Public Health

Health Benefits of Magnesium

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Healthy habits like eating nourishing foods, getting plenty of sleep and exercising regularly keep you feeling your best. Another way to set yourself up for better health is to ensure you have enough magnesium in your daily diet. That’s why our experts are sharing ideas for incorporating more into your day.

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is a mineral naturally present in many foods and abundant in your body.

What Does Magnesium do for Your Body?

Magnesium benefits you in many ways, supporting over 600 reactions in your body, including nerve and muscle function, heart health and cognitive ability.

Magnesium has also been reported to:

  • Boost the immune system
  • Improve sleep
  • Maintain bone health
  • Prevent migraines
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Support mental health

Typical magnesium levels for healthy adults range from 1.5 to 2.5 milligrams per deciliter of blood. Low magnesium levels can increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and weak bones.

How to Get Magnesium

Our bodies do not create magnesium, so one of the best ways to be sure you’re getting enough is to eat a diet rich in foods that naturally contain it.

Foods high in magnesium include:

  • Beans and legumes — found in fresh salsas, salads or hearty soups, beans and legumes
  • Dairy products — milk, and other dairy products like cheese and yogurt
  • Dark green, leafy plants — kale, spinach and collard greens can be incorporated into soups, salads and casseroles to pack an extra punch of magnesium
  • Fruits — especially avocadoes, bananas, blackberries and papaya
  • Grains — healthy grains that are high in magnesium include brown rice, quinoa and shredded wheat
  • Nuts and seeds — peanuts, almonds, cashews, flaxseeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds are all rich in magnesium. You can get nearly a quarter of the daily recommended value of magnesium by eating just one handful of nuts
  • Vegetables — potatoes, broccoli, corn and peas make great side dishes and provide the magnesium you need to support your whole health

What is Magnesium Deficiency?

A magnesium deficiency develops when your body doesn’t have adequate magnesium levels to support the processes that depend on it. Signs of magnesium deficiency often begin as fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, and then progress to more severe symptoms like numbness, tingling, personality changes, heart arrhythmias and even seizures.

Certain groups are more at risk for developing magnesium deficiency, including people with certain gastrointestinal illnesses like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, Type 2 diabetes, alcohol dependence, and older adults who may have nutrient absorption issues.

If your diet prevents you from getting enough magnesium or you have a health-related magnesium deficiency, a magnesium supplement may be right for you.

Benefits of Taking Magnesium

The advantages of taking magnesium supplements are the same as consuming magnesium in foods. There are several kinds of magnesium supplements including magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, magnesium malate, magnesium oxide and magnesium glycinate.

Side Effects of Taking Magnesium

It is possible to take too much magnesium. Magnesium side effects can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting

Dangerously high levels of magnesium in the blood can cause irregular heartbeat, confusion, low blood pressure, slowed breathing, and sometimes death. If you’re concerned you may be getting too much or too little magnesium, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss your concerns.

Do I need a magnesium supplement?

A simple blood test can help your doctor determine if you might benefit from a supplement. But you should always consult a doctor before taking any supplement. Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to determine your needs and to create a proven plan for wellness.

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