Updated: Oct 24, 2018
This is the first in a series of posts detailing everything you need to know about magnesium: what it does, where it come from, why it is in different forms, and how you can best incorporate it into your life!
Today we're focusing on the whole foods origins of magnesium!
Why do we need magnesium?
Magnesium is a critical mineral in our bodies that is "a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium is required for energy production, oxidative phosphorylation, and glycolysis. It contributes to the structural development of bone and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione. Magnesium also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm." (Rude 2010/2012).
Due to the integrated nature of this mineral into a multitude of functions within our bodies, deficiencies can present in a number of ways. It tends to present in the initial stages as loss of appetite, fatigue, and weakness. As it develops, more serious symptoms such as muscles contractions/cramps and numbness/tingling in extremities can occur. A common sensation know as "restless leg syndrome", which is a feeling of discomfort in the legs when they are sedentary (such as when you go to sleep or sit for extended periods of time), can be caused by magnesium deficiency.
So where can you get it from? Whole foods are always the best choice. From nuts and seeds to dark leafy greens, here are some of our favourite options:
Whole Food Sources of Magnesium
1. Dark Chocolate - 64mg per ounce
2. Avocados - 58mg in one medium avocado
3. Cashews - 82mg per ounce
4. Brazil Nuts - 107mg per ounce
5. Black Beans - 120mg per cup (cooked)
6. Pumpkin Seeds - 150mg per ounce
7. Buckwheat - 65mg per ounce (uncooked)
8. Banana - 37mg in one large banana
9. Spinach - 157mg per cup (cooked)
10. Salmon - 54mg per serving (200 grams)
These are just a few of the many options to try and hit your RDI (recommended daily intake) of magnesium, which is approximately 320 mg/day for women and 420 mg/day for men. Adjusting for body type, activity level, and quality of food absorption will also be important in finding your ideal magnesium intake.
Thanks for reading! Part 2 of magnesium will look at the different types of supplements that are available when whole foods are not.
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Institute of Medicine (IOM). Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.
Rude RK. Magnesium. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, Cragg GM, Levine M, Moss J, White JD, eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Informa Healthcare; 2010:527-37.
Rude RK. Magnesium. In: Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, Tucker KL, Ziegler TR, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 11th ed. Baltimore, Mass: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:159-75.