Are you cranky, feel weak, have low energy or trouble with blood sugar making it harder to lose weight? Read on!
Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. 1
Necessary for energy production, structural development of bone and for the synthesis of DNA. It plays a role in transporting calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes which is critical to nerve conduction, muscle contraction and normal heart rhythm.
Energy production is quite complicated and involves dozens of chemical reactions in a complex choreography of relationship and sequence. When those chemicals don’t follow the dance steps exactly as they should, we don’t get the energy production we should. Without magnesium, the dance falls apart.
Those of you who’ve been in any of my classes, or has read my blog for any length of time know that inflammation is the enemy! Diets low in magnesium have been linked to increases in the inflammatory process.For example, one large clinical trial found that a Nordic diet strategy—a diet rich in fish, whole grains, and vegetables as sources of magnesium—led to a suppression of the important inflammatory trigger interleukin1. 2
Diets low in magnesium, a cofactor for over 100 enzymes involved in blood sugar control and glucose metabolism, are a likely contributor to Type 2 Diabetes. Glucose metabolism is a key factor in weight loss. 2
It is suggested that over half of Americans suffer from low magnesium.
These diseases can be impacted by habitually low intakes of magnesium:
- Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Osteoporosis (according to WHF, “…the existing research, together with the frequency of magnesium-deficient diets, suggests that low magnesium may be an underappreciated contributor to bone loss.”
- Migraine Headaches: According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the National Institutes of Health, all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. 3
How to get your magnesium in your diet
Since there aren’t any routine blood tests that reflect the body’s magnesium stores,3 it’s a good idea to eat a diet rich in whole plant foods including beans, greens, nuts, seeds and whole grains. That way you are unlikely to have a problem. Here is a selection of foods from World’s Healthiest Foods website. Bear in mind that many more veggies and beans are great choices. This is a list of the top 13.
- Pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup) 47.7% DV (Daily Value)
- Spinach (1 cup) 39.2% DV
- Swiss Chard (1 cup) 37.6% DV
- Soybeans (1 cup) 37% DV
- Sesame Seeds (1/4 cup) 31.6% DV
- Black Beans (1 cup) 30.1%DV
- Quinoa (3/4 cup) 29.6% DV
- Cashews (1/4 cup) 29.2% DV
- Sunflower Seeds (1/4 cup) 28.4% DV
- Navy Beans (1 cup) 24.1% DV
- Buckwheat (1 cup) 21.4% DV
- Pinto Beans (1 cup) 21.4% DV
- Brown Rice (1 cup) 21% DV
Other great sources in descending order are Barley, Lima Beans, Millet, Kidney Beans, Oats, Tofu, Almonds, Rye, Wheat, Flax Seeds, Green Peas, Tuna, Summer Squash, Scallops, Collard Greens and Beets (1 cup of beets has 9.8% DV.)
Sadly, the Standard American Diet leaves room for the likelihood of a dietary deficiency of magnesium. Even with fortification and a multivitamin, most Americans only get, on average, three quarters of the daily value (DV).
Added to the poor diet that most Americans eat, is the stress that seems to be prevalent in our society. Stress can cause excretion of excessive amounts of magnesium.
It’s actually pretty simple to achieve the DV by eating two servings per day of green leafy vegetables, beans/legumes, nuts and seeds. So, if you made a smoothie with a two cups of spinach and ate two ounces of pumpkin seeds, you’d be good to go. Have a nice salad, include spinach and top with sunflower seeds and some edamame and you’re on your way with one meal!
Need to get your stress level under control? Get up ten minutes early, or after work take a few minutes in your car (parked please), and listen to a ten-minute guided meditation. These tools will help you in so many ways. There are several options at www.youtube.com. My favorite is a Chakra Meditation that’s just under nine minutes long.
I would be remiss if I didn’t add that soaking in an Epsom Salt bath not only relieves stress, it’s also a lovely way to get a nice dose of magnesium and sulfate both. Increase magnesium levels and achieve the stress-relief to stop excessive excretion … plus you’ll soothe muscles and get softer skin. What a deal! (Add a drop or two of lavender essential oil to increase the calming effects.)
Magnesium isn’t something you want to be tracking each day. Instead, just pick some of foods high in magnesium and make a plan to include them in your diet on a regular basis. You’ll be adding not only the benefit of magnesium, but all of the other benefits that come from eating a diet rich in whole, healthy foods.
There are some factors other than a diet low in magnesium-rich foods that can cause a magnesium deficiency. These include high blood sugar, age and medications.
- National Institutes of Health (http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/)
- World’s Healthiest Foods (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=75#function)
- NCBI (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22426836)