While many Americans are (rightly) concerned with their calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis and maintain healthy bones and teeth, a staggering 68% of us are deficient in another essential mineral.

According to recent government studies, almost 70% of us don’t consume anywhere near the recommended daily allowance of magnesium.

The consequences of chronic magnesium deficiency can be severe and result in life-threatening health issues.

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Less than optimal magnesium intake can cause:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Memory problems
  • Cramps

A severe, chronic magnesium deficiency can result in diseases like; Parkinson’s disease, dementia, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and type 2 diabetes.

This incredible mineral is found in over 300 different enzymes and play a critical role in contracting muscle fibers, activating nerves, creating energy, and is one of the building blocks of serotonin (an essential neurotransmitter).

How Much Magnesium Do I Need?

blood pressure and magnesiumThe current recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium is between 400-420 milligrams per day for adult men and 320-360 milligrams for adult women. These figures represent the intake level sufficient to prevent deficiency in roughly 97% of healthy individuals.

These figures don’t take into consideration many circumstances when your body may need more.

Under conditions of physical or emotional stress – magnesium will be released from your blood cells.

Many acid blockers (Pepcid, Nexium) and antacids (Maalox, Alka-Seltzer) will deplete your magnesium levels.

A laundry list of antibiotics will increase your need for dietary magnesium, a few are:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Azithromycin
  • Tetracycline
  • Doxycycline
  • Ciprofloxacin

Some blood pressure drugs and several diuretics will also deplete your body’s levels of magnesium – meaning the RDA may not be enough for you.

Magnesium and Bone Health

Calcium gets all the attention when it comes to bone health – but it couldn’t do its job without magnesium.

Magnesium makes it possible for the body to absorb dietary calcium and stimulates the production of a hormone that draws calcium from your blood and tissues back into the bones (calcitonin).

Magnesium also:

  • Suppress parathyroid; a hormone that breaks down bone
  • Converts vitamin D into its active form
  • Activates an enzyme needed for new bone to form
  • Regulates calcium transport in the body

Research has proved that sufficient magnesium intake is needed for healthy bones and to prevent osteoporosis.

Magnesium is Heart Healthy

magnesium is heart healthyMagnesium deficiency is implicated in many cardiac issues; from arrhythmia to atherosclerosis – magnesium is a critical component in heart health.

Low magnesium levels increase the risk of developing possibly fatal heart rhythm disorders known as cardiac arrhythmias.

There are various types of arrhythmias, but they all have something in common: They involve abnormal conduction of the electrical signals that regulate both heartbeat and heart rate. These electrical abnormalities can result in a heart rate that’s too fast, too slow or irregular.

Chronically low magnesium consumption can thicken the walls of your blood vessels, creating the conditions that encourage the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) inevitably resulting in cardiac disease and increases the risk of heart attack.

Finally, low magnesium levels can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure will lead to congestive heart failure, strokes, and other catastrophic cardiovascular events.

For Asthma Sufferers

magnesium for asthma sufferersAccording to research published in the Canadian Family Physician; because of magnesium’s bronchodilating and anti-inflammatory effects, it’s an effective adjuvant therapy for pediatric asthma patients who don’t respond to conventional asthma.

Stay Regular

As a treatment for constipation, magnesium has been a staple ingredient in the most common remedies (such as Milk of Magnesia) for decades. Magnesium is a safe, effective, and non-habit forming way to stay regular and relieve constipation. Maintaining healthy magnesium levels will also reduce this likelihood of suffering this uncomfortable gastrointestinal disorder.

5 Tasty Sources of Magnesium

While magnesium deficiency can result in a broad range of health consequences – here are five magnesium rich (and delicious) foods that you can include in your diet right away to maintain healthy levels in your body.

Almonds

This nut is a nutrient rich source of healthy fats and protein; and a delicious addition to your morning bowl of cereal, a salad or by the handful for a quick, healthy snack. You’ll get 80mg of magnesium in every ounce!

Avocados

A whole avocado will provide about 58mg of magnesium and is packed with potassium and brain healthy omega-3 fats!

Pumpkin Seeds

This Halloween treat is a fantastic source of magnesium all year round with an incredible 185 mg in every ¼ cup; a yummy way to get close to half of your RDA.

Spinach

One cup of spinach is not only rich in vitamins but will also contain 157mg of this essential mineral.

Yogurt

Yogurt is a healthy addition to any diet with loads of healthy protein, omega-3 fats, probiotics, and 30mg of magnesium in every cup.

Can I Overdose?

Magnesium overdoses are exceedingly rare – but can occur.

Your kidneys are instrumental in clearing excess magnesium from your blood stream; consequently, people with kidney disease who are also taking medications like laxatives and antacids are most at risk.

Generally, the chance of ever experiencing a magnesium overdose is very low for a healthy person. Still, in certain cases, it’s possible to consume too much. Individuals with impaired kidney function should discuss the risks of magnesium-containing medications and supplements with a doctor to help ensure they maintain safe levels.

Having said all that; doses of up to 1200 milligrams taken four times per day have been used to treat indigestion. Most of us will never consume anywhere close to this amount, even if we consume OTC magnesium supplements and eat a mineral rich diet.

Magnesium Supplements

There’s nothing easier than taking a supplement pill to ensure that you’re getting enough of the essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need – but, when it comes to magnesium there are a lot of choices. Which are the best ones?

The most useable forms of magnesium are:

  • Citrate
  • Glycinate taurate
  • Aspartate

Check the bottle and make sure that you’re getting one of these three forms of magnesium to make sure that you’re getting both your RDA and the most easily absorbed type of this health maintaining substance.

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George Citroner

GW Citroner is a Hudson Valley, NY based writer whose work has appeared in over 20 publications and on an incredible range of Health & Wellness topics.

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