Magnesium in diet

By: Prashant Bharadwaj (LT MHPS)

Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, keeps the heart beat steady, and keeps the bones strong. It also helps regulate blood glucose levels and aid in the production of energy and protein.

Very few people are aware of the role that magnesium plays on our health. It is important to nearly every function and tissue in the body, supports a healthy immune system, prevents inflammation associated with certain cancers and boosts heart health. Lack of magnesium may lead to the following health problems:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Heart attack
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Constipation
  • Tension or migraine headaches
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Hormone imbalance and PMS

Before this deficiency turns into a serious problem, lack of magnesium has an early sign of deficiency.

These symptoms are categorized into:

Early symptoms:

  • Anorexia
  • Apathy
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Muscle twitching
  • Poor memory
  • Reduced ability to learn

Moderate deficiency symptoms:

  • Heart (cardiovascular) changes
  • Rapid heartbeat

Severe deficiency:

  • Continued muscle contraction
  • Delirium
  • Numbness
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Tingling

Recommended Intakes

Based on the average requirement of the different age group the per day requirement on magnesium is tabulated below:

Age GroupMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
Birth to 6 months30 mg*30 mg*
7–12 months75 mg*75 mg*
1–3 years80 mg80 mg
4–8 years130 mg130 mg
9–13 years240 mg240 mg
14–18 years410 mg360 mg400 mg360 mg
19–30 years400 mg310 mg350 mg310 mg
31–50 years420 mg320 mg360 mg320 mg
51+ years420 mg320 mg

Sources of Magnesium

Magnesium is widely distributed in plant and animal foods and in beverages. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains are good sources. In general, foods containing dietary fibre provide magnesium. Some types of food processing, such as refining grains in ways that remove the nutrient-rich germ and bran lowers magnesium content substantially. Approximately 30-40% of the dietary magnesium consumed is typically absorbed by the body.

Top 10 Magnesium Rich Foods

Green leafy vegetables aren’t the only foods that are rich in magnesium and chlorophyll. Below mentioned  foods items high in magnesium can be incorporated by you in your diet”

(For men, recommended intake is 400 milligrammes and for women, the recommended intake is 310 milligrammes a day)

  • Spinach — 1 cup: 157 milligrammes
  • Chard — 1 cup: 154 milligrammes
  • Pumpkin seeds — 1/8 cup: 92 milligrammes
  • Yoghurt or Kefir — 1 cup: 50 milligrammes
  • Almonds — 1 ounce: 80 milligrammes
  • Black Beans — ½ cup: 60 milligrammes
  • Avocado — 1 medium: 58 milligrammes
  • Figs — ½ cup: 50 milligrammes
  • Dark Chocolate — 1 square: 95 milligrammes
  • Banana — 1 medium: 32 milligrammes

Other foods that are high in magnesium content include salmon, coriander, cashews, goat cheese and artichokes.

Hope this piece of information helps you to get a better understanding of your daily requirement of Magnesium and helps you to stay healthy.

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health


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