Magnesium: Are you getting enough?

The fourth most abundant mineral in the body and second most prevalent electrolyte, magnesium has a significant responsibility in boosting health.  Magnesium is involved in more than 300 metabolic reactions in the body.  Approximately 60% of adults in the Unites States do not consume the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for magnesium!

Having the proper amount of magnesium is so important.  Here are some of the key roles:

  • helps maintain normal nerve and muscle function
  • helps maintain heart rhythm
  • helps maintain blood pressure
  • helps maintain your immune system
  • helps maintain bone integrity
  • helps maintain blood glucose levels
  • promotes calcium absorption

There aren’t any reports stating that magnesium deficiency increases disease, but a low dietary  intake has been linked to chronic inflammatory stress conditions. This in turn, can contribute to hypertension, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, diabetes, and cancer.

Magnesium intake is not only crucial for overall health, but it also plays a role in athletic performance.  Magnesium is involved in energy storage and production, maintaining blood glucose levels, and normal muscle function.  These functions are important to athletes as low intake can jeopardize aerobic endurance.

Research suggests that most athletes do not get proper amounts of magnesium in their diets.  Only a small amount of magnesium is found in blood (about 1%), therefore it’s hard to diagnose a deficiency.  Low levels are most likely because of not eating enough magnesium containing foods or from a situation that blocks food absorption from the intestines.

Eating foods that are high in magnesium is essential for maintaining health.  It’s always a better option to get your nutrients from food instead of supplements.  Keep in mind that taking in more than necessary could cause gastrointestinal distress.  Good food sources are:

  • dry roasted almonds
  • spinach
  • chard
  • pumpkin seeds
  • black beans
  • cashews
  • avocado
  • soy milk
  • sunflower seeds
  • figs
  • dark chocolate
  • banana
  • edamame

It’s important to note that a high intake of calcium increases magnesium requirements.  These two nutrients compete for absorption into the blood stream, so it’s necessary to be aware of the calcium to magnesium ratio.  If you get more calcium compared to magnesium, this will promote a magnesium deficiency.

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As you can see, getting adequate amounts of magnesium has protective health benefits.  It’s important for energy metabolism, therefore important for exercise performance.  Anything that impacts exercise performance, I want to know about!

Although there is some evidence that magnesium supplementation may enhance athletic performance, more research is needed to determine if it can be used as a true ergogenic aid. (Current Sports Medicine Reports)

How do you get your magnesium?

Do you ever take magnesium supplements?

10 Responses to Magnesium: Are you getting enough?

  1. Debbie says:

    Yikes! Something else to worry abou! Though I do eat a lot of avocados, beans, and bananas. Is it only roasted almonds? I prefer raw.

    • Cyndi says:

      I know! So many things to consider. Sounds like you get a lot of high magnesium foods. As for the almonds, it looks like the nutritional profile is similar in raw vs roasted. But apparently roasting them makes them easier to digest. I like the raw since they don’t have added oils.

  2. Those are some of the foods I eat a lot of but I have not given much thought to magnesium. More reason to eat dark chocolate!

  3. Bill Smith says:

    Totally agree. Great post.

  4. Kimberly G says:

    I never thought about magnesium – this was such an informative post, thank you! Now I’m thinking that I am indeed not getting enough magnesium in my diet – oye!

  5. Barrie says:

    These are some of my favorite foods, but it’s always good to know how to easily fix something that you might not even think you need- good info!