Magnesium may not be a nutrient that you think about very often. But perhaps you should. Dietary surveys suggest that many people aren’t meeting the recommended intake and could be losing out on important health benefits. Magnesium is a mineral that plays an important role in bone health, energy production, protein synthesis and blood glucose control. New research even suggests that magnesium can help lower blood pressure.
Mild magnesium deficiency may be more common than we believe. Some signs and symptoms are fatigue, muscle cramps, loss of appetite, insomnia, headaches and nausea. Since these are fairly common symptoms it can be difficult to diagnose. If left untreated, a severe magnesium deficiency can result in numbness, tingling, seizures and abnormal heart rhythm. A severe deficiency would be unlikely in healthy individuals. However, those with certain gastrointestinal conditions, type 2 diabetes, or a history of alcoholism may be more likely to experience magnesium deficiency due to decreased absorption.
Unlike calcium or vitamin C, there isn’t one specific food group that magnesium is abundant in. Magnesium is plentiful in many healthy foods, particularly foods that contain fiber. If you’re diet is low in fiber, it’s likely that you aren’t getting enough magnesium. Below is a list of magnesium rich foods, listed from highest magnesium content to lowest.
- Black beans
- Whole wheat bread
- Brown rice
How to know if you are getting enough? The DRI for magnesium for women is 320 mg/day and for men it is 420 mg/day. Because magnesium content is not listed on nutrition labels, it would not be easy to determine your exact intake. The best advice is to eat a variety of high fiber foods and be sure to include some of the healthy foods listed above on a daily basis.
Heather Mason is a Registered Dietitian who holds a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science. She has a passion for debunking nutrition myths and helping people discover delicious and healthy food. You can read more posts from her on her blog, Nutty Nutrition.