Magnesium is often referred to as ‘nature’s tranquilizer’ due to its calming effect on the nervous system.
‘Eat your greens!’ You’ve probably heard this many times, but do you know why?
There are a myriad of reasons to eat your greens including the high fibre content but an important reason is because they are a very good source of magnesium together with other nutrients (1). All green plants contain chlorophyll, the central atom of which is magnesium and which is responsible for the green pigment.
So, why is magnesium important in our diet?
It is needed for more than 300 enzymes involved in biochemical processes including:
• Hormone balance.
• Blood pressure control.
• Muscle and nerve function.
• Bowel function and constipation.
• Bone health/preventing osteoporosis.
• Blood glucose control.
• Protein synthesis and much more.
Magnesium and energy
It is also needed for energy production in every cell of our bodies and for the function of insulin that controls blood glucose entry into the cells. A research study of over 500,000 people demonstrated that low magnesium intake is significantly associated with risk of type 2 diabetes (2).
Given the wide range of physiological mechanisms that magnesium supports, a deficiency of magnesium has been linked to various symptoms including but not limited to fatigue, muscle cramps, heart disease, insomnia, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety (3). Indeed in the nutrition world, magnesium is often referred to as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ due to its calming effect on the nervous system.
Why are we lacking magnesium?
Carolyn Dean, researcher and author of ‘The Miracle of Magnesium’, states that deficiency could be linked to modern farming methods that deplete soils. Most processed foods are lacking magnesium following the extraction of oils from seeds and from grains in the milling process to make flours. Overcooking vegetables will also result in lost magnesium (4).
So how can we ensure we get sufficient magnesium?
The information below provides an indication of foods that would help you get enough in your daily diet
Foods and the MG per 100g:
- Dark Leafy Greens: 79 mg
- Pumpkin Seeds: 534 mg
- Brown Rice: 86 mg
Beans and Lentils: 86 mg
- Brazil Nuts: 376 mg
- Avocado: 29 mg
- Dried Figs: 68 mg
- Bananas: 27 mg
Watch those drinks!
If you have been consuming fizzy drinks these contain high levels of phosphates which bind to magnesium (and incidental-ly other minerals) making them unavaila-ble for absorption in the body, as can high intake of tea and coffee (4).
Are you tired and wired?
Stressful busy lives can increase magnesium requirements as our adrenal ‘stress’ glands use large amounts of magnesium (4). Magnesium is also im-portant for hormonal balance in males and females and deficiency has been linked to PMS symptoms (5).
How much do we need?
The RDA is 375 mg for adults (6). Hope-fully, you’ve been convinced to eat your broccoli and cabbage but luckily nuts and dark chocolate (with high cocoa solids e.g. 85%+) are also great sources.
Thanks to Registered Nutritionist (BANT) Samantha Lewis for this article.