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Magnesium - A Balancing Act In Our Hectic Life

Thursday, September 16, 2010
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Magnesium is an essential mineral that the body works very hard to regulate.

Apart from its role in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, recent studies are also indicating its potential role in the prevention of such disorders as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Magnesium helps by:
  • Supporting a healthy immune system
  • Keeping bones strong
  • Maintaining normal muscle and nerve function
  • Keeping the heart rhythm steady
  • Helping with energy metabolism and protein synthesis.
  • Regulating blood sugar levels
  • Promoting normal blood pressure.

50% of our body's magnesium is stored in the bone, but the majority of magnesium is found in the cells of the body tissues and organs.

Foods rich in magnesium -
Chlorophyll found in most green vegetables are good sources of magnesium. Spinach the wonder food, some legumes (beans and peas), nuts and seeds, and whole, unrefined grains are also good sources of magnesium. Refined grains are generally low in magnesium because magnesium-rich germ and bran have been removed during processing, whereas whole grain bread is ideal. Tap water that is hard is a better source of magnesium, but the amount varies depending on the local water supply.

Foods rich in magnesium Content (mg) Serv size
Artichokes, (globe or french), cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 101 1 cup
Bananas,raw 32 1 banana
Beans, baked, canned, plain or vegetarian 66 1 cup
Beans, black, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt 120 1 cup
Beans, kidney, red, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt 80 1 cup
Beans, navy, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt 96 1 cup
Buckwheat flour, whole-groat 301 1 cup
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, Bengal gram), mature seeds, cooked, 79 1 cup
Cornmeal, whole-grain, yellow 155 1 cup
Cowpeas, common (blackeyes, crowder, southern), mature seeds,boiled unsalted 191 1 cup
Fish, halibut, Atlantic and Pacific, cooked, dry heat 170 1/2 fillet
Lima beans, immature seeds, frozen, baby, cooked, boiled, drained,without salt 101 1 cup
Muffins, oat bran 89 1 muffin
Nuts, brazilnuts, dried, unblanched 107 1 oz
Nuts, cashew nuts, dry roasted, with salt added 74 1 0z
Nuts, pine nuts, dried 71 1 oz
Peanuts, all types, dry-roasted, without salt 50 1 oz
Seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted, with salt added 151 1 oz
Soybeans, mature cooked, boiled, without salt 148 1 cup
Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 157 1 cup
Tomato products, canned, paste, without salt added 110 1 cup
Wheat flour, whole-grain 166 1 cup

What are the daily recommended intake levels for magnesium?
(These recommendations for magnesium are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences)

Age Male (mg/day) Female (mg/day) Pregnancy (mg/day) Lactation (mg/day)
1-3 years 80 80 N/A N/A
4-8 years 130 130 N/A N/A
9-13 years 240 240 N/A N/A
14-18 years 410 360 400 360
19-30 years 400 310 350 310
31+ years 420 320 360 320

Latest studies are showing that having enough body stores of magnesium may be protective against disorders such as cardiovascular disease and immune dysfunction, however people with kidney disease may not be able to excrete excess amounts of magnesium, they should not take magnesium supplements unless prescribed by a physician.

Magnesium deficiency:
Magnesium deficiencies are rare in healthy individuals. However, people with digestive disorders that involve malabsorption may have impaired magnesium levels. E.g. People with Crohn's disease have limited ability to absorb magnesium. These disorders can deplete the body's stores of magnesium and in extreme cases may result in magnesium deficiency. Chronic or excessive vomiting and diarrhea may also result in magnesium depletion. Excessive loss of magnesium in urine can be a side effect of some medications (certain diuretics, antibiotics, and anti-neoplastic medications used to treat cancer), and can also occur in cases of poorly-controlled diabetes and alcohol abuse

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. As magnesium deficiency worsens, numbness, tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures (sudden changes in behaviors caused by excessive electrical activity in the brain), personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms can occur

NutritionVista recommends a diet that includes plenty of fruits and dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains  and low fat dairy foods so as to provide a nutritionally balanced diet high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium, and low in sodium and fat.

Latest studies coming in from The Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure states that diets that provide plenty of magnesium are positive lifestyle modifications for individuals with hypertension and pre-hypertension.

Magnesium plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism and insulin activity, and often people with type 2 diabetes are found to have low blood levels of magnesium (hypomagnesemia)  Magnesium metabolism is very important to insulin sensitivity and blood pressure regulation, and magnesium deficiency is common in individuals with diabetes. The observed associations between magnesium metabolism, diabetes, and high blood pressure increase the likelihood that magnesium metabolism may influence cardiovascular disease

These studies suggest that consuming recommended amounts of magnesium may be beneficial to the cardiovascular system. They have also prompted interest in clinical trials to determine the effect of magnesium supplements on cardiovascular disease.

In the meanwhile a balanced and healthy diet works equally well to ensure recommended magnesium intake levels are met.



User Comments

24 July, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Yes Mrinal, as we age dietary absorption decreases and body stores slowly get depleted. Now Magnesium helps incorporate calcium into the bones effectively,balance the body's calcium supply and keeping it from being excreted. Now with deficiency of magnesium along with excess calcium ingested, will lead to deposition of calcium in the wall of our arteries instead of the bones. So we have calcification of cartilage, aortic calcification leading to CVD and osteoporosis. As we age Mg absorption decreases and our kidneys also lose their efficiency in regulation of magnesium. Magnesium deficiency can also occur as a side effects of certain medication, poorly managed Diabetes and alcoholism. A magnesium-rich diet can definitely help arthritis, prevent osteoporosis,CVD and immune dysfunction.

23 July, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Magnesium rich foods help both in the absorption and utilisation of Calcium in our body. It pays in all ways to each a balanced diet

23 July, 2010 | Mrinal | Reply

Mrinal Hi viji,
I just had a thought or two on reading your comment...
well, I actually have a couple of questions -
As you age do your bones lose the ability to store magnesium.
Can arthritis impair your ability to store magnesium?

04 June, 2010 | Supriya | Reply

Supriya Its surprising to know that magnesium has such a vital role to play in various regulatory processes in our body.

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