Magnesium-rich sources, benefits, dosages, and side effects

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What is magnesium? Magnesium is a chemical element. Its symbol is Mg and the atomic number is 12. Magnesium is a shiny gray solid material. 

As seen for medical purposes, magnesium is an important mineral for the body. It plays an important role in over 300 enzymatic reactions happening in the body. It also plays a role in the functioning of the immune system, different muscles, nerves, regulating blood pressure. It also keeps our bones strong. Magnesium also helps in the production of protein and energy. It is also an essential mineral for nutrition. It also adjusts the sugar level in the body.

Many types of research are still going on magnesium, its role in preventing different diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases, and its functions. 

An adult body stores 25 grams of magnesium. 50 to 60% of this amount is stored in the muscles of the skeleton. The rest amount is found in body fluids, muscles, soft tissues. The daily dietary requirement of magnesium per day is 400-420 mg. 

Everyday greens like spinach, low fat dairy products, whole grains, nuts, cashew are high sources of magnesium. 

Health benefits of magnesium

Magnesium is one of those ‘macrominerals’ which people need to take in large amounts. At least 100 mg per day to fulfill the body’s requirement. Getting enough and fulfilling the need for magnesium can prevent the body to develop several chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, migraine, heart related diseases. 

Following are some health benefits of magnesium:

  • An adequate amount of magnesium can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, especially in females after menopause. 
  • Magnesium in the bone can also help in regulating calcium and Vitamin D levels in the bone and helps in improving bone health.
  • Magnesium is needed to form a healthy bone and also makes in dense and improves the bone crystal formation.
  • Magnesium gives an impact on the amounts of parathyroid hormone produced. This hormone actually controls the absorption of calcium in our bones.
  • Magnesium plays a vital role in glucose and insulin metabolism so it reduces the risk for type 2 diabetes. 
  • A high magnesium diet is required for the patients of diabetes because magnesium deficiency can result in worse insulin resistance. 
  • Magnesium plays a role in maintaining muscle health. 
  • Low magnesium can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Congestive heart failure can be a risk of magnesium deficiency.
  • Magnesium is used for preventing arrhythmia.
  • Intake of magnesium 100 mg per day reduces the chance of stroke. 
  • Magnesium lowers blood pressure that is due to hypertension. 
  • Magnesium also plays a role in relieving migraine headaches. Magnesium deficiency can affect the factors linked to migraines because it affects neurotransmission and also restricts blood vessel constriction.
  • The deficiency of magnesium also lowers brain activity.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms like mood swings, breast tenderness, and bloating can also be reduced by taking magnesium supplements but under doctor’s advice. It also improves PMS.
  • Magnesium plays a role in improving mood elevation, depression, and anxiety
  • Somewhere high level of anxiety is linked to a low level of magnesium. It also helps in relieving stress. 
  • Magnesium also overcomes insomnia by relaxing muscles and calms the nerves.
  • Shortness of breath (SOB), chest tightness, wheezing, coughing, and many other symptoms of asthma can be reduced and prevented by the intake of enough amount of magnesium.
  • Magnesium reduces bronchodilation that means relaxing the bronchial muscles.
  • Magnesium is involved in many digestion reactions and digestion can not be done without magnesium. It improves our digestion.
  • Low magnesium level leads to constipation. 

Sources for the intake of magnesium

Foods that contain a high level of magnesium are nuts, seeds, green vegetables, whole grains, legumes, cereals, fortified foods. Many manufactured foods also contain magnesium.

