Magnesium is extremely important mineral which affects biological function and optimal health, and it is the fourth most abundant one in your body. Studies have revealed over 3,750 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins.
Moreover, magnesium affects the function of over 300 different enzymes, which explains its crucial role for numerous biochemical processes, many are essential for a proper metabolic function, including
- Relaxation of blood vessels
- Muscle and nerve function
- Creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate)
- Regulation of blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, which is important for the prevention of type 2 diabetes
- Proper formation of bones and teeth
Magnesium deficiency might cause serious health problems
The lack of this mineral in the body might severely deteriorate the cellular metabolic function, which in turn leads to numerous health problems, like heart disease, anxiety, depression, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, sudden cardiac death, and even death from all causes.
Magnesium is important for the detoxification processes in the body and thus reduces damage from toxic exposures.
Yet, the most important role of this mineral is the optimization of the mitochondria, which affects overall health, prevents cancer, and boosts general energy and athletic performance.
Mitochondria are tiny bacteria-derived organelles residing inside the cells. They produce adenosine triphosphate or ATP, which provides the needed energy for the body organs.
Numerous studies have shown that mitochondrial dysfunction causes most health problems, so the optimal function of the mitochondria is vital for disease prevention, health, and exercise performance.
The mitochondrial researcher Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D. claims that if the body lacks magnesium, other strategies aimed at improving mitochondrial health would not give results.
For instance, athletic performance depends on the oxidative capacity, which in turn relies on the ability of mitochondria to produce ATP by consuming oxygen inside the cell.
There are two ways to increase the oxidative capacity, and magnesium is needed in both cases:
- Increasing the efficiency of the mitochondria to repair damage and produce ATP, where magnesium is needed as a co-factor.
- Increasing the total number of mitochondria in the cells by engaging in exercise. Yet, magnesium is again needed for the formation of new mitochondria.
How Much Magnesium is enough?
About a hundred years ago, people consumed about 500 milligrams (mg) of magnesium daily from their diet, as the soil was rich in nutrients, but these days, we are getting 150 to 300 mg daily from food.
Organic unprocessed foods are the best choice, but the issue is that the soil is deficient in nutrients, including magnesium, so we cannot be sure that we are getting enough of it. Some experts, therefore, suggest that we all need to take supplemental magnesium.
Depending on the age and sex, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is around 310 to 420 mg per day, but some researchers say that 600 to 900 mg/day is needed for optimal health.
According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of “The Magnesium Miracle,” the intestinal reaction can be used as a marker for the ideal dose. You should start with 200 mg of oral magnesium citrate daily, and gradually increase the dose until you develop slightly loose stools.
The best magnesium supplement is believed to be magnesium threonate, as it easily enters cell membranes, including the mitochondria, as well as the blood-brain barrier, and thus energizes the body, soothes headaches, and improved memory.
Magnesium Deficiency ( factors, signs, and symptoms)
The main risk factor for the deficiency of magnesium is a diet high in processed foods. This is due to the fact that magnesium resides at the center of the chlorophyll molecule, so the low intake of leafy greens and other magnesium-rich whole foods means that your body lacks it.
Moreover, the levels of magnesium are also reduced due to lack of sleep, stress, alcohol consumption, high insulin levels, and prescription drug use.
Sadly, but the magnesium status cannot be truly estimated by lab tests, as it is mostly concentrated in the soft tissues and bones. Hence, the best way to detect its deficiency is to evaluate and track the symptoms.
The most common early signs of magnesium deficiency include appetite loss, nausea, weakness, fatigue, “Charlie horses”, headaches/migraines, and vomiting.
The more chronic cases are manifested by personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms, numbness, and tingling, and seizures.
Foods Rich in Magnesium
To optimize the levels of magnesium in the body, you should increase the intake of dark-green leafy vegetables.
Again, if you eat organic whole foods and show no signs of deficiency, you’re probably getting sufficient amounts from your food. If you eat well but still exhibit deficiency signs, you may want to consider taking a supplement as well.
When it comes to leafy greens, those highest in magnesium include, and these are the ones which are richest in this mineral: spinach, beet greens, collard greens, Swiss chard, turnip greens, broccoli, kale, Romaine lettuce, Brussel sprouts, and Bok Choy.
Other foods that are particularly rich in magnesium include the following:
-Raw cacao nibs and/or unsweetened cocoa powder ( one ounce (28 grams) or raw cacao nibs has 64 milligrams of magnesium, as well as antioxidants, iron, and prebiotic fiber, which is beneficial for the bacteria in your gut.
-- fruits and berries, like papaya, raspberries, tomato, cantaloupe, strawberries, and watermelon.
-- Avocados (A medium avocado has 58 mg of magnesium, and lots of vitamins, healthy fats and fiber.)
-- seeds and nuts (the richest ones include pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds, with one-quarter cup providing an estimated 48 percent, 32 percent and 28 percent of the RDA of magnesium.)
-- Fatty fish(A half fillet (178 grams) of salmon has 53 mg of magnesium, which is 13 percent of the RDA.)
-- Herbs and spices (The most magnesium-rich varieties include parsley, fennel, coriander, chives, cumin seed, cloves, mustard seeds, fennel, and basil.
-- squash (A cup of winter squash has about 27 mg of magnesium, which is 7 percent of the RDA.
Important things you need to know when supplementing
When choosing to supplement your needs of nutrients, you should be aware of the need to know the ways they interact with each other and influence the others.
When It comes to magnesium, you need to know that it has to be in balance with calcium, vitamin K2, and vitamin D, in order to avoid side effects like vitamin D toxicity, and an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks.
The best way to optimize Vitamin D levels is sun exposure, but if you opt for a supplement, the “ideal dosage” is the one that will put you into the therapeutic range of 40 to 60 ng/ml. We advise you to test the vitamin D levels once or twice a year in order to find your ideal range.
The optimal ratios between vitamin D and vitamin K2 are still not determined, but Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue advises about 100 micrograms (mcg) of K2, and perhaps as much as 150-200 mcg for every 1,000 IU’s of vitamin D.
When it comes to the ratio between magnesium and calcium, the ideal one is 1:1, but if you get more calcium from the food, you should increase the supplemental magnesium for 2 to 3 times.
Note that your needs for magnesium might elevate in the case of lack of sleep, stress, diabetes, poor kidney function, advancing age, alcohol consumption, insulin resistance, prescription drug use, an unbalanced gut microbiome, a diet rich in processed foods, and more.
Another way to boost magnesium levels is to take regular Epsom salt baths or foot baths, as it is a magnesium sulfate that is easily absorbed through the skin.
Remember that many foods are deficient in this important mineral as a result of them being grown in mineral-depleted soils, due to the use of fertilizers like glyphosate.
Hence, we suggest considering a magnesium supplement, and juice the vegetables, as you will consume more of them thus.