April 1, 2016

Are You Getting These Nutrients? - Part 5

Magnesium is a mineral that many people do not eat enough of - some estimate that 30-50% of Americans don't reach the 400 mg recommended by the FDA. Unfortunately, people on low-carb diets may fare even worse - in one study, 70% of those 8 weeks into the Atkins diet were not eating sufficient magnesium. Worse, people with diabetes who respond to low-carb diets may need magnesium even more than others, since it is important in glucose metabolism and blood sugar control. Other functions of magnesium include participating in protein synthesis, bone development and maintenance, DNA synthesis, and cell function.

Pumpkin Seeds - 1 oz kernels, roasted - 156 mg magnesium, 2 gm net carb 
Spinach (also chard), 1/2 cup cooked - 78 mg magnesium, 2 gm net carb
Soybeans (try black soybeans), 1/2 cup cooked - 74 mg magnesium, 3 gm net carb
Almonds, 1 oz - 77 mg magnesium, 3 gm net carb
Peanuts, 1 oz - 52 mg magnesium, 4 gm net carb
Flax seed, 1 tablespoon - 40 mg magnesium, scant carb
Also: legumes, fish, green vegetables, and yogurt

Every organ in the body, especially the heart, muscles, and kidneys, needs magnesium. This mineral also contributes to the makeup of teeth and bones. Magnesium activates enzymes, contributes to energy production, and helps regulate levels of calcium, copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients in the body.

You can get magnesium from many foods. However, most people in the U.S. probably do not get as much magnesium as they should from their diet. Foods rich in magnesium include whole grains, nuts, and green vegetables. Green leafy vegetables are particularly good sources of magnesium.

Although you may not get enough magnesium from your diet, it is rare to be deficient in magnesium. However, certain medical conditions can upset the body's magnesium balance. For example, an intestinal virus that causes vomiting or diarrhea can cause a temporary magnesium deficiency. Some health conditions can lead to deficiencies, including - gastrointestinal diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ulcerative colitis, diabetes, pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone levels), kidney disease, and taking diuretics

Other factors that can lower magnesium levels include - drinking too much coffee, soda, or alcohol, eating too much sodium (salt), heavy menstrual periods, excessive sweating, and prolonged stress.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include - agitation and anxiety, restless leg syndrome (RLS), sleep disorders, irritability, nausea and vomiting, abnormal heart rhythms, low blood pressure, confusion, muscle spasm and weakness, hyperventilation, insomnia, poor nail growth, and seizures

Many herbs, spices, and seaweeds supply magnesium, such as - agar seaweed, coriander, dill weed, celery seed, sage, dried mustard, basil, fennel seed, savory, cumin seed, tarragon, marjoram, and poppy seed.

Magnesium is available in many forms. Recommended forms include magnesium citrate, magnesium gluconate, and magnesium lactate, all of which are more easily absorbed into the body than other forms. Time-release preparations may improve absorption. Ask your doctor.

Other familiar sources are magnesium hydroxide (often used as a laxative or antacid) and magnesium sulfate (generally used orally as a laxative or in multivitamins, or added to a bath). Some magnesium, such as Epsom salts, can be absorbed through the skin. Preliminary research suggests Epsom salts can relieve swelling, inflammation, and ease muscle aches and pains.

Be sure to check with your health care provider before taking magnesium supplements and before giving them to a child. Under certain circumstances, such as certain heart arrhythmias or preeclampsia, a doctor will give magnesium by IV in the hospital.

It is a good idea to take a B-vitamin complex, or a multivitamin containing B vitamins, because the level of vitamin B6 in the body determines how much magnesium will be absorbed into the cells.

Dosages are based on the dietary reference intakes (DRIs) issued from the Food and Nutrition Board of the United States Government's Office of Dietary Supplements, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
  • Males, 19 to 30 years of age: 400 mg daily
  • Females, 19 to 30 years of age: 310 mg daily
  • Males, 31 years of age and over: 420 mg daily
  • Females, 31 years of age and over: 320 mg daily
  • Pregnant females, 19 to 30 years of age: 350 mg daily
  • Pregnant females, 31 and over: 360 mg daily
  • Breastfeeding females, 19 to 30 years of age: 310 mg daily
  • Breastfeeding females, 31 years of age and over: 320 mg daily

A person's need for magnesium increases during pregnancy, recovery from surgery and illnesses, and athletic training. Speak with your doctor.

Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you should only take dietary supplements under the supervision of a doctor.

Since magnesium is excreted by the kidneys, people with heart or kidney disease should not take magnesium supplements except under their doctors' supervision.

It is very rare to overdose on magnesium from food. However, people who ingest large amounts of milk of magnesia (as a laxative or antacid), Epsom salts (as a laxative or tonic), or magnesium supplements may overdose, especially if they have kidney problems. Too much magnesium can cause serious health problems, including – nausea, vomiting, severely lowered blood pressure, confusion, slowed heart rate, respiratory paralysis, deficiencies of other minerals, coma, cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, and death.

More common side effects from magnesium include upset stomach and diarrhea.

Magnesium competes with calcium for absorption and can cause a calcium deficiency if calcium levels are already low. Some medications may lower magnesium levels in the body. These include - chemotherapy drugs, diuretics, digoxin (Lanoxin), steroids, and certain antibiotics.

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