Magnesium – Should You Be Taking a Supplement?
Magnesium chloride is a trace mineral that is found naturally in foods, and which is needed by the body for good bone development and for heart health. A magnesium deficiency is linked to a number of diseases and conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.
You can add magnesium rich foods to your diet to ensure you don’t have a deficiency, or take supplements if needed. Before you decide to do that, however, let’s take a closer look at this nutrient, why it’s so important, and how to add more foods with magnesium to your diet.
1. What does magnesium do?
Magnesium benefits the bone development of the body, as it’s one of the building blocks of bones. You may think of calcium when you think of bone structure and strength, but calcium is just one important mineral that makes up the body’s bones.
Other benefits include strong heart health. It’s thought that magnesium may help with strengthening the arteries the same way it does the bones, so the heart doesn’t need to work as hard to push blood through the circulatory system. This can also lower your cholesterol levels, as cholesterol will then also move through the arteries and not result in plaque buildup. In turn, you may lower your risk of heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, and stroke when you eat foods high in magnesium or take supplements.
This mineral may also help to strengthen and then also relax muscles, which is needed for heart health, since the heart is a muscle. Relaxing the muscles with magnesium can also calm anxiety. You might take this mineral as a supplement for anxiety or use it as a sleep aid, as relaxed muscles can mean being able to sleep through the night versus tossing and turning. If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night, this can be from your muscles becoming tense as you sleep, and more magnesium chloride in your diet can help.
2. What are some magnesium rich foods?
When you think of magnesium, think of fiber, as ths mineral is found in foods with lots of fiber content. Whole grains are a source of magnesium, and another reason to add complex carbohydrates to your diet. Dark leafy greens are also high in this mineral, so add more salads to your diet, and have a salad with a piece of whole grain bread for a magnesium rich lunch!
Other vegetables that contain this vital element include broccoli and squash. Legumes of all sorts are foods high in magnesium, as well as seeds and nuts, and especially almonds. You already have plenty of other reasons to switch to almond milk versus dairy milk, so consider the benefits of those almonds and make the change before breakfast tomorrow!
Meat and coffee are also considered magnesium rich foods. Of course, you’ll want to weigh the benefits of avoiding a deficiency with any other health risks associated with eating meat and drinking coffee with caffeine. Meat can be difficult to digest and is typically full of unhealthy fats, and of course caffeine can interfere with healthy sleep and cause anxiety and other health concerns.
3. When should you be worried about a deficiency?
A magnesium deficiency is not uncommon for women especially, as they may not eat as much meat or as many complex carbohydrates as men. While only your doctor can tell you if you have a deficiency, symptoms of not having enough of ths mneral in the body include osteoporosis and other bone conditions.
Clogged arteries may also be a sign of needing more foods high in magnesium in the diet. A stroke may also result from a deficiency, as does high blood pressure.
Of course, all these conditions can be caused by other factors, so don’t assume that eating more leafy greens is enough to reduce your risk of clogged arteries or a stroke. Always listen to your doctor’s advice when it comes to deficiencies you may have for any vitamin, trace mineral, or other such nutrient.
4. When should you take supplements?
Since women often have a magnesium deficiency, it may be good for women especially to take a multivitamin with other trace minerals they typically need, including calcium and iron. Those who don’t each foods high in magnesium, including those leafy greens, complex carbs, and nuts and seeds may also want to think of taking supplements. Since more and more people today are following pescetarian (only fish for meat), vegetarian, and vegan diets, you may want to think about the supplements if you go without beef, pork, and other meats.
You may also want to take supplements if you tend to have anxiety, and especially if you feel anxious and tense at night when it’s time to get to sleep. Your muscles may simply be having a hard time relaxing due to your magnesium deficiency, and a supplement might help.
Also, elderly persons may not be able to metabolize and absorb magnesium easily, and they are often prone to a deficiency. They, too, may want to consider a supplement that includes magnesium and the other vitamins and trace minerals they need to stay healthy in their old age.
5. How much is too much?
Adult women are recommended to have about 310-320 mg of magnesium every day; men are recommended to have 400-420 mg. Those who have asthma, high blood pressure, or digestive problems may be recommended to take 100 mg per day more than their recommended dosage. For those who have clogged arteries or a magnesium deficiency due to inability to metabolize this nutrient, such as for the elderly, a dosage of up to 800 mg per day is often recommended.
One word of caution; never take more than the recommended amount even if you have a medical condition such as high blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about a potential magnesium deficiency and if you should be taking supplements, and if you need medication for other conditions including asthma, anxiety, and the like. He or she can and should monitor your condition even if you’re taking supplements and have these conditions under control.