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Magnesium: Do you need a supplement?


Magnesium: Do you need a supplement?


People are starting to talk more and more about magnesium. Magnesium is a trace mineral important for bone structure and formation, glucose metabolism, detoxification enzyme production, and muscle relaxation. It is estimated that 75% of Americans get inadequate amounts of magnesium. We do not need a lot of magnesium (420 mg per day for men and 320 mg per day for women), but the American diet tends to be low in foods that contain this important mineral.

How do you know if you are deficient in magnesium?

Unfortunately, there is not a simple blood test that can accurately assess total body magnesium status. The best way to assess magnesium deficiency is to have your doctor order a serum magnesium test. If your doctor suspects a deficiency, they can order a magnesium loading test. If you have restless leg syndrome, gastrointestinal problems (especially constipation), frequent muscle cramps, headaches, insomnia, alcohol abuse, or struggle to recover after intense physical activity, try adding 2-3 magnesium-rich foods in your diet each day. People who take proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) for acid reflux are prone to magnesium deficiency. Talk to your doctor about getting tested for a deficiency if you take a PPI.

What foods can you eat that are rich in magnesium?

Excellent sources:

  • Squash
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Kale
  • Quinoa
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Millet
  • Sesame seeds
  • Broccoli
  • Tempeh

Good Sources:

  • Swiss chard
  • Spinach
  • Buckwheat
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Black mission figs
  • Mustard greens
  • Halibut

Click here for more information and a complete list of magnesium-rich foods.

Getting the most magnesium out of your diet

Make a point to try and separate your calcium-rich and magnesium-rich foods. Calcium and magnesium use the same channels to enter the bloodstream. If you overload your digestive system with both, there is a good chance you will not absorb a lot of the magnesium.

Also, make a point to choose 2-3 servings of magnesium-rich foods per day. This isn’t hard: ¼ cup pumpkin seeds + 1 cup quinoa + spinach will do the trick.

Magnesium-rich foods are much better absorbed by the body than magnesium supplements. If you choose to take a supplement, pick magnesium aspartate, citrate, lactate, or chloride. These forms are best absorbed by the body. Also, avoid taking a supplement high in zinc along with your magnesium; the zinc can interfere with the magnesium absorption.

Quick tip: do you love pumpkin seeds? ¼ cup pumpkin seeds provides 250 mg of magnesium per day. It makes a great snack that is also rich in fiber and protein!

Want more information on magnesium and your diet? Check this out!