Magnesium is a very important mineral for the human body that can be consumed from different foods, medicines and supplements. This mineral is a major part of over 300 enzyme reactions in the human body. Its functions are helping with muscular activity, nerve function, maintaining blood pressure, and also enhancing the immune system. A normal adult body already has around 25 gram magnesium, most of which is stored in the skeletal system and the rest is in the muscles and soft tissues. One has to consume a balanced nutritious diet for the intake of all the vitamins and minerals in the correct amount, otherwise it can lead to a deficiency.
Some doctors may also try to find a connection between magnesium deficiency with several health problems so it is essential to consume it one way or the other. Some magnesium rich foods include almonds, cashews, spinach, sunflower seeds, legumes, etc. If an individual is not able to get enough magnesium through diet, then the doctor might tell you to take supplements for the same. To know more about this, Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Leena Saju, Division Head Dietetics, Artemis Hospitals, Gurgaon, about the best sources, health benefits, deficiency and side effects of magnesium.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps in many bodily functions. It plays a major role in various chemical reactions in your body and helps in maintaining good health as well. However, many people don’t take as much magnesium rich foods as they normally should. You can easily meet your daily needs by eating foods that contain high magnesium levels. There are a lot of healthy foods that are rich with this mineral. So, as per Dr. Leena, the best magnesium sources are:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Dark chocolate
- Nuts and seeds
- Peanut butter
Magnesium health benefits
Magnesium is one of the seven important macrominerals. These macrominerals that also includes zinc and iron are minerals that human body needs to have in huge amounts, i.e minimum 100 mg per day. Magnesium is vital for many bodily functions. Taking the right amount of magnesium can help in preventing as well as treating chronic health problems such as Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and even migraine. According to Nutritionist Dr. Leena, here are the main health benefits of consuming magnesium foods:
1. Maintains bone health
Along with calcium, magnesium also plays a major role in maintaining bone health. It contributes in healthy bone formation and improves bone density. You should include magnesium rich foods in your diet to enjoy this benefit. In fact, it can also reduce the risk of bone related health conditions like osteoporosis. Magnesium may improve bone health both directly and indirectly, as it basically helps to enhance calcium and vitamin D levels.
2. Immunity booster
Magnesium helps is making the immune system even more strong along with other bodily functions related to brain and muscles. It boosts your immunity, and by making your immunity stronger, magnesium rich foods help your body in fighting various diseases, infections and even preventing them.
3. Good for muscular activity
Magnesium is a mineral that is known for its muscular benefits. Magnesium plays the role of a natural calcium blocker, which further helps your muscle cells relax after contracting. When the magnesium levels in your body are low, your muscles may contract a lot, which may lead to muscle cramps. So, it is important to consume the right amount of magnesium daily on your diet.
4. Enhances metabolism
As mentioned above, this mineral is a major part of over 300 enzyme reactions in the human body and their regulation depends on magnesium intake. Therefore, it also contributes in enhancing your metabolism. Magnesium is an important mineral for the synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins, that help in metabolism.
Also read: Is It Safe To Take Magnesium When Pregnant?
5. Reduces depression
It is suggested to a depression patient to consume magnesium rich foods. Magnesium levels influence in nerve function and your mood as well. Low levels of magnesium can lead a huge risk of depression. In fact, having foods that are rich in this mineral can help in reducing the signs of depression. So, it also acts as a mood enhancer. Besides these, the other health benefits of magnesium include good cardiovascular health, prevents migraines and improves PMS signs.
Magnesium overdose risks
Intake of magnesium can have a major impact on your digestive system and intestines. Which is why too much magnesium can even cause vomitting and can lead to many other gastrointestinal problems. Therefore, it is important for an individual to not overlook any warning signs of excessive magnesium in the body. According to Dr. Leena, here are some of the most common risks of having too much magnesium rich foods:
Diarrhea is one of the symptoms of gastrointestinal problems. High levels of magnesium in the body can lead to diarrhea as it can disturb the whole digestive system. This mostly happens when you take an overdose through supplements. Therefore, one should take magnesium foods daily but as recommended by the dietician/nutritionist.
Along with diarrhea comes nausea as well. Though both of these symptoms might be temporary but can occur if you overconsume magnesium rich foods. People who have a damaged kidney function are at a higher risk of magnesium overdose.
3. Irregular heartbeat
One benefit of magnesium is that it enhances metabolism, but if consumed too much, the reaction can be opposite. Excessive amounts of magnesium can result in a high metabolic rate. This condition is called hypermetabolic state, which further leads to irregular heartbeat.
4. Low blood pressure
Regulating and controlling blood pressure is one of the major health benefits of magnesium. High blood pressure patients are often advised to take magnesium rich foods to reduce the blood pressure levels. But, excess magnesium can lead to low blood pressure. High magnesium levels can also lead to muscle weakness and confusion.
Many people fail to meet their daily recommended magnesium intake which leads to a deficiency. Usually, healthy people don't experience any Magnesium deficiency symptoms but can occur in rare cases. Magnesium deficiency is medically called hypomagnesemia. Dr. Leena said, an adult male can take 350 mg magnesium per day, while an adult female can have 310 mg