Magnesium benefits the heart and bones, but depsite being one of the most abundant minerals in the body, many Canadians have a magnesium deficiency.
Between 50 and 60 percent of magnesium is represented in the bones, and the remainder is found in muscles, major organs, and tissues. More than 300 biochemical processes in the body depend directly on magnesium, including the production of ATP, the body’s primary energy producing molecule. Magnesium is critical for maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, keeping the heart rhythm steady, and keeping our bones strong.
Magnesium is a macro-mineral (minerals required in amounts over 100 mg daily for optimal functioning). The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium is 320 to 420 mg.
Surprisingly, more than 34 percent of Canadian adults do not consume this recommended amount, with the average Canadian diet providing about 200 to 300 mg of magnesium daily. Foods rich in magnesium include legumes, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and seeds (raw pumpkin seeds especially), so hang on to those pumpkin seeds this fall!
Diets high in refined food intake (white sugar, flour, and bread) are correlated with low mineral intake. A significant amount of magnesium is lost during the refining of whole grain flour into white flour.
Impaired absorption and loss of magnesium may also occur as a result of a number of factors, including alcoholism and the use of certain medications such as proton-pump inhibitors and some types of diuretics and antibiotics.
Getting enough magnesium is beneficial, especially for the cardiovascular system. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and heart attacks. Evidence suggests that magnesium may play an important role in regulating blood pressure, due to its natural muscle relaxant ability.
Magnesium may also be beneficial in reducing symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), including bloating and cramping.
It is also well known that magnesium is an important factor for bone health, particularly in helping to prevent postmenopausal bone loss.
Magnesium also plays an important role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels by improving insulin secretion and action. Studies show that many individuals with type 2 diabetes are magnesium deficient.
Supplementing magnesium intake
In terms of supplementation, not all magnesium supplements are created equal. The most absorbable forms of magnesium include those “chelated” or bound to an organic molecule, such as the amino acid glycine. Consult your natural health practitioner to assess your need for magnesium prior to supplementation.