Although it is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when we think about our health, magnesium is one of the most important health promoting minerals. The average human body only contains about one ounce of magnesium, half of which is stored in the bones, yet this tiny amount is vital to hundreds of bodily functions. One of the most versatile minerals, magnesium plays a big part in nerve function, energy production, bone and tooth formation as well as muscle relaxation.
Because society today has become so dependent on processed foods that contain little or no magnesium, many of us do not have adequate stores of this valuable mineral. In order to maintain good health, it is important that we add magnesium to our diets, because even a moderate deficiency can increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Severe deficiencies can result in irritability, nervousness, fatigue, muscle spasms and irregular heartbeat.
Because magnesium relaxes the muscles it is useful for athletes as well as those who suffer from fibromyalgia. It is also believed to calm painful menstrual cramps and relieve PMS symptoms. In addition, magnesium expands the airways and is often used in the treatment of asthma and bronchitis. Magnesium also plays a big part in the secretion and function of insulin and controls the body`s blood sugar levels.
Benefits for Heart
- Magnesium is required for maintaining a healthy heart. It helps in regularizing heartbeats, besides helping to prevent clotting of blood.
- Blood sugar levels are regulated by magnesium, which is extremely important for maintaining proper blood pressure levels.
- It can not only prevent heart attacks, but also help in recovering from severe heart diseases.
- It is also important in the treatment of asthma, as it regularizes breathing.
Benefits for Bones and Muscles
- Magnesium helps in formation of bones and teeth, by improving absorption of calcium in the body.
- People suffering from calcium deficiency can benefit by adequate intake of magnesium.
- It is also beneficial in treating muscle contractions. It aids in relaxation of muscles besides helping in their proper functioning.
- Magnesium facilitates the delivery of oxygen to the muscles, during physical activities, hence it is also important for athletes and sports persons.
- It is also helpful for backache as magnesium relieves muscle tension and stress.
Other Benefits of Magnesium
- Diabetes: Magnesium is necessary for all diabetic patients. It affects the release of insulin, which help in controlling the blood glucose levels.
- Depression: It helps to regulate blood pressure, which can help in avoiding anger, panic, stress and anxiety that are the major symptoms of depression.
- Absorption: Apart from calcium, magnesium helps in absorption of other vital nutrients like potassium, sodium and phosphorus, which are essential for the body.
- Migraine: It is known to reduce migraine attacks and is also beneficial in avoiding insomnia.
- Pregnancy: It is extremely important for pregnant women, as it helps maintain blood pressure levels. It is also known to decrease pain during pregnancy and helps in smooth and safe delivery.
- Protein Synthesis: Magnesium helps in protein synthesis by activating various enzymes in the body. It also helps in maintaining metabolism rate of the body.
- Antioxidant: It is a good antioxidant, which protect the cell membranes from cancer-causing radicals.
- Anti-aging: It can help against premature aging by nourishing the cells of the body.
Deficiency in Magnesium
Deficiency in magnesium can cause cardiovascular problems, diabetes and hypertension. Malfunctioning of nerves and muscles is often linked to magnesium deficiency. Studies have revealed that approximately half the US population is deficient in magnesium due to unhealthy eating habits.
Foods Rich in Magnesium
- Green vegetables like spinach, potato, artichokes and avocados contain a high amount of magnesium. Swiss chard, collard greens and mustard greens are green leafy vegetables that are an excellent source of magnesium.
- Peas, nuts (especially almonds), are a rich source of magnesium. Sesame and sunflower seeds contain high levels of magnesium. People deficient in magnesium are often advised to eat brazil nuts and cashew nuts.
- Beans that include kidney beans, baked beans, lima beans, navy beans and pinto beans are also high in magnesium.
- Fish like the halibut and broiled tuna also come in the list of foods rich in magnesium.
- Fruits like Avocado, Banana, Blackberries ,Blackcurrants, Breadfruit, Cantaloupe, Cherimoya ,Dates, Guava, Kiwi, Loganberries, Mulberries, Passion Fruit, Pomegranate, Pineapple, Prickly Pear, Prunes, Raisins, Raspberries, Strawberries, Watermelon and even citrus and prune juices are well-known food sources of magnesium.
- Some of the most healthiest recipes contain herbs like cloves, black pepper, spearmint, oregano, basil and dill, all of which are a good source of magnesium. So, addition of these herbs to recipes not only helps to improve taste but also enhances the nutritional value of the food item.
- Cooked whole grain cereals are also fortified with magnesium. Magnesium levels are much higher in whole wheat bread than in white bread. This is because magnesium rich wheat germ are completely lost during the processing of the flour to make white bread.
- Pumpkin, legumes, raw broccoli and oysters are also grouped into foods containing magnesium.
- Shredded wheat, whole milk, soy milk and dairy products such as yogurt naturally contain magnesium.
Foods with Magnesium in Less Quantity
- Refined grains are considered to be a poor source of magnesium. This is because magnesium content of whole grains reduces drastically when they are refined. Processed foods are generally very low in magnesium.
- Tap water can be a source of this mineral but the magnesium content varies depending on which type of water you are using. For instance, ‘hard’ water is packed with minerals including magnesium, whereas, ‘soft’ water has magnesium in lesser amounts.
- Magnesium is even found in chocolates, particularly chocolate pudding. Biscuits and cakes such as sponge and fruit cakes also have some amount of magnesium in them.
- Eating a variety of meats is a good way to add magnesium intake to your diet. Dark meat that includes turkey and chicken legs also contain a good amount of magnesium. For instance, 200 grams of roasted chicken leg has around 38 mg of magnesium. On the other hand, 1 cup of roasted turkey leg meat has around 46 mg of magnesium. Whereas, 3.5 oz serving of turkey breast provides approximately 22 mg of magnesium.
- When it comes to red meat containing magnesium, one simply cannot forget beef. Although magnesium content in beef is not equivalent to that found in green vegetables, it is definitely not a poor source of magnesium. A decent amount of magnesium is present in beef. This can be gauged from the fact that almost 2 cups of steak pieces contain approximately 100 mg of magnesium. 3.5 oz serving of grounded beef contains around 24 mg of magnesium.
There is no need to take magnesium supplements in the form of capsules if you are including food sources of magnesium in your diet. This is the easiest way to tackle the problem of magnesium deficiency. Hence, make sure that you eat magnesium rich foods as much as possible, daily for optimal health.
- Foods High In Magnesium And Potassium (answers.com)
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- What are the risks of magnesium deficiency? (zocdoc.com)