The best sources are: 

  • Almonds: they contain 80 mg of magnesium per ounce per serving.
  • Spinach: half cup of spinach contains 78 mg of magnesium per serving.
  • Roasted cashews: It contains 74 mg of magnesium per serving. 
  • Oil roasted peanuts: Per serving, peanuts contain 63 mg of magnesium which makes around one quarter of the cup.
  • Soy milk: A cup of soy milk has 61 mg of magnesium per serving.
  • Cooked black beans: Half cup of cooked black beans has 60 mg of magnesium per serving.
  • Cooked edamame beans: Half cup of edamame beans has 50 mg of magnesium per serving.
  • Peanut butter: Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 49 to 50 mg of magnesium per serving.
  • Whole wheat bread: A slice of white bread contains 46 mg of magnesium.
  • Avocado: A cup of avocados contains up to 44 mg of magnesium per serving.
  • Potato with skin: A single potato with skin contains around 43 mg of magnesium.
  • Cooked brown rice: Half cup of Brown rice after cooked contain around 42 mg of magnesium per serving.
  • Low fat yogurt: 8 ounce of yogurt contains around 42 mg of magnesium per serving.
  • Breakfast cereals: Fortified breakfast cereals contain 40 mg of magnesium per serving. 
  • Oatmeal: 1 packet of instant oatmeal contains 36 mg of magnesium per serving. 
  • Canned kidney beans:  Half cup of Kidney beans canned contains 35 mg per serving.
  • Banana: 1 medium banana has 32 gms of magnesium. 

Not just these but magnesium is present in enough amounts in:

  • Green leafy vegetables.Dried apricots
  • Peas
  • Soy products like soy flour and tofu
  • Millet
  • Milk

Daily intake of magnesium

As mentioned above that you should at least take 100 mg of magnesium per day for healthy results but that amount is an average of the total. The amounts and recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium vary with the age group and sex which is given in a report in 2019 by ODS (Office for Dietary Supplements).

1-380 mg80 mg
4-8130 mg130 mg
9-13240 mg240 mg
14-18410 mg360 mg
19-30400 mg310 mg
31-50420 mg320 mg
51+420 mg320 mg
Amount of magnesium intake according to age and gender

In pregnancy, women should increase their intake by 40 mg but first ask your doctor. And for babies under 1 year, they get their magnesium from mother’s breastfeed. 

How to take magnesium by supplements? 

Before taking any drug or supplement first talk to your physician then go towards anything. Magnesium should be used with a combination of calcium, with a ratio of 2:1 calcium to magnesium. Calcium and magnesium should be balanced by each other. The absorption of calcium and magnesium depends on each that is why it is important to take in a combination. 

Intake of magnesium without calcium can result in many adverse reactions like nausea, vomiting, weakness, tiredness, diarrhea, and irregular heart beat. 

For taking magnesium calcium supplements, you need some co-factors too which will give rapid benefits. These co-factors are:

  1. Vitamin D3
  2. Vitamin K2
  3. Boron
  4. And some other trace minerals.

These help in multiple processes like boron prevents calcium and magnesium to excrete out in urines. Silicon helps in the absorption of magnesium and calcium in the body. So before taking any supplement for magnesium, a nutritional strategy should be prepared that may contain all the booster minerals and co-factors. 

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency

Magnesium deficiency is called ‘hypomagnesemia’. Magnesium deficiency is more common in adults and in young adults. It can be because of alcohol or GI disorders, diabetes, or adverse effect of any drug. Magnesium deficiency comes up with a list of symptoms. As we know how much magnesium helps to maintain our body system, muscles of organs, nerves, neurotransmitters, biochemical reactions. So the symptoms will be visible and also worse. These are:

  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Sleepiness
  • Hyperexcitability 
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Low brain activity
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Spasms

In severe deficiency of magnesium these conditions occur in the body:

  • Hypocalcemia (low calcium in the bloodstream)
  • Hypokalemia (low potassium level in blood)

Side effects of high or abuse intake of magnesium

As told many times before that not to use any supplement or drug without your doctor’s prescription or a planned strategy. It can be dangerous or even cause death in many cases. So before taking any medication, first ask and talk about it with your physician. The side effects of taking high doses of magnesium or having only magnesium are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cramping
  • Kidney disorder
  • Urine retention
  • Low blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rate and rhythm
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of central nervous system (CNS) control
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Memory loss

Before you leave!

If you have a kidney disease, kindly do not take magnesium supplements, or if you are on laxatives then avoid magnesium supplements because it will excess from the limits of magnesium. 

First, lacking magnesium is rare but if it happens one should be careful. Excess of dosage of magnesium supplements can possibly cause death in cases too.