Magnesium: The Overlooked Mineral
Magnesium is one of the most essential elements in the human body, but its importance is often overshadowed by the much more well-known calcium. But what many don’t know is that calcium cannot function at all without sufficient magnesium levels in the body. Magnesium not only allows calcium to be properly absorbed and utilized by the body, but it also works as an equal partner in many processes that are often attributed to calcium alone, like building strong bones and teeth.
Are You Missing Magnesium?
Blood serum level tests are not an adequate measure of the amount of magnesium in the body as less than 1% is found in blood serum. The majority of magnesium in the body is found inside cells or in bone. There is currently no comprehensive test for magnesium levels in specific tissues. Excess magnesium in the body is naturally excreted by the kidneys in the urine. But certain conditions like insulin resistance, high amounts of glucose in the kidneys, and excessive alcohol consumption can cause increases in urinary magnesium excretion leading to a deficiency. In addition, malabsorption problems associated with gastrointestinal diseases such Crohn’s disease can also lead to magnesium deficiencies. Symptoms of severe magnesium deficiency include:
• Muscle contractions
• Abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
• Numbness and tingling
• Hypocalcemia (low serum calcium)
• Hypokalemia (low serum potassium)
• Migraine headaches
• Type 2 diabetes
• Cardiovascular disease
Why Is Magnesium So Often Overlooked For Your Health?
Magnesium is an enzyme co-factor in over 300 important metabolic processes in the body. Here are some of the many important functions of magnesium:
• Regulating body temperature
• Enabling nerve impulse conduction
• Maintaining normal hearth rhythm
• Maintaining normal muscle function
• Maintaining good bone density and strong teeth
• Enabling absorption and utilization of calcium
Lesser known is magnesium’s role in the blood glucose and insulin cycle. In one study, when participants were placed on a magnesium-deficient diet, their insulin became less effective at getting sugar from the blood into the cells, where it is burned for energy or stored as fuel. They became more insulin-resistant. Insulin allows magnesium to be transported from our blood into our cells for use and storage, but if our cells become insulin-resistant, the body cannot properly utilize magnesium and it gets excreted through the urine.
Dietary Sources of Magnesium
Many foods are rich in magnesium. Here are the foods with the highest amount of magnesium per serving:
#1 Spinach, cooked (1 cup): 157 mg
#2 Swiss Chard, cooked (1 cup): 150 mg
#3 Black Beans (1 cup): 120 mg
#4 Quinoa (1 cup): 118 mg
#5 Brazil Nuts (1 ounce): 106 mg
#6 Beet Greens, cooked (1 cup): 98 mg
#7 Brown Rice (1 cup) 84 mg
#8 Cashews (1 ounce): 82 mg
#9 Mackerel (3 ounces): 82 mg
#10 Pumpkin Seeds (1 oz): 74 mg
#11 Dark Chocolate, 70-85% (1 ounce): 64 mg
#12 Molasses (1 Tablespoon): 48 mg
#13 Yogurt, plain non-fat (8 oz): 42 mg
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Need more magnesium in your diet? Check out this tasty magnesium-packed dish!
Garlic Greens with Red Pepper Flakes and Pumpkin Seeds