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The Wonders of Magnesium
What is Magnesium?Magnesium is a vital mineral for our health. It is involved in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body, which means in plays a role in hundreds of different processes in order to keep us alive! We do, however, know that 7 out of 10 women and 4 out of 10 men in the UK do not get enough of this mineral through their diet.
What does magnesium do in my body?We know that magnesium is incredibly important and plays a role in so many functions in our body. Let’s have a look at some of its main roles.
Magnesium helps towards healthy bones and teeth:
We know that approximately 70% of our magnesium is stored in our bones and teeth and helps with their hardness and rigidity. This is why it’s so important for their health. If you have any bone or teeth concerns, look to increasing your intake of magnesium. If you are taking a calcium supplement, take a magnesium supplement alongside to help with the calcium absorption.
Magnesium helps reduce feelings of tiredness and fatigue:
One of the roles magnesium plays is in helping breakdown glucose into energy. Therefore if magnesium levels are low your energy levels may drop. In addition, Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) needs magnesium to become biologically active. ATP is a coenzyme which is responsible for transporting energy to our cells. We can therefore see again how essential magnesium is for energy.
- Magnesium helps with energy metabolism in the body – this means that it helps our body create energy from the food we eat.
- Magnesium helps with normal muscle and nerve function – Magnesium works alongside calcium to help muscles relax. This is why it is often recommended to help with relaxation of the muscles after exercise or to help with sleep. It is also often recommended for people who suffer with cramp. Cramp is caused by the muscles contracting tightly and not being able to relax. Magnesium helps the muscles relax and therefore help stop the cramp.
How can I get magnesium in my diet?Foods rich in magnesium include:
- Pumpkin Seeds – the top food source of magnesium. Just half a cup of pumpkin seeds provides nearly 100% of the daily requirements for magnesium! Try sprinkling them over your cereal or snacking on them throughout the day.
- Other nuts and seeds – almonds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, peanuts and walnuts. These are also good sources and great for snacking on.
- Fish – eating fish such as mackerel, wild salmon, halibut and tuna will add magnesium to your diet. They are also great sources of Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Soybeans – these are a nutrient rich legume carrying a high amount of fibre, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Snacking on a handful of dry roasted soybeans will provide you with nearly half the necessary magnesium for the day.
- Other legumes – Legumes such as black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas and lentils are also good sources of magnesium. Try substituting the mince in dishes with one of these legumes or use them as a base for casseroles and soups.
- Whole grains – e.g. brown rice
- Dark green leafy vegetables – such as spinach, broccoli and kale
- Avocados – Try adding avocado to your smoothie or add it to salads to help support your magnesium intake.
- Yoghurt – Top some Greek yogurt with a banana and some pumpkin seeds for a delicious breakfast to start your day with a magnesium kick!
So what are the symptoms of low levels of magnesium?Early signs of low levels of magnesium can include –
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Tiredness and weakness
- Problems with sleep
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Restless Leg syndrome
- Muscle spasm and weakness
Why would I have low magnesium levels?It is actually quite common for people to have low magnesium levels. There are a number of factors that can cause this.
- Gastrointestinal diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, (IBS) and ulcerative colitis
- People who are diabetic often have low magnesium
- Anyone with thyroid issues are prone to low magnesium
- Those taking diuretics or have kidney problems may have low magnesium levels
Other factors that can lower magnesium levels include:
- Drinking too much coffee, fizzy drinks or alcohol
- Eating too much sodium (salt)
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Excessive sweating
- Prolonged stress
- Diet lacking in nutrients
- Diets high in refined and processed foods