Can we talk about magnesium for a minute? Call me crazy, but I can get quite effusive when discussing this powerhouse macro mineral. In the pantheon of essential minerals, magnesium, in my book, is nothing short of a superstar. Of course, all the essential minerals are necessary for good health, and they all deserve their due, but hardworking magnesium is truly a miraculous substance — one that we would do well to focus on for the preservation of our own good health.
Every cell in our bodies needs magnesium to function. It is essential for healthy bones, it helps with protein synthesis and energy creation, it regulates our metabolism, it supports DNA replication, and it modulates our nervous system and mood. Magnesium is also responsible for keeping our cardiovascular system healthy, our blood sugar regulated, our immune system robust, and our muscles functioning properly. All pretty impressive, right? In fact, more than 300 biochemical reactions in the human body are powered by magnesium. Yet, various studies have shown that anywhere from 50-80 percent of Americans may be magnesium deficient.
How Can This Be?
Magnesium is everywhere. It’s found in the earth, in the sea, in plants, and in animals. It is the fourth most prevalent mineral in the human body, where it is stored in our bones and in the cells of our tissues and organs. Fifty years ago, magnesium deficiency was a relatively rare phenomenon, most likely because people ate more whole, unrefined foods back then – especially leafy green vegetables — and were less susceptible to the effects of environmental toxins, chronic stress, and systemic inflammation than we are today. Today’s widespread use of prescription medications and alcohol also contributes to magnesium depletion, as does a diet high in processed foods, sugars, and saturated fats. Regular consumption of carbonated beverages and coffee also works against us in flushing magnesium out of our systems because of their diuretic properties. In short, our modern lifestyle effectively sets us up for magnesium depletion.
How Do You Know If You’re Magnesium Deficient?
Are you feeling “wired and tired”? Do you get muscle cramps or weakness, suffer from insomnia, have nervous tics, or experience an irregular heartbeat from time to time? Do you get dizzy when you stand up too quickly, experience numbness or tingling in your hands, face, or feet, and/or do you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks? All of these may be signs of magnesium deficiency, as are high blood-sugar levels, weak bones, a poor complexion, and digestive disorders.
But take heart! Magnesium deficiency can easily be resolved, given proper attention to getting a sufficient supply of magnesium-rich foods in our daily diet, as well as possibly adding in a high-quality magnesium supplement. If you begin incorporating some of the following foods in your normal eating regimen, you should soon feel the amazing benefits of the “magnesium boost”: more energy, a sense of calm, better quality sleep, and fewer aches, pains, and digestive upset. In short, having sufficient magnesium on board brings your whole body into better balance and alignment.
Best Food Sources for Magnesium
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of magnesium is 400-420 mgs/day for men and 310-320 mgs/day for women, an amount that should be easily attainable. The following foods all serve as excellent sources of magnesium:
- Pumpkin Seeds (150 mg per oz.)
- Leafy Green Vegetables (especially Spinach, Kale, and Chard) (156 mg per cup/cooked)
- Cashews (82 mg per oz.)
- Almonds (80 mg per oz.)
- Walnuts (45 mg per oz.)
- Dark Chocolate (70-85% Cocoa) (64 mg per oz.)
- Black beans, Adzuki beans, and Kidney beans (avg. 120 mg per cup/cooked)
- Whole grains (especially Quinoa) (avg. 118 mg per cup/cooked)
- Split Peas (71 mg per cup/cooked)
- Avocados (58 mg per avocado/medium)
- Fish (especially Halibut, Mackerel, and Salmon) (avg. 53 mg per half fillet)
- Tofu (53 mg per 3.5 oz. serving)
- Flaxseeds (40 mg per tbsp.)
- Bananas (32 mg per banana/medium)
So, take some time out from your daily grind to make self-care a priority – including getting adequate doses of magnesium! Have a cup of hot cocoa, munch on some almonds, and savor the moments. Life IS better when we FEEL better, and magnesium provides us an excellent path for doing that. Don’t ignore the gift of good health that magnesium offers us. A little attention to dietary change can go a long way. Here’s to your health!