Magnesium is an essential nutrient that most North American’s are not getting enough of.
Well over 50% of us are only getting about 45-50% of the recommended amount. At the turn of the twentieth century, it was estimated that the average daily intake was about 500mg compared to about 225-250mg today.
It’s no wonder that diseases, or health states, where magnesium plays a vital role, are changing…for the worse. A lack of magnesium is involved in increases of heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, migraines, diabetes and stroke.
Here are 10 evidenced based facts about magnesium
1] Heart Arrhythmia: Not getting enough magnesium predisposes people to heart arrhythmia or irregular, and abnormally,y fast heart beats or atrial fibrillation. In a British study, taking magnesium daily for six weeks reduced arrhythmia between 25% and 50%. In another study, very low intakes of magnesium resulted in irregular heartbeats within 3 months in a group of women that was corrected with magnesium supplementation.
2] ‘Blocked’ arteries or occluded arteries: According to the Center for Disease Control, higher intakes of magnesium cuts your odds or dying from ischemic heart disease by 33%. Lower intakes of magnesium are associated with lower levels of HDL, the lipoprotein that protects against heart disease.
3] Blood pressure: Higher intakes of magnesium are well understood to lower blood pressure. The more magnesium you have in your cells, including the cells that make up your blood vessels, the less calcium, resulting in lower blood pressure and the more elastic, or flexible, they are. Magnesium is nature’s calcium channel blocker.
4] Diabetes: Again, a well known fact that lower intakes of magnesium increases your risk for diabetes. Magnesium is needed for the production and efficient use of insulin. It’s estimated that lower intakes of magnesium will increase your risk for diabetes by 33%.
Magnesium helps to improve insulin sensitivity and because more magnesium is lost in the urine in those with diabetes, magnesium supplementation is likely needed to top up whatever intake there is from diet in those with both insulin resistance/pre-diabetes/metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
5] Bones and teeth: magnesium is as vital as calcium when it comes to strong bones and teeth, but calcium has gotten all the press [thanks to milk and dairy marketing boards]. Magnesium supplement studies have resulted in increased bone mass and magnesium intake and status has to be considered as part of a comprehensive bone health strategy. According to Tuft’s researchers, high magnesium intake predicted higher bone mass and less bone loss in older people.
6] Migraines: This was new to me. Half of migraine suffers have a low magnesium intake and increasing magnesium has been shown to reduce both the duration, intensity, and frequency of migraines. Headache frequency dropped by 42% in a study where subjects took 600mg [in divided doses] of magnesium daily for one month.
7] Better sleep quality: Magnesium is critical for electrical activity in the brain. Lower intakes of magnesium can cause less sound sleep. In sleep studies, participants have been shown to have increased episodes of agitated sleep and frequent awakenings when food records indicate they habitually consume low amounts of magnesium.
8] Better pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia, or very high blood pressure during late pregnancy, is typically treated with a low sodium diet alone, but coupled with higher intakes of potassium, and magnesium, can result in significant improvements. A British study summarizing the results of 10,000 women in 33 countries found that magnesium supplementation reduced the incidence of pre-eclampsia by 50%.
9] Pain relief: Due to its ability to relax muscles, magnesium can help to reduce the risk for muscle cramps. Intakes of up to 400 mg per day from supplements can help to bring relief. There is evidence that extra magnesium can help to improve symptoms of myalgia, fibromyalgia, chronic muscular lower back pain, restless leg syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
10] Requirements: For basic nutritional needs and to prevent deficiencies, the RDA, or Recommended Dietary Allowance, is 320 mg a day for women [from all sources] and 420 mg for men. Because foods get their magnesium from soil, the content of magnesium in food is declining as soil levels continue to drop due to over farming.
Tables that list the magnesium content of foods are outdated and overstate the amounts. Still, magnesium rich foods include whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, halibut, wheat bran, pulses [chickpeas, lentils, dried peas and beans], dark chocolate and oats. Consider taking a magnesium supplement; if you have kidney disease, you must not take magnesium supplements.