The mineral magnesium has many important roles to play in keeping the human body healthy. For instance, it keeps your blood pressure balanced, bones strong and the rhythm of the heart stable. And you can get it by consuming a balanced diet.
Why We Need Magnesium
The thing about this essential mineral is that it can be hard to figure out how much you are getting through food. That’s why, sometimes, you might need a supplement to maintain the levels and avoid diseases that are caused by magnesium deficiency. Here’s what you need to know about this essential mineral.
Benefits Of Magnesium
Magnesium serves different parts of the body, like bones, muscles, nerves and the stomach. Here’s what it does specifically to keep you healthy.
Magnesium neutralizes the acids in your stomach and makes sure that the stool moves through your intestine the way it should. That’s why it is used as an antacid to reduce heartburn.
And this is also why it is used in medication for constipation. In short, it plays the role of a laxative. Magnesium is also an important part of certain medical procedures that prepare your bowel before the surgery.
Apart from being an antacid, magnesium, especially magnesium hydroxide, can be useful in reducing symptoms of indigestion when it is taken by mouth.
Women who have eclampsia, a condition that causes seizures, are often treated with magnesium, which is given to them as a shot or through the IV. This treatment can also reduce the risk of such seizures in the future.
Pregnant women can also benefit from magnesium in case they have a condition called pre-eclampsia, which shows itself in the form of protein in the urine. It is also applicable to those who have high blood pressure while pregnant.
In this case too, magnesium is administered through a shot or by IV. However, if magnesium is taken orally, it does not reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia.
Magnesium is important when it comes to the functioning of the brain. Studies have shown that low levels of magnesium have a connection to an increase in the risk of depression.
There is also some evidence to show that if there is a deficiency of magnesium in your food, your risk of mental illnesses increases. But there isn’t enough evidence to follow this as a form of treatment.
But supplements are prescribed from time to time to help individuals with depression. Some results are said to have been rather dramatic.
Foods With Magnesium
Unlike other popular essential nutrients, it is a little hard to remember which foods have magnesium simply because this is not a widely discussed nutrient.
The best way to remember foods that are rich in magnesium is to look at those that are rich in fiber. They usually have a healthy chunk of magnesium in them. Those sources are:
- Whole grains
- Leafy vegetables
- Nuts like almonds
- Dairy products
Water, especially hard water, which has a lot of mineral content, can also help. And certain fortified breakfast cereals also contain a good deal of magnesium because manufacturers add it.
Daily Recommended Dose Of Magnesium
The Food and Nutrition Board or FNB has intake recommendations for magnesium and it is given in terms of Dietary Reference Intakes or DRIs. Now, as you would expect, these values are different for people in different age groups and sex. But here’s what you need to go by.
Almost all healthy individuals need to plan their dietary intake of magnesium. The Recommended Dietary Allowance or RDA is the average amount of magnesium you must consume every day. Here’s what that looks like:
- 0 to 6 months in female and male infants is 30 mg.
- 7 to 12 months in females and males is 75 mg.
- 1 to 3 years in girls and boys is 80 mg.
- 4 to 8 years in girls and boys is 130 mg.
- 9 to 13 years in girls and boys is 240 mg.
- 14 to 18 years in girls is 360 mg and boys is 410 mg.
- 19 to 30 years in women is 310 mg and men is 400 mg.
- 31 to 50 years in women is 320 mg and men is 420 mg.
- Women older than 51 years is 320 mg and men is 420 mg.
- 14 to 18 years of age is 400 mg.
- 19 to 30 years is 350 mg.
- 31 to 50 years is 360 mg.
- 14 to 18 years is 360 mg.
- 19 to 30 years is 310 mg.
- 31 to 50 years is 320 mg.
Precautions When Taking Magnesium
If you have preexisting medical conditions or are pregnant, you need to consult your physician. But here are some things to keep in mind.
- Magnesium is mostly safe for pregnant and lactating women when taken by mouth and the dosage is less than 350 mg every day. When it is injected or given through IV, it should be done only by prescription and 5 days before the delivery unless there are special circumstances in the hospital. When these precautions are not taken, it might cause damage to the baby.
- In general, it is safe for children when they take it by mouth and when prescribed by a doctor and done right.
- Those who abuse alcohol are at a greater risk of magnesium deficiency. That’s also possibly why alcohol is a depressant.
- Those who have any kind of bleeding disorders should be wary of taking magnesium because it slows down the clotting of blood.
- Those who have diabetes are also at a greater risk of having a deficiency because the condition affects the body’s ability to absorb magnesium effectively.
- When magnesium is administered by IV, a high dose is not good for those who have a heart block.
- Those who have kidney problems struggle with clearing the body of magnesium. So, excess intake can cause problems.
Side Effects Of Magnesium
A dosage of less than 350 mg on a daily basis is quite safe in most healthy adults. But it might cause problems if it is more than that. You might experience:
- Stomach upset
Large doses can have side effects like:
- Low blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Slowed breathing
The bottom line here is that while it’s an incredibly useful and essential mineral to the body, you don’t want to take matters into your own hands. Make sure you have a balanced diet and if it doesn’t seem enough or you have any doubts, consult your physician.