What is magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral that occurs in abundance in the human body. About 50% of the body's magnesium is found in the bones, with most of the other half in the tissues and organs. A small amount is found in the blood.
What is the function of magnesium?
Hundreds of the body's biochemical reactions need magnesium: maintenance of normal muscle and nerve function, healthy immune system, strong bones, steady blood sugar levels, normal blood pressure and energy metabolism.
Magnesium and food sources: the deficiency issue
Green vegetables, such as spinach are good sources of magnesium, along with unrefined grains, brown rice, beans and tap water that has not been treated and "softened." Industrialized nations, with their use of treated water, lack of emphasis on using beans and whole grains and the use of refined and processed flours and grains, lose much of the dietary benefit. Other good sources of magnesium include soybeans, almonds, cashews, oatmeal, peanut butter, avocados and yogurt.
What is the recommended dosage of magnesium?
To maintain good health, the Recommended Dietary Allowance for men ages 19-30 is 400 milligrams; for women, it is 310 mg. After age 30, the RDA increases slightly: 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women.
How and why magnesium deficiency occurs
Dietary surveys have suggested that many people do not get enough magnesium. Adequate levels are needed for daily body functions, and for storage to help protect against cardiovascular and immune diseases.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency are rare. When they are present, they include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and weakness. Advanced symptoms include numbness, tingling, muscle cramps and seizures. Magnesium deficiency can occur when certain medicines are taken (including diuretics and antibiotics). Diabetics with poorly controlled diabetes and alcoholics undergoing alcohol withdrawal can experience magnesium loss. Individuals with gastric conditions, such as Crohn's, or those who have undergone intestinal surgery, may have difficulty absorbing sufficient magnesium.
How to prevent magnesium deficiency :
Eating a wide variety of nuts, unprocessed grains, legumes and dark green, leafy vegetables are the best way to provide the necessary amount of magnesium, both for daily use and storage. Magnesium tablets can be prescribed for those with very low levels, but are not advised for individuals with kidney disease, as their ability to excrete excess magnesium is compromised.