Do you experience muscle tension, muscle spasms and cramps, nervousness, stress and/or anxiety? Or how about low energy, fatigue, irregular heartbeats or loss of appetite? These are some signs that your body may not be getting enough magnesium. So what is magnesium and what sort of conditions can benefit from it?
Magnesium is a chemical element with many beneficial properties that aids in the existence of life and is found in large concentrations in seawater, after sodium and chlorine.
In addition to having multiple benefits as a metal, such as in die-casting and in the production of aluminum alloy, magnesium has a number of roles in biology.
When considering the mass of the body and the composition of elements in the body in relation to the body mass, magnesium is identified as the 11th most commonly found element. Each and every cell in the body requires magnesium to function properly. Approximately three hundred enzymes in the body also require magnesium. These enzymes need magnesium ions to function as they are intended.
Magnesium is extremely important for energy production in the body, DNA, RNA, and the development and reproduction of all living beings. Medical compounds are also prepared using magnesium including laxatives, antacids such as milk of magnesia and to treat various conditions like eclampsia and resulting nerve excitations and spasms in blood vessels.
It can also be used to treat mild cognitive impairments in the form of magnesium I-threonate. In addition, magnesium can delay labor in premature labor cases, used as a nebulizer to reduce acute asthma symptoms and used as an anti-arrhythmic agent in cardiac arrest.
Magnesium is extremely important for energy production in the body.
Conditions that can benefit from magnesium
Some conditions that may benefit from magnesium include:
- Fatigue, lethargy, and tiredness
- Migraines and tension headaches
- Muscle cramps / spasm
- Stress, anxiety, panic disorders
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- High Blood pressure
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Food sources of magnesium
There is no doubt that magnesium is an essential mineral for the proper function of the human body.
However, statistics show that many individuals do not meet the recommended daily intake of magnesium. The recommended dietary intakes (RDI) and estimated average requirements (EAR) of magnesium are provided in the tables below.
There are a number of foods that can be included in your diet to obtain a healthy amount of magnesium and to meet these recommended levels.
Dark chocolate (raw cacao) is rich in magnesium and contains about 64mg in a 28g serving. Avocados also contain magnesium in addition to a large number of other essential nutrients.
A medium avocado contains approximately 58mg of magnesium. Almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts also contain magnesium in significant amounts.
Legumes, tofu, seeds such as pumpkin, flax and chia, whole grains, fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, bananas and leafy greens are all great sources of magnesium.
Magnesium deficiency is also known as hypomagnesaemia. There are a number of signs and symptoms that can appear during magnesium deficiencies such as muscle twitches and cramps which can lead to seizures during worst case scenarios, mental disorders such as apathy, delirium and even comas when severe and disorders such as osteoporosis.
High blood pressure, weakness in muscles and fatigue, asthma and irregular heartbeat are also symptoms of hypomagnesaemia.
Magnesium can be depleted from the body in multiple ways. The major cause of low magnesium in the body is poor diets.
In general, the American diet (similar to Australian diet) significantly lacks recommended amounts of magnesium and is also identified as a diet that increases the need for magnesium in the body.
Calcium supplements, various medications, use of alcohol and other addictions are also known to cause deficiencies in magnesium. Aging, illness and digestive disorders may lead to hypomagnesaemia as well.
One in every three people over the age of two years in the Australian population does not meet the recommended daily intake of magnesium. Lack of magnesium can cause a large number of illnesses and disorders therefore it is important to incorporate foods rich in magnesium into your diet in order to maintain a healthy life and avoid various health hazards.
Table 1 : The Adequate Intake of magnesium for infants below 1 years of age (Nrv.gov.au, 2018)
|Age||The Adequate Intake of Magnesium|
|0-6 months||30 mg/day|
|7-12 months||75 mg/day|
Table 2: The Estimated Average Requirement and Recommended Dietary Intake of magnesium for children above 1 years of age (Nrv.gov.au, 2018)
|Age||Estimated Average Requirement of Magnesium||Recommended Dietary Intake of Magnesium|
|Boys and Girls|
|1-3 yr||65 mg/day||80 mg/day|
|4-8 yr||110 mg/day||130 mg/day|
|9-13 yr||200 mg/day||240 mg/day|
|14-18 yr||340 mg/day||410 mg/day|
|9-13 yr||200 mg/day||240 mg/day|
|14-18 yr||300 mg/day||360 mg/day|
Table 3: The Estimated Average Requirement and Recommended Dietary Intake of magnesium for men and women in various age groups (Nrv.gov.au, 2018)
|Age||Estimated Average Requirement||Recommended Dietary Intake|
|19-30 yr||330 mg/day||400 mg/day|
|31-50 yr||350 mg/day||420 mg/day|
|51-70 yr||350 mg/day||420 mg/day|
|>70 yr||350 mg/day||420 mg/day|
|19-30 yr||255 mg/day||310 mg/day|
|31-50 yr||265 mg/day||320 mg/day|
|51-70 yr||265 mg/day||320 mg/day|
|>70 yr||265 mg/day||320 mg/day|
- Housecroft, C. E.; Sharpe, A. G. (2008). Inorganic Chemistry (3rd ed.). Prentice Hall. pp. 305–306. ISBN 978-0131755536.
- Romani, Andrea, M.P. (2013). “Chapter 3. Magnesium in Health and Disease”. In Astrid Sigel; Helmut Sigel; Roland K. O. Sigel. Interrelations between Essential Metal Ions and Human Diseases. Metal Ions in Life Sciences. 13. Springer. pp. 49–79. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-7500-8_3
- Saris NE, Mervaala E, Karppanen H, Khawaja JA, Lewenstam A (April 2000). “Magnesium. An update on physiological, clinical and analytical aspects”. Clin Chim Acta. 294 (1-2): 1–26. PMID 10727669
- Nrv.gov.au. (2018). Magnesium | Nutrient Reference Values. [online] Available at: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/magnesium [Accessed 2 Mar. 2018].