Updated: Jul 19
By: Taylor Akers, Winthrop University Graduate Student
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral that is responsible for regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. It is also a key component in making proteins, DNA and bone. It is also an important part of over 300 enzymes in our body.
How much should I be consuming?
Your magnesium needs rely heavily on your gender and age. From birth until around 13 years you need anywhere from 30-240 mg per day. Around age 14 is when gender comes into play. Teenage girls need about 360 mg per day, while teenage boys need at least 410 mg per day. As you get older, the amount of magnesium needed per day stays around the same as when you were a teen. The only thing to note is that when you become pregnant and are breastfeeding, your magnesium needs increase.
Foods rich in magnesium
It is recommended that you aim to get most of your magnesium needs from nutrients whenever possible. Some foods rich in magnesium include:
Nuts such as cashews, brazil nuts and almond
If you are limited in what foods you can consume, it is recommended that you use supplements to meet your daily needs. Forms of magnesium that are more easily absorbed include magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, magnesium aspartate, and magnesium chloride. Magnesium citrate is commonly used to help naturally treat constipation.
If you are deficient in magnesium your body will likely not show any obvious signs due to your kidneys retaining magnesium by limiting how much is lost during urination. Low levels overtime can cause symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea, weakness and fatigue. Extreme deficiency overtime can lead to seizures, muscle cramps and numbness. People at high risk of magnesium deficiency are those with type 2 diabetes, long-term alcoholism, those with gastrointestinal issues, and older adults.
On the other hand, it is possible to have toxicity symptoms from overconsumption. Those symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea and could potentially lead to cardiac arrest or an irregular heartbeat.
Magnesium is an important supplement that should be consumed daily in our diets. It is known to have adverse effects on some medications so if you are unsure of your levels or considering supplementation, it is important to discuss with your RD or doctor before making changes.
Office of dietary supplements - magnesium. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/#:~:text=Magnesium%20is%20a%20nutrient%20that,protein%2C%20bone%2C%20and%20DNA. Accessed July 6, 2022.
Klemm CS. What is magnesium? EatRight. https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/magnesium. Accessed July 6, 2022.