Magnesium is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body. We can’t live without it. Every time you move a muscle, every time your heart beats, every time a new cell is created in your body, magnesium is being used. It also plays a role in balancing electrolyte levels, bone structure, creating fuel energy for the body, creating vital enzymes and protecting our DNA from mutations. Interestingly, a recent Australian government study found that over one third of Australians may not be getting enough magnesium from their diets.
What happens if I don’t get enough magnesium?
Low magnesium levels may contribute to several health challenges, including:
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- Higher levels of perceived stress and anxiety
- General fatigue
- Impaired cognitive function
How can I make sure I get enough magnesium?
Eating a balanced diet is always the best way to ensure that you are getting enough magnesium. It is found in large amounts in foods like spinach, nuts and beans. Foods such as bread and rice are also relatively high in magnesium, however processed foods including white bread and white rice will have significantly lower levels of magnesium than their brown counterparts. Meat and fish are also great sources of magnesium.
Maintaining a balanced diet and ensuring your body is getting the right levels of nutrients can be difficult at times. This is where supplementation can be an effective way to ensure you are meeting your magnesium needs. Not all forms of magnesium are as easily absorbed as others. Magnesium citrate and magnesium amino acid chelate have been shown to be more easily absorbed by the body than many other forms.
Your absorption of magnesium is also affected by many factors. Those who suffer from gastrointestinal problems may find it more difficult to absorb magnesium. Absorption may also be inhibited by:
- High calcium intake
- High fibre diets
- High alcohol intake
- Certain medication
While intake of magnesium is one thing, excretion is another. As with many nutrients, your body must dispose of magnesium constantly. Your kidneys are the primary controllers of magnesium levels in the body, excreting magnesium through your urine. Magnesium is also lost through sweating and through your digestive system. During times of stress, magnesium levels tend to be lower as well, so it is important to ensure that your dietary intake is adequate during these times.