Magnesium is a mineral essential for optimal health and proper function of the body. Besides being the 4th most abundant mineral in the human body, it is found out that there are more than 3,750 magnesium-binding sites on human protein in the body.
To be more specific, this nutrient is essential for the proper function of more than 300 enzymes. This indicates its utmost importance for our biochemical process, most of which are crucial for proper metabolic function. This includes:
Relaxation of blood vessels
Proper formation of bones and teeth
Regulation of blood sugar and insulin sensitivity
Muscle and nerve function
Creation of ATP (adenosine triphospate)
Deficiency of Magnesium Can Cause Serious Health Problems
The deficiency of magnesium can cause deterioration of cellular metabolic function, thus leading to serious health problems like anxiety and depression, cardiovascular disease, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, sudden cardiac death, and death from all causes.
This mineral plays an important role in the body’s detoxification process, such as synthesis of glutathione. Magnesium is also required for optimization of mitochondria, which is extremely important for cancer prevention.
The Importance of Magnesium for Mitochondrial Health
Mitochondria are organelles found within the cells. All organs need energy to function normally, and that energy, known as ATP, is mostly produced in the mitochondria.
Growing evidence suggests that most health problems stem from mitochondrial dysfunction, so getting the precursors and nutrients that the mitochondria needs is extremely important for the overall health, exercise performance, and disease prevention.
According to mitochondrial researcher Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D, magnesium plays an important role for mitochondrial health, primarily because the oxidative capacity depends on mitochondria`s ability to produce energy within the cells.
How Much Magnesium Do You Need?
A century ago, people got an estimated 500 milligrams (mg) of magnesium from their diet, courtesy of the nutrient-rich soil in which the food was grown. Today, estimates suggest we’re only getting 150 to 300 mg a day from our food.
Organic unprocessed foods tend to be your best bet, but since the magnesium content of your food depends on the richness of magnesium in the soil in which the plant was grown, even organics are no guarantee you’re getting high magnesium content.
Most soils have become severely depleted of nutrients, and for this reason, some magnesium experts believe virtually everyone needs to take supplemental magnesium.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is around 310 to 420 mg per day depending on your age and sex, although some researchers believe we may need as much as 600 to 900 mg/day for optimal health.
Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of “The Magnesium Miracle,” suggests using your intestinal reaction as a marker for your ideal dose. Start out by taking 200 mg of oral magnesium citrate per day, and gradually increase your dose until you develop slightly loose stools.
When your body has too much magnesium it flushes it out the other end, so in this way you can determine your own individual cutoff point. (Be sure to use magnesium citrate, as it’s known for having a laxative effect. It’s also better to divide your dose and take it two or three times a day instead of one large dose.)
When it comes to magnesium supplements, my personal preference is magnesium threonate. It seems to be most efficient at penetrating cell membranes, including your mitochondria, which can help boost your energy level. It also penetrates your blood-brain barrier and may help improve memory.
If you struggle with headaches or migraines, magnesium threonate may be a good alternative for that reason as well. (For headaches and migraines, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin B12 and Coenzyme Q10 as well.)
Risk Factors, Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Eating a heavily processed diet is the major risk for magnesium deficiency as magnesium resides in chlorophyll molecule. Eating leafy greens and other magnesium-dense foods once in a while means that you are not getting enough of it from your diet.
Magnesium is also lost through lack of sleep, prescription drug use (fluoride, statins, antibiotics), stress, and alcohol consumption. All of these factors affect large percentage of Americans, so the fact that 50-80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium doesn’t come as surprise.
Some of the earliest signs of magnesium deficiency include muscle spasms, migraines, headaches, fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Chronic magnesium deficiency can lead to problems like seizures, numbness, tingling, abnormal heart rhythms, coronary spasms, and personality changes.
What Are the Foods High in Magnesium?
Consuming dark-green leafy vegetables is one of the most ideal approaches to increase your magnesium levels and in addition to keep up sound levels. Squeezing these greens is a decent approach to get a large portion of them!
Here are the leafy greens that are the richest in magnesium:
Different foods that are especially high in magnesium are:
Herbs and spices (cumin, parsley, mustard seeds, fennel)
Raw cacao nibs and/or unsweetened cocoa powder
Fruits and berries
Seeds and nuts
When Supplementing, Balance Your Magnesium with Calcium, Vitamin K2 and D
Before you start taking supplements, you should understand how nutrients interact and affect each other. For example, make sure to balance between magnesium, vitamin K2, vitamin D, and calcium.
When one relies on supplements, it is important to understand how nutrients affect and interact with each other. They all work in synergy, so an imbalance can significantly increase the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and vitamin D toxicity.
The ratio between magnesium and calcium should be 1:1. Bear in mind that the need for supplemental magnesium should be 2 times greater than calcium because you can easily get more calcium from your diet. Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue claims that for every 1,000 IU’s of vitamin D you take, you need 100 micrograms (mcg) of K2
When it comes to your intake of vitamin D, it is recommended to test your vitamin D level two times a year in order to find out your personal dosage!