I’m sure you’ve all heard something about magnesium and that we don’t get enough of it! But what exactly does magnesium do for us and why do we need it. Most people associate this mineral with muscle function, which is true…however it does much much more for us than support our muscular system.
WHAT IS IT??
Magnesium is an essential mineral required for human health. It is involved in a wide range of physiological functions in our bodies. It is thought that magnesium intake is in decline. This is due mostly to food processing and soil quality.
It is found naturally in dark leafy vegetables, beans, nut seeds and whole grains. These foods take their magnesium through the soil. Due to a decline in the soil mineral content even “good sources” of magnesium are lacking in quantity and quality.
Due to the reduced availability in foods, supplemental magnesium is becoming more and more popular. Supplemental magnesium can come in varying forms as well as organic and inorganic. These can also vary in the quality and bioavailability to us.
Magnesium is stored in different areas of the body, 35% is stored in the muscle tissue and 50-60% is found in the bone.
As mentioned, magnesium isn’t just a one hit wonder supporting our muscles. It plays a role in many different physiological processes in our body making it an essential component of optimal health and function. Some of the key functions of magnesium in the human body include:
- Essential for bone mineral metabolism
- Involved in energy production and synthesis
- Modulates insulin action and insulin-mediated
- Regulates vascular tone
- Involved in nervous system function, specifically nerve conduction
- Required for the synthesis of amino acids and proteins
- Maintains healthy muscle function
- Essential for cardiovascular function
- Supports against the negative health effects of stress and anxiety
Magnesium supplementation can support the following symptoms, conditions and physiological processes:
- Behavioural problems
- Bone health
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Energy production
- Menstrual complaints
- Metabolic syndrome/insulin resistance
- Muscular complaints
CAUTIONS & CONTRAINDICATIONS
Although there are many benefits to ensure an adequate level of magnesium in the diet, there are some individuals that need to be cautious when considering supplementation. Likewise, excess consumption can lead to some unwanted side effects such as diarrhoea.
The following individuals are contraindicated for magnesium supplementation and should be avoided:
- Patients with renal failure or severe renal disease
- Patients with a heart block
- Patients with myasthenia gravis
The following individuals should be monitored under the use of magnesium and take caution:
- Magnesium may affect the absorption of certain medications including digoxin, anticoagulants, antimalarial drugs, antibiotics and bisphosphonates
- Individuals also taking calcium channel blockers or anti-arrhythmic medications need to be monitored
As mentioned previously, magnesium can be found in several foods, however the quantity within these foods seems to be reduced. It can also be found in varying forms of supplementation. These supplement forms include:
- Magnesium powder: Added to a liquid (mostly water) and consumed.
- Magnesium tablets: Tablets taken orally and have similar affect to powder versions.
- Magnesium cream: Applied topically to skin over affected muscles. Magnesium is absorbed transdermally into local areas.
- Magnesium oils: Similar to cream. Also available in a spray.
Magnesium can also be found in several foods. A well-rounded healthy diet should include foods containing magnesium. There are plenty of different and versatile foods out there that include magnesium. Foods that are high in magnesium include:
- Nuts – brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds
- Seeds – pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, seasame seeds, and chia seeds
- Wholegrains – buckwheat, bulgur, wild rice, whole oats, wholemeal wheat flour
- Dark chocolate, cacao
- Dark leafy greens – kale, spinach, Swiss chard
- Fish – tuna, salmon as well as others
- Legumes – soybeans, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, split peas