Magnesium is extremely important for our overall health, as it regulates the function of more than 300 enzymes in the body, and it is vital for numerous biochemical processes which are needed for a proper metabolic function.
It is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, and research has discovered over 3,750 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins.
Magnesium is needed for:
- The formation of bones and teeth
- The formation of ATP (adenosine triphospate)
- The function of the nerves and muscles
- Relaxation of blood vessels
- Regulation of blood sugar and insulin sensitivity
Therefore, its reduced levels in the body can bring about serious issues due to the impeded cellular metabolic function, including depression, migraine, heart diseases, fibromyalgia, sudden cardiac death, and even death from all causes.
It is also crucial for the body detoxification and reduced the damage due to the exposure to toxins.
Yet, its most important role is related to the mitochondria, which are tiny bacteria-derived organelles inside the cells, and produce adenosine triphosphate or ATP, which is the energy needed by the body in order to function properly.
Scientists have shown that most heart issues are a result of mitochondrial dysfunction, so it is crucial to optimize their performance in order to ensure overall health and optimal exercise performance.
The mitochondrial researcher Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D., claims that magnesium is essential, as, without it, all other strategies will fail to optimize the mitochondrial health.
For instance, the athletic performance depends on the oxidative capacity to a great extent, that it, on the ability of the muscle cells to consume oxygen, and it is therefore dependent to the mitochondria’s ability to produce ATP by consuming oxygen inside the cell.
The oxidative capacity can be boosted in two ways, both of which require magnesium:
- By boosting the efficiency of the mitochondria to repair damage and produce ATP
- By increasing the total number of mitochondria in the cells by regular exercise
When it comes to the needed amounts of magnesium, we must state that a hundred years ago, the soil was rich in magnesium, and people received an estimated 500 milligrams (mg) of magnesium from their diet.
Nowadays, this is not the case, and we can get only 150 to 300 mg a day from our food.
Due to this, many magnesium experts claim that virtually everyone should take supplements. The recommended daily allowance is between 310 and 420 mg depending on the age and sex, and some researchers even suggest a dosage between 600 and 900 mg/day for optimal health.
According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of “The Magnesium Miracle,” the best marker for the adequate dose is the intestinal reaction, so you should start by taking 200 mg of oral magnesium citrate daily, and gradually increase it until you develop slightly loose stools.
Magnesium threonate is one of the best magnesium supplements, as it efficiently penetrates cell membranes, boosting the energy levels, and the blood-brain barrier, which boosts memory. Moreover, it is the best option if you suffer from a migraine and headaches as well.
Risk Factors, Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
The consumption of a diet rich in processed foods is the main risk factor for magnesium deficiency since magnesium resides at the center of the chlorophyll molecule.
Moreover, its levels are reduced due to stress, sleep deficiency, prescription drug use, alcohol consumption, and high blood sugar.
Yet, there is not a completely accurate lab test that can measure the magnesium status in the body, as magnesium is mostly concentrated in the bones and soft tissues, and only 1% is found in the blood. Hence, the best way to diagnose its deficiency is to track the symptoms.
The early signs of magnesium deficiency include headaches and migraines, appetite loss, muscle spasms or “Charlie horses”, weakness, vomiting, fatigue, and nausea.
These indicate that you must increase the intake of magnesium-rich foods soon in order to avoid more severe health issues.
The symptoms of chronic magnesium deficiency include seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms and coronary spasms, numbness and tingling.
Foods rich in Magnesium
Dark green leafy vegetables are the richest source of magnesium, so by juicing them, you will effectively boost magnesium levels in the body. These are the richest magnesium sources among the leafy greens:
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 Romaine lettuce, kale, broccoli, turnip greens, spinach, Swiss chard, Bok Choy, Brussel sprouts, beet greens, collard greens, and Romaine lettuce.
These are some other foods which are high in magnesium:
Seeds and nuts: Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are among the richest magnesium sources. A quarter cup provides 32 percent, 48 percent, and 28 percent of the RDA of magnesium respectively.
Moreover, one ounce of cashews provides 82 mg of magnesium, and almonds and Brazil nuts are also good sources.
-Fruits and berries- the richest sources include papaya, tomato, watermelon, raspberries, cantaloupe, and strawberries.
-Avocados- A medium avocado has 58 mg of magnesium, as well as high levels of potassium, fats, fiber, and other vitamins.
-Fatty fish- Fatty fish like wild caught Alaskan salmon and mackerel are loaded with magnesium. A half fillet (178 grams) of salmon contains 53 mg of magnesium or 13 % of the RDA.
— Raw cacao nibs and/or unsweetened cocoa powder- One ounce (28 grams) or raw cacao nibs have 64 milligrams of magnesium, as well as high amounts of iron, prebiotic fiber, and antioxidants.
-Herbs and spices- The richest magnesium sources among the spices and herbs include parsley, cloves, chives, coriander, cumin seed, mustard seeds, fennel, and basil.
Squash- A cup of winter squash contains about 27 mg of magnesium, or 7 percent of your RDA.
If you optimize magnesium levels through your diet, you have a reduced risk of lopsided nutrient ratios, as foods contain the needed co-nutrients in the proper ratios. Yet, in the case of supplements, you need to take care of the interactions of nutrients in order to prevent health issues.
In this case, you need to maintain the balance between magnesium, calcium, vitamin K2, and vitamin D, as they all function synergistically, and any imbalance would raise the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
First of all, the ideal ration between calcium and magnesium is 1:1, but since we get more calcium through the diet, make sure you take 2-3 times higher magnesium supplement dose.
According to the Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, for every 1,000 IU’s of vitamin D you take, you should get 100 micrograms (mcg) of K2.
To determine your personal vitamin D dosage, you should get tested twice annually. It will range from 40 to 60 ng/ml.
Another way to optimize magnesium levels is to enjoy an Epsom salt bath or use magnesium oil.