Pop quiz time: What’s magnesium, and what does it do for you?
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If you’re like most, you can’t provide a reasonable answer to this relatively simple question. While magnesium is something of which most are vaguely aware, few can clearly articulate what the mineral is and the function that it serves in the human body. Surprisingly, despite the relative ignorance regarding magnesium, the ensuring presence of this mineral in proper amounts is very important to maintaining general well-being, as magnesium deficiency can have serious consequences.
Why Does This matter?
Magnesium has been dubbed the “most overlooked” mineral by popular TV doc Dr. Oz. Despite its lack of notoriety, there is generally quite a bit of magnesium in the human body, about 25 grams to be exact. Half of this magnesium is located in your bones.
Along with being a vital component in your skeleton, this mineral is also used in over 300 chemical reactions that occur within the body, a shockingly large number to most. With this many functions in your body requiring the use of this mineral, a deficiency can logically have a major effect on your overall health and wellbeing.
What Causes It?
Magnesium is found in many foods that you eat on a regular basis. When an individual suffers from magnesium deficiency, it often isn’t that they aren’t consuming enough magnesium, but instead that they are consuming something else that prevents their body from absorbing that magnesium. Dr. Danine Fruge, Associate Medical Director of the Printikin Longevity Center in Miami cautions that caffeinated beverages, soda and alcohol commonly inhibit magnesium absorption, so consuming much of any of these can lead to the development of a magnesium deficiency.
Surprisingly, it’s not just over consumption of these known-to-be-not-so-wonderful-for-you things that can lead to issues with magnesium levels; gulping down glass after glass of the world’s healthiest beverage, water, can also have similar effects. While water generally contains some minerals, magnesium being one of them, bottled or highly filtered waters commonly do not. With the elimination of this liquid magnesium source, you might find yourself wanting for this mineral.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Deficiency?
It is exceptionally easy to overlook a magnesium deficiency because the symptoms so closely mirror those associated with other maladies. People who lack magnesium often suffer from fatigue and weakness, common indicators of a host of medical issues. Similarly, they can experience mental health issues including anxiety and irritability.
Some people with magnesium deficiency also experience muscle cramping, particularly after engaging in strenuous exercise. Because magnesium plays a part in regulating blood vessel tone, individuals with magnesium deficiency can also be more prone to migraine headaches. Because these symptoms are so common, the best way to determine if you have a magnesium deficiency is to express your concern to your doctor and seek a blood test to check the levels of this mineral in your body.
What Can You Do About It?
If you’re lacking magnesium, you can make up for what you’re missing with two things: food and supplementation. Taking magnesium supplements is an easy and relatively error-proof way to get your magnesium levels back in check. When you take magnesium supplements, do so judiciously and while in consultation with a doctor. Exceeding more than 350 milligrams of supplemental magnesium can put you at risk for some serious side effects, including heart arrhythmia and death.
Depending on supplements as a one-step cure isn’t a good idea. You should also up your consumptions of foods that are rich in magnesium. Some of the most common foods that fall into this category include leafy greens, legumes and squash or pumpkin seeds. Trading your nightly snack of chips for a hand full of nuts could also have a positive impact, as nuts are high in magnesium. For protein-rich magnesium powerhouses, consume fish. Finish off your magnesium consumption makeover by trading your processed grains for whole grain options.