Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions. It is a crucial component of a healthy diet, and its levels are tightly regulated by the body. Approximately 50-60% of magnesium is stored in the bones, while the rest is found in soft tissues and a small fraction in the blood.
Functions of Magnesium
- Energy production: Magnesium plays a vital role in cellular energy production by participating in the conversion of food into adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
- Muscle and nerve function: Magnesium is essential for proper nerve impulse transmission and muscle relaxation, helping to prevent muscle cramps and spasms.
- Bone health: Magnesium is a structural component of bones and is involved in bone mineralization and calcium regulation.
- Protein synthesis: Magnesium is necessary for the synthesis of proteins, including DNA and RNA.
- Blood pressure regulation: Magnesium helps to regulate blood pressure by modulating vascular tone and promoting vasodilation.
Good Sources of Magnesium
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are rich sources of magnesium.
- Whole grains: Brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread are good sources of magnesium.
- Leafy green vegetables: Spinach, kale, and Swiss chard contain significant amounts of magnesium.
- Legumes: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are magnesium-rich options.
- Fish: Salmon, mackerel, and halibut provide dietary magnesium.
How Much Magnesium Do We Need?
(Based on NIH recommendations): The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium varies depending on age, sex, and life stage. Some general guidelines are:
- Infants 0-6 months*: 30 mg/day (milligram)
- Infants 7-12 months*: 75 mg/day
- Children 1-3 years: 80 mg/day
- Children 4-8 years: 130 mg/day
- Children 9-13 years: 240 mg/day
- Adolescents 14-18 years (males): 410 mg/day
- Adolescents 14-18 years (females): 360 mg/day
- Adults 19-30 years (males): 400 mg/day
- Adults 19-30 years (females): 310 mg/day
- Adults 31 years and older (males): 420 mg/day
- Adults 31 years and older (females): 320 mg/day
- Pregnant women 19-30: 350 mg/day
- Pregnant women 31+: 360 mg/day
- Breastfeeding women 19-30: 310 mg/day
- Breastfeeding women 31+: 320 mg/day
* Adequate intake (AI)
What Are The Signs of Magnesium Deficiency?
Magnesium deficiency, or hypomagnesemia, can manifest in various ways. Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- Fatigue and weakness
- Numbness or tingling in extremities
- Irregular heartbeat
What Happens If I Take Too Much Magnesium?
Excessive magnesium intake, or hypermagnesemia, can lead to several health issues, primarily when consumed through supplements. Some possible consequences include:
- Diarrhoea: High magnesium intake, particularly from magnesium-containing laxatives and antacids, can cause diarrhoea.
- Kidney problems: Excessive magnesium intake can strain the kidneys and lead to kidney failure in individuals with pre-existing kidney issues.
- Low blood pressure: Extremely high levels of magnesium can cause a drop in blood pressure, resulting in dizziness and fainting.
- Irregular heartbeat: Extremely high magnesium levels can interfere with the normal electrical activity of the heart, leading to an irregular heartbeat or, in severe cases, cardiac arrest.
- Respiratory issues: Excess magnesium can impact muscle function, including the muscles responsible for breathing, potentially leading to respiratory problems or failure.