from whole food sources rather than synthetic supplement versions as much as you can.
Add a variety of the foods listed for you here, sourced locally and in season, and you'll go a long way to ensuring that you avoid magnesium deficiencies and that your body continues to thrive.Tolman Self Care.