Magnesium helps promote energy, sleep, and blood sugar and hormone balance.
When you think of magnesium, what probably springs to mind are eye twitches and muscle cramps, or perhaps a high school science experiment. But this mineral is actually vital for many processes in the body.
Thankfully, we can obtain magnesium through our diets, specifically by eating loads of plant foods — including dark chocolate.
Why do I need magnesium? “Magnesium is a mineral that our bodies rely on to feel fit, healthy and full of vitality,” nutritionist Fiona Tuck told HuffPost Australia.”This mineral is an important one, being that it is a co-factor for hundreds of enzyme reactions within the body. These enzymes are vital for a variety of important processes such as the conversion of energy from carbohydrates, fats and protein, not to mention healthy DNA synthesis, blood sugar balance, bone health and a calm nervous system.”
Magnesium is also required for “formation of bones, muscle contractions and blood pressure regulation”, accredited practising dietitian Alexandra Parker explained.
“Magnesium is also thought to play a role in sleep by improving our sleep quality. On average, men require around 400mg of magnesium per day and women need around 300mg per day.”
What happens when I’m magnesium deficient? According to accredited practising dietitian Anna Debenham, magnesium deficiency is not overly common in otherwise healthy people.
“In the short-term, low intakes of magnesium won’t actually result in any noticeable symptoms as our kidneys conserve magnesium when intakes are low,” Debenham told HuffPost Australia. “However, low intakes over extended periods can lead you to become deficient.”
When this occurs, we can experience an array of negative symptoms, mostly to do with energy levels.
“Magnesium is involved in helping to regulate calcium, vitamin D, blood sugar and hormonal balance, so there is little surprise to learn that low magnesium levels can lead to chronic fatigue-type symptoms, low mood, anxiety, eye tics, insomnia, high blood pressure, muscle cramps (which can be due to low calcium too) and a poor tolerance to dealing with stress,” Tuck said.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include: Loss of appetite / Nausea / Vomiting / Fatigue / Weakness / Abnormal heart rhythms / Numbness or tingling / Muscle contractions and cramps
“When our magnesium levels are low, we can start craving stimulants such as coffee to boost our energy, or chocolate which is a natural source of magnesium (but not the sickly sweet milk chocolate commonly found in the confectionery aisle).”
Which foods contain magnesium? “Magnesium is found in a variety of foods, but the best sources tend to be green leafy vegetables, raw cacao, nuts and seeds,” Tuck said. “Include magnesium-rich foods at every meal to help boost magnesium. Aim to include at least two servings of vegetables with every meal and a couple of pieces of fruit daily. Reduce sugar, alcohol and processed foods to help up your magnesium intake
Lotta Lennartsson – APD