Give Magnesium a Chance!

Why is Magnesium important? 

One of the most important day to day roles magnesium plays is the transport of calcium and potassium across cell membranes which influences:  normal heart rhythm, muscle contraction, and nerve impulse conduction.  Pretty important to outdoor lovers for sure!  Its also plays a role in: blood sugar levels, blood pressure regulation, building of proteins, and the functioning of over 300 enzymes.

What about your bones?  Magnesium plays a major role in bone formation and influences Vitamin D to do its job in maintaining healthy bones.

Magnesium has a role in exercise as well.  Its a big player in muscle function, specifically helping your muscles with oxygen uptake, energy production, and electrolyte balance during exercise. Not enough dietary magnesium could possibly hinder exercise performance and increase oxidative stress on the body.  Research says that a magnesium intake less than 260 mg/day for male and 220 mg/day for female athletes may result in a magnesium-deficient status.

Additionally, adequate magnesium intake from natural whole foods decreases the risk of osteoporosis, migraine headaches, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, and preterm labor to name a few.

Also, magnesium doesn’t get talked about much when you are pregnant unless you have preterm labor.  I have found this mineral is extremely important for the pregnant woman–I mean you are building another human being!!.    It helps with building your baby’s structural support as in bones and teeth.  And it has a key involvement in  making proteins which are the building blocks of cells.  Cells are rapidly dividing and growing during pregnancy into the baby’s heart, lungs, eyes, legs, muscles….etc.  Also, magnesium from may reduce: leg cramps, preterm labor, risk of pre-eclampsia, and poor early fetal growth.

How much magnesium you need?

Children
1 to 3: 80 mg

Females
4-8: 130 mg
9-13: 240 mg
14 to 18: 360 mg
19 to 30: 310 mg
31 to 50: 320 mg
51+: 320 mg

Males
4-8: 130 mg
9-13: 240 mg
14 to 18: 410 mg
19 to 30: 400 mg
31 to 50: 420 mg
51+: 420 mg

Pregnant
14 to 18: 400 mg
19 to 30: 350 mg
31 to 50: 360 mg

Breastfeeding
14 to 18: 360 mg
19 to 30: 310 mg
31 to 50: 320 mg

Food sources of magnesium

Magnesium is plentiful in nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish*, vegetables, and some legumes.

List of Selected Foods

FoodPortion SizeAmount (mg)
Pumpkin/squash seed kernels1 ounce156
Chard, Swiss, chopped1 cup150
Quinoa, cooked1 cup118
Oatmeal, regular, cooked1 cup112
Brazil Nuts, dried1 ounce (only eat 1-2 pieces/day107
Oat bran muffin1 small104
Beans, French, cooked1 cup99
Chocolate, dark1 square95
Halibut, cooked3 ounces91
Spinach, cooked from fresh, frozen, or canned1/2 cup78
Almonds1 ounce76
Lentils, cooked1 cup71
Black beans, cooked1/2 cup60
Flatfish (flounder and sole), cooked3 ounces49
Tofu, firm, nigari1/2 cup47
Yogurt, plain, nonfat8 ounces43
Rice, brown, cooked1/2 cup43
Pinto beans, cooked1/2 cup 43
Haddock, cooked3 ounces42
Banana1 medium31
Avacado1 medium29
Kale, chopped, raw1 cup23

View a list of selected foods high in magnesium

*Do not eat king makerel, swordfish, tilefish, or shark while pregnant

Preterm Labor: Check out this new fact sheet from the FDA on Magnesium Sulfate which is commonly used to stop preterm labor contractions

References:

1.  NIH: Office of Dietary Supplements
2.  Report of the DGAC on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
3.  Takay and Kaneko, “Small for gestational age in cord blood platelets: intrauterine magnesium deficiency may induce metabolic syndrome later in life”, Journal of Pregnancy, 5 pp. vol. 2011
4.  Nielson and Lukaski, “Update on the relationship between magnesium and exercise.”, Magnes Res 2006 Sep;19(3):180-9.