Do you need more magnesium? Women need approximately 255-265mg daily. This means eating 1 cup of Kefir, 1 cup of spinach, 1/4 cup of almonds, 1 medium avocado and 1 square of dark chocolate! Men need a bit more than women and children need a bit less (check out exact values here). The other thing to consider is the source of your food, the processes it has been through including cooking and whether your gut is absorbing it properly. In today’s article you will find some common signs of too little or too much magnesium, some common food and alternative sources of magnesium, a bit about the role magnesium plays in our bodies and of course links to 4 yummy magnesium rich recipes!
Signs you need more magnesium
Although magnesium deficiency is rare in healthy people, it is common to show signs of slight depletion before any major problems occur. Signs of slight depletion include muscle twitches especially of the eye lid, calf cramps particularly when they occur at night, generally tight muscles or feeling of anxiety or stress for unknown reasons. When you are getting these signs it is a good idea to increase your dietary intake of magnesium via the food list provided below. You can also try a topical magnesium such as Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil or an Epsom Salts bath. If your symptoms are severe or they don’t improve you should see a nutritionist, Naturopath of a General Practioner to test your body is able to absorb it properly from your food or that your symptoms are not a sign of something else going on. There are a few groups of people who are at risk of severe magnesium depletion such as people with osteoporosis, diabetes, malabsorption conditions such as Crohn’s Disease and Coeliac’s Disease and people with chronic alcoholism. The signs and symptoms may include numbness or tingling, muscle contractions or severe cramps, seizures, low calcium or potassium on a blood test and abnormal heart rhythms.
Signs you need less magnesium
Luckily a healthy digestive tract is extremely good at allowing the right amount of magnesium to enter into the body. This means it is extremely difficult to overdose on magnesium when it is in our food or water. Topical magnesium lotions, oils or bath salts can be a great tool to get more magnesium into the body when we are showing signs of deficiency however they do pose a higher risk of overdose although I have never overdosed and don’t know anyone who has so if you follow the advice on the containers of these products I’m sure you will be safe! Some of the signs of overdose are a feeling of weakness in the muscles or overall fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, low blood pressure and irregular heart beat. These are similar symptoms to some of the winter viruses that have been going around at the moment here in Melbourne, so unless you have been taking very high doses of magnesium perhaps check with your doctor it’s not a illness as well!
Some common sources of magnesium
The top sources of magnesium in food are spinach, chard, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, almonds, yogurt or Kefir, black beans, avocado, figs and banana. You can also get magnesium from other green leafy vegetables, other nuts and legumes, whole grains and some water filters now come with mineralisers which can boost you water in magnesium. You can also get magnesium tablets from the health food shop although a word of warning, not all are made equally and often you are best to get them through a Naturopath or nutritionist so you know you are getting a good brand. Magnesium ingredients ending in -ide such as magnesium oxide are less absorbed by the stomach and are often used in laxative products! Look for magnesium types ending in -ate such as magnesium glycinate when you are taking it orally and look for magnesium chloride for topical and bath use. Magnesium is found in Epsom salts but this type of magnesium is better as a detoxifier than a muscle relaxant. Bet you didn’t realise there were so many different types of magnesium!!
Magnesium’s role in the body
Magnesium is found in higher levels inside the cell than in the blood which is why a blood test will not usually show up magnesium deficiency unless very very low. Just over half of our magnesium is found in our bones and another third in our muscles and soft tissues with the remaining helping with more than 300 biochemincal reactions in the body! Magnesium helps maintain the heart rhythm, the nervous system and brain function, helps with a muscles ability to relax after a muscle contraction has taken place, it helps make proteins and to produce energy for the body just to name a few.
4 Magnesium Rich Recipes
To help you get started, here are some magnesium rich recipes you can try!