There is no doubt that magnesium and other essential minerals are a valued and sought-after part of our diets. Our bodies require minerals for all aspects of life and smooth functioning. Most people rarely get enough minerals in their diet. Essential minerals, like other essential nutrients, cannot be metabolized from within the body; they must be consumed. Many of us are well aware of the sources and benefits of calcium and potassium, but what about magnesium?
Why We Need Magnesium:
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. Two-thirds of it is found in your bones and the rest in your tissues. This amazing mineral is absorbed into the body through the intestines and is then transported through the blood to your cells and organs where it’s stored. Because the body can’t produce it (unlike some nutrients like vitamin A), you need to eat enough magnesium rich foods on a daily basis to remain healthy.
Researchers know that magnesium plays a wide variety of roles in the body. Your cardiovascular system, digestive system, nervous system, muscles, kidneys, liver, hormone-secreting glands and brain all rely on the mineral to accomplish even the most basic tasks. And scientists believe it may play an important role in preventing or treating dozens of health conditions including asthma, autism, heart disease, eclampsia, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, PMS and lupus.
Are You Magnesium Deficient?
Because the magnesium is involved is a wide array of bodily reactions and functions, symptoms of a magnesium deficiency can vary widely. Here are some of the most common:
- Heart arrhythmia or an increased heart rate
- Muscle Weakness, tremors and spasms
- Imbalanced blood sugar levels
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Lack of appetite
You can, however, get too much of this mineral. Magnesium toxicity usually results when it is taken as a supplement or in pill form. Toxicity symptoms include drowsiness, weakness and diarrhea. Stick to mineral rich foods, unless directed differently by your doctor.
How Can We Add Magnesium To Your Diet?
Eating a variety of foods that contain magnesium is the best way to get an adequate amount. Healthy individuals who eat a balanced diet rarely need supplements. Intakes of of this mineral tend to be low in relation to recommendations, and there aren’t that many foods that are really good sources; thus, it may take special care to ensure an adequate
intake. The list of foods will help you select those that are good sources of magnesium as you follow the Dietary Guidelines. The list of good sources was derived from the same nutritive value of foods tables used to analyze information for recent food consumption surveys of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Human Nutrition Information Service.
The serving sizes used on the list of good sources are only estimates of the amounts of food you might eat. The amount of nutrient in a serving depends on the weight of the serving. For example, 1/2 cup of a cooked vegetable contains more magnesium than 1/2 cup of the same vegetable served raw, because a serving of the cooked vegetable weighs more. Therefore, the cooked vegetable may appear on the list while the raw form does not. The raw vegetable provides the nutrient – but just not enough in a 1/2-cup serving to be considered a good source.
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