Magnesium, the 4th most abundant mineral in the body, is part of over 300 reactions. Yup, you read that correctly…300!
Needless to say, this mineral is incredibly important for the proper function of our bodies, and is vital to our overall wellness. Magnesium helps maintain normal blood pressure, heart rhythm, blood sugars, and a healthy immune system. When used therapeutically, magnesium can aid in muscle recovery, and even soothe the anxious mind and body.
Unfortunately, most Americans may not get enough magnesium.
Is the American food supply devoid of magnesium?
Foods that are rich in magnesium include leafy vegetables, beans and nuts, and whole grains.
The magnesium in these foods comes from the soil in which they are grown. And unfortunately, magnesium levels in soils continue to decline, which translates into less nutritious foods (1). Even more, food processing and refining techniques can strip foods of important minerals, including magnesium. So, as we continue to choose processed options over fresh, whole foods, we decrease our magnesium intake even more.
Stress and Magnesium
Soil issues and poor food choices aside, magnesium levels in the body are also affected by busy lifestyles and accompanying stress. When we are stressed, our bodies use magnesium at record speed, which can lead to a deficiency of this mineral over time and a resulting inflammatory response. If we fail to replenish our magnesium stores, we may face a number of health issues related to inflammation, as well as heightened anxiety. No wonder magnesium is also known as the original “chill pill!”
In fact, magnesium deficiency may contribute to chronic inflammation that leads to hardening of arteries, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, and cancer (2).
So, how much magnesium do we need? And where can we get it?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA), or suggested average daily intake, is 320 mg for adult females, and 420 mg for adult males. To achieve this, try eating a variety of magnesium-rich foods every day.
Foods with magnesium include:
- Dark chocolate (1 square, 95 mg)- yay!
- Pumpkin seeds (1/8 cup, 92 mg)
- Halibut (3 ounces, 90 mg)
- Almonds (1 ounce/22 almonds, 80 mg)
- Cashews (1 ounce, 75 mg)
- Soybeans (1/2 cup, 75 mg)
- Spinach (1/2 cup, 75 mg)
- Avocado (1 medium 58 mg)
- Oatmeal (1 cup, 55 mg)
- Potato (1 medium w/skin, 50 mg)
- Peanut butter (2 tbsp, 50 mg)
- Blackeyed peas (1/2 cup, 45 mg)
- Yogurt (8 oz, 45 mg)
- Banana (1 medium, 32 mg)
- Garlic (100g, 24 mg)
However, adequate intake may not be enough. Limiting processed and refined foods, and reducing stress is equally important in nourishing your body with enough magnesium.
What about supplements?
In the case of a deficiency, magnesium supplements may be helpful on an individualized basis, and should be discussed with your healthcare provider or dietitian.
Additional non-food sources of magnesium include epsom salts or lotions, pictured here.
Adverse effects of supplements may include loose bowels or diarrhea, so be sure to get the advice of a professional if you are worried about your magnesium intake.
If you are interested in incorporating more fresh, whole foods into your diet, as well as more magnesium-rich foods, bookmark this page for easy reference! And check out my homemade epsom salt bath recipe :)…
Have a happy and healthy week! -Lizzie