Magnesium is one of the major minerals. Almost two-thirds of the population worldwide (and 68 percent of Americans) do not get enough magnesium from their diet to reach the recommended daily intake.
The essential minerals are nutrients that the human body requires in relatively large amounts (greater than 100 milligrams per day). All minerals are vital in the body. These include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chloride, and magnesium.
Some minerals help maintain the body’s fluid balance, for example sodium, chloride, and potassium. Some play a role in bone growth and health, for example calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Magnesium is an essential mineral for every cell in the body. It is especially important to muscles, thus the ability to contract and relax will depend on how much magnesium your body is getting. It is also crucial for bone mineralization, building of protein, enzyme action, nerve impulse transmission, maintenance of teeth, and the functioning of the immune system. It is also a cofactor for almost 300 different enzymes in the cells.
Magnesium helps regulate hundreds of body systems, including blood pressure, blood sugar, and muscle and nerve function. We need magnesium to help blood vessels relax, and for energy production, bone development, and transporting calcium and potassium. It also helps regulate blood glucose levels.
Just like potassium, too much magnesium can be lost in urine due to diuretic use, leading to low magnesium levels. Some of the symptoms associated with a magnesium deficiency include irregular heart beat, weakness, muscle spams, anxiety, fatigue, memory problems and loss of appetite.
Although diuretics deplete minerals (especially calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc), conventional hormone replacement therapy and birth control with progestins can also deplete magnesium, the B vitamins, and folic acid too. Also, magnesium and aluminum antacids deplete calcium and phosphate.
In addition, magnesium deficiency can also cause some clinical conditions including asthma, depression, sleep disorders, fibromyalgia, migraine, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, coronary artery disease and hypertension.
Some medications can also cause magnesium deficiency. Examples include the acid blocking drugs Ranitidine (Zantac), Famotidine (Pepcid) and Alka-Seltzer, corticosteroids such as prednisone, and antibiotics including Ciprofoxacin, Levofoxacin and Amoxicillin.
If you use any of these medications on a regular basis you should check with your physician and discuss the possibility of improving your diet and/or taking additional magnesium supplementation. It’s also a good idea to do a simple blood test to learn your magnesium level. Magnesium supplements have nine different types so make sure you choose the best form and amounts for what your body needs.
Magnesium is found naturally in plant products such as dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, squash, beans, nuts (almonds and cashews), seeds, whole grains, and chocolate, dry beans and peas, fruits (bananas, dried apricot and avocados), animal sources such as milk and meats, and whole grains, such as brown rice and millet.
Ayda Ersoy is a nutrition and fitness director at The Diet Doc Hawaii. She can be reached at DietDocHawaii.com, Ayda@DietDocHawaii.com or (808) 276-6892