Magnesium is a major mineral, meaning you need it in higher amounts than trace minerals, such as zinc or iron. The importance of this mineral in your body cannot be under looked- it’s a cofactor for more than 300 enzymatic actions in the body. Magnesium supports DNA-RNA synthesis (by making proteins for appropriate functions in the body), maintains cell growth and function, helps with energy production and storage, maintains normal nerve and muscle function, and facilitates bone growth and strength. It assists in getting both calcium and Vitamin D into the cell, making it important in preventing osteoporosis and maintaining strong bones. More recently, magnesium has been recognized in decreasing inflammation in the body by assisting certain cells called cytokines, proteins that decrease inflammation. Inflammation is greatly recognized as driving many chronic conditions and symptoms. Magnesium is important in cardiac conditions, as arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation have a strong association with magnesium deficiency.
According to World Health Organization statistics, as much as ¾ of the US adult population does not meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommended daily intake of magnesium, which is 420 mg per day.
So why are we so deficient? The first and most apparent reason is that we simply don’t eat enough plants, which are rich in this mineral. Another reason is that our soil is becoming more and more deficient in minerals like magnesium, therefore making our food more deficient. Glyphosate, or Round Up, has increased this soil depletion issue. So even if you’re eating the recommended 7-8 servings of vegetables a day (what I recommend for my patients), you STILL could be deficient! Individuals that are more at risk for this deficiency include diabetics (and pre-diabetics, or those with insulin resistance), the elderly, those with IBS, colitis, Crohn’s, or celiac disease, individuals who consume a fair to large amount of alcohol, milk, carbonated drinks and coffee, or those that use diuretics, birth control pills, PPIs (such as omeprazole, or Prilosec), or asthma medications.
Common signs of low magnesium can include constipation, muscle cramping or pain, headaches, fatigue, brain fog, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, PMS, insomnia, tinnitus, high blood pressure, numbness or tingling, TMJ, or ADHD. Other symptoms have also been reported.
Foods rich in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, spinach, swiss chard, cashews, peanuts, black beans, edamame, molasses, hazelnuts, avocado, and brown rice. Your body can best utilize magnesium from food, so eat up! Many of my patients also need to supplement with different forms of magnesium, depending on their symptoms and underlying condition. To decrease gastrointestinal side effects, I recommend taking magnesium with food.
Amber Warren, PA-C
Adult Functional Practitioner
- Bergman G, Fan T, McFetridge J, Sen S. Efficacy of vitamin D3 supplementation in preventing fractures in elderly women: a meta-analysis. Curr Med Res Opin 2010;26(5):1193-1201.
- Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010.
- Forrest K, Stuhldreher W. Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults. Nutr Res 2011;31(1):48-54.