Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps support several bodily functions. For example, it improves muscle and nerve health, regulates blood pressure and blood sugar levels and aids in producing protein, bone and DNA. Having said that, it is crucial to ensure you're getting your daily dose of magnesium to maintain overall health. But how do you know whether you have sufficient magnesium levels in your body? Nutritionist Saloni Jhaveri from Conscious Food, Mumbai, shares some warning signs to help you figure out.
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Warning Signs Of Low Magnesium Levels In The Body
Here are some of the common symptoms of magnesium deficiency:
- Muscle cramps and spasms - can occur anywhere - the arms, legs, and face.
- Fatigue, weakness and a general feeling of low energy
- Irregular heartbeat
- Nervous system symptoms such as numbness and tingling, muscle tremors, seizures, mood changes, and even anxiety and depression
- Bone health issues - such as early osteopenia, poor bone density
- High blood pressure
- Migraine headaches
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or abdominal cramping
- Abnormal heart rhythm in infants
Foods High In Magnesium
Suppose you're suffering from or suspect low magnesium levels in the body. In that case, consulting a healthcare professional for proper evaluation, diagnosis, and appropriate treatment is of utmost importance, says nutritionist Saloni Jhaveri.
"Dietary changes may be recommended to restore magnesium levels to normal. However, it's important not to self-diagnose or self-treat, as taking too much magnesium can also have negative health effects. Always consult with a healthcare professional for proper medical advice," she adds.
You can always resort to healthy and natural sources of magnesium. Here are some foods that are high in the mineral:
Leafy green vegetables
Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and other dark green leafy vegetables are excellent sources of magnesium. They also contain additional vital nutrients like fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Nuts and seeds
Almonds, cashews, peanuts, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds are good sources of magnesium. They can be eaten as snacks, added to trail mixes, or used as toppings for salads, yoghurt, or other dishes.
Brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread are examples of whole grains that are high in magnesium. These grains can be incorporated into side dishes, main courses, or breakfast options.
Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas are legumes rich in magnesium. They can be used in soups, stews, salads, or as primary protein sources in vegetarian or plant-based meals.
Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, and cheese contain magnesium.
Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content can be a tasty source of magnesium. Choose dark chocolate with minimal added sugars and enjoy it in moderation.
Bananas are a fruit that contains magnesium, along with other beneficial nutrients like potassium and fibre. So they make for a convenient and healthy snack.
Avocado is a nutrient-dense fruit that is a good source of magnesium and healthy fats, and fibre. It can be added to salads and sandwiches or used as a spread or dip.
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Should You Supplement Magnesium?
Supplementation helps in complimenting a healthy diet without any intention to replace foods. It usually comes in tablets, capsules, gummies, and powders. Jhaveri says, “Magnesium supplementation is essential in certain situations, depending on your health status, diet, and other factors.” While most people can meet their magnesium needs through a healthy and a balanced diet, some may require supplementation, as recommended by healthcare providers. Certain cases include:
- A person diagnosed with magnesium deficiency, confirmed by blood tests
- Medical conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders (for example, Crohn's disease), kidney disease, or uncontrolled diabetes, which may affect magnesium absorption or increase magnesium loss
- Some medications, such as certain diuretics, may increase urinary excretion of magnesium, leading to potential magnesium deficiency
- Pregnant and lactating women may have increased magnesium requirements to support maternal and foetal health
- Those engaging in intense physical activity may need increased magnesium due to loss through sweat and urine and increased muscle demand
- Those on restricted diets or specific dietary restrictions (such as vegans or vegetarians) that may result in lower magnesium intake
Magnesium supplementation should always be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Taking too much of magnesium can have side effects, such as diarrhoea and nausea. It can also lead to drug interaction, meaning a reaction between two or more drugs or a drug and a food. Having said that, a healthy and balanced diet that includes magnesium-rich foods and a healthy lifestyle can provide adequate magnesium for most individuals.