What is magnesium and why is it essential?Magnesium is required for over 300 biochemical reactions within the body such as nerve and muscle function, blood glucose control, heart muscle contraction, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium is an essential mineral and every cell in the human body contains it and needs it to function properly. Pretty cool, hey! The Australian Bureau of Statistics report from the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (2011-2012) found that one in three Australians over the age of two did not meet their Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for daily intake of Magnesium. The results of the national survey also revealed that 41% of males and 35% of females above 19 years did not meet the EAR. Source: canva.com/photos/MAED-4Arluk You might not be getting the recommended daily intake of magnesium in your diet due to many reasons such as:
- Poor dietary habits, including eating a diet high in processed and refined foods. Did you know that the processing and refining of foods can remove magnesium from foods by up to 80%, that’s crazy!!
- Soil is not what it used to be. Erosion of soil, unbalanced crop fertilisation and the addition of pesticides may be key contributors to a reduction in magnesium levels. Lower concentrations of magnesium in the soil means lower levels in plants and therefore lower animal and human intake.
- Magnesium levels are also depleted from the body quickly when there is chronic stress, regular strenuous exercise and excess intake of sodium, coffee and alcohol.
- Magnesium absorption can be inhibited by a high intake of phytic acids which are found in seeds, legumes and unprocessed wholegrains. If you soak these in water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar prior to cooking the phytic acid can be reduced, which means better mineral absorption - YAY!
What are the benefits of magnesium?Magnesium regulates many fundamental bodily functions, including:
- Contraction and relaxation of your muscles
- Nervous system regulation
- Sending and receiving nerve signals
- Regulating blood pressure
- Support blood sugar regulation
- Keeping your immune system strong
- Promote healthy bones and teeth
- Energy production
- Reproduction and hormonal balance
- Encourage a more restful sleep
- Maintain heart health
- The list goes on and on…
How many types of magnesium are there and what does each do?Magnesium can be taken in supplement form, found in food or used topically. There are at least 10 different types of magnesium, all of which have different functions within the body. In order to choose the right magnesium to support a specific health concern, it is best to understand what each magnesium does and work with a qualified practitioner. See below more information on 10 of the magnesium types.
- Magnesium Glycinate is created from elemental magnesium and the amino acid glycine. An easily absorbed magnesium that is calming, may help with insomnia and is less laxative then some of the other magnesium types. Research shows it may help with depression.
- Magnesium Citrate is bound with citric acid and found naturally in citrus fruits. Magnesium citrate is easily absorbed and has a laxative effect which may help with relieving constipation. Magnesium citrate may also help with calming the nervous system.
- Magnesium Oxide is a salt that combines magnesium and oxygen. It is poorly absorbed by the digestive system so not a good choice for increasing magnesium levels in the body. Magnesium oxide may help to balance blood sugar levels, treat constipation, relieve heartburn, reduce stress and anxiety.
- Magnesium Chloride is a magnesium salt that includes chlorine. It is easily absorbed in the digestive tract and may help reduce heartburn, constipation and magnesium deficiency. In patients with type 2 diabetes 300mg of magnesium chloride was administered for 16 weeks which led to significant reductions in fasting glucose and glycosylated haemoglobin concentrations when compared to participants receiving a placebo. This type of magnesium is often used in skin creams and may help relieve sore muscles but not improve magnesium deficiency.
- Magnesium Lactate is made when magnesium binds with lactic acid. It is easily absorbed and gentle on the digestive tract. It may help alleviate leg cramps in pregnant women and replenish a magnesium deficiency.
- Magnesium Malate is a salt combination made of magnesium and malic acid. It may be used to treat conditions that overstimulate the neuromuscular system such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. However studies are in their infancy and require more scientific evidence to support this.
- Magnesium Taurate contains the amino acid taurine. It may be useful in regulating blood sugar levels.
- Magnesium Orotate is a combination of magnesium and orotic acid. It has been primarily studied for heart health and energy production.
- Magnesium L-threonate is created by mixing magnesium and threonic acid, a water-soluble substance that comes from the breakdown of vitamin C. It has the ability to cross the blood brain barrier and may support brain health, focus, learning, and help with disorders like depression and memory loss.
- Magnesium Sulphate is commonly known as epsom salt and is made by combining magnesium, sulphur, and oxygen. It dissolves easily into water and may be used to calm the nervous system and relieve sore muscles, however little research supports these uses.
Are there foods rich in magnesium?Rich nutritional sources of magnesium can be found in green vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, avocado, edamame and dark chocolate. Smaller amounts of magnesium can also be found in milk and milk products, fruits, fish and meat. Hemp Seeds are a great source of magnesium. Just 3 tablespoons provide over 50% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium for men and 67% for women. Source: unsplash.com/photos/tWe8ib-cnXY Hemp seeds are easy to add to sweet and savoury meals. You can add them to baked goods such as apple muffins or banana bread or simply sprinkle them on top of yoghurt, porridge, roasted pumpkin or stir into a salad. Photo Credit - @margos_wholebodynutrition
Can you overdose on magnesium? And are there any alternatives to magnesium?You cannot overdose from food sources - you’d have to eat a truck load of greens or dark chocolate (I know what you're thinking - the chocolate is totally doable). But seriously it just isn’t possible. However you can overdose from taking a magnesium supplement so it is always best to work under the guidance of a qualified practitioner. If you are reaching for magnesium to help with sleep or stress, a great complementary product is the Vasse Valley Siesta – terpenes. This magical blend may assist with relaxation, sleep quality, mood and immune health. Who doesn’t want to feel more relaxed and sleep better. It sounds pretty amazing! Photo Credit - www.stevebarko.com
* Conclusion *Due to magnesiums many functions in the body, maintaining healthy levels of this mineral is imperative for health. We hope you enjoyed reading about the best sources of magnesium in 2022. Why not try adding some Vasse Valley hemp seeds into your diet daily for some added magnesium support!
*** Disclaimer ***Nothing contained in this blog post is a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for educational and informative purposes only. Please consult a registered medical professional prior to making significant dietary changes, taking any supplements or modifying any medications.
About The Author:Margo White is a Clinical Nutritionist who holds a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition and Dietetic Medicine. Margo uses food as medicine to gently nourish, strengthen and support health. She believes that life is about balance, and shouldn’t be restrictive. Margo advocates for an 80/20 way of eating; 80% whole foods and 20% soul foods - soul foods to nourish your soul and bring you great joy. When she’s not seeing clients in the clinic she is either in the kitchen developing recipes or creating content and blog writing for various aligned food companies.