Magnesium: Everything You Need to Know about – Amazing Benefits, Unbelievable Risks

Spoiler alert, you’re probably not getting enough magnesium through your daily eating habits

Supplements of minerals and vitamins, like magnesium
Photo by Mika Baumeister

Magnesium is incredibly important in the body. It’s used in a variety of functions in the body and is vital for our wellbeing. Even with a healthy diet, however, some individuals may be deficient in magnesium. This may be due to a variety of reasons, from disease to a lack of this mineral in food sources.

Keep reading to learn the answers to many questions like “what are the benefits of magnesium?”, “what is magnesium used for in the body?”, “what are the risks of magnesium deficiency?”, “what food sources contain magnesium?” and much more!

What is Magnesium

This is a mineral that is vital to many functions in the body. It is used in almost every area, playing an important role in chemical reactions.

What is Magnesium’s Function in the Body?

This mineral plays a huge role in the body. 

It is used in hundreds of chemical and enzymatic reactions, meaning is it vital for many roles. Magnesium is used in muscle reaction and nerve function. It also plays a role in energy production for the entire body as well as sleep, stabilizing blood pressure, bone strength, heart health, and decreased inflammation.

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

People may experience a deficiency due to diseases such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, intestinal surgery, or even medication.

However, many Americans, for the most part, tend to not eat foods rich in this nutrient as well, leading to deficiencies.

Symptoms of a deficiency are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleepiness
  • Fatigue 
  • Headache 
  • Weak body
  • Nausea

As the deficiency progresses, it can lead to:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle contractions
  • Numbness 
  • Tingling
  • Abnormal heart rate and rhythm
  • Mood swings

We need to consume enough magnesium to maintain a healthy state.

Benefits of Magnesium

Adequate amounts of this mineral can decrease inflammation, reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers. Another benefit of having enough magnesium in the diet is that it lowers the risk of osteoporosis, reduces insomnia, and lowers blood pressure.

It may even reduce migraines and improve mood, reducing symptoms of depression.

Dosage of Magnesium

Magnesium can be found in a variety of supplements. If you have proper kidney function, overdosing on magnesium is rare.

However, it can be acquired through food sources in high amounts. Food sources should be used first before any supplements are acquired.

By age, the recommended daily dose of this nutrient for children is:

  • 1-3 years – 80 mg
  • 4-8 – 130 mg
  • 9-13 – 240 mg 

For females:

  • 14-18 – 360 mg
  • 19-30 – 310 mg
  • 31 and up – 320 mg

For males:

  • 14-18 – 410 mg
  • 19-30 – 400 mg
  • 31 and up – 420 mg

Remember, this is an average, as every body is different! Plus, this number may also vary if you are breastfeeding or pregnant.

Food Sources High in Magnesium

There are many food sources high in this mineral. These include leafy greens, nuts, beans, and whole grains. The top sources are:

  • Cashews: 1 oz, 74 mg
  • Peanuts: Serving Size ¼ cup, 49 mg
  • Pumpkin seed – kernels: 1 oz, 160 mg
  • Almonds: 1 oz, 80 mg
  • Spinach, boiled: ½ cup, 78 mg

This is why subtle deficiencies are common.

Many individuals may only eat half a cup of spinach, which only contains a fraction of the magnesium needed by the body. Even pairing it with some nuts may not be enough.

Luckily, many other food sources have traces of magnesium.

These include:

  • Black beans: ½ cup, 60 mg
  • Lima Beans: ½ cup, 40 mg
  • Kidney beans: ½ cup, 35 mg
  • Edamame: ½ cup, 50 mg
  • Cacao: 1 oz, 67 mg
  • Avocado: 100 grams cup, 24 mg
  • Potato with skin: 3.5 oz, 43 mg
  • Oatmeal: ½ cup, 36 mg
  • Brown Rice: ½ cup, 42 mg

Should I Take a Supplement?

For a healthy individual that actively consume foods high in magnesium, a supplement may not be necessary.

Consult your doctor on blood work to check if you are deficient. Supplements may help improve sleep, mood, heart health, and lower blood sugar. It may even reduce headaches or lack of energy.

These supplements can come in a variety of forms such as magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, magnesium aspartate, magnesium chloride, magnesium malate, or magnesium taurate.

Check out these forms, as they are the ones absorbed best by the body. Other variations of supplements are less effective, therefore you should avoid them. Try them out and choose the one that you like the most!

Risks of Over Consuming Magnesium

Overconsumption of this nutrient is rare for people using food sources, as most ingest insignificant levels and have proper kidney function.

However, if you use supplements there is a risk for cramps, loose stool, and interaction with medications.

The Takeaway

Magnesium is a highly important mineral in the body used for almost everything.

It is important in sleep, muscle function, bone health, heart health, and much more. Deficiency in this can lead to life-threatening risks such as diabetes, certain cancers, and osteoporosis. Many people are deficient in this nutrient because they do not the proper amount from the foods they consume.

Nuts and leafy greens high in this nutrient should be consumed daily. Overdosing in magnesium is rare if you are using food sources, as food sources are usually well under the recommended daily dose. Use supplementation if you believe you are truly at risk or are currently deficit in it.

In healthy individuals, there should be no side effects, though take care to read magnesium supplement directions and dosages to avoid cramps. Avoid supplements if you are taking heart medication or antibiotics.

Remember, health comes from within! By giving your body the building blocks it needs, you can reach health goals, one step at a time.

Wellness and wellbeing are a journey. Take small steps daily to increase health exponentially. Focus on micro habits, small changes, that have a big impact. Try to develop new habits to increase mental health. Plus, remember to take care of gut health too! Microbiota health affects physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, even the condition of your skin.

Check out everything you need to know about what the microbiota is and how to take care of it here!

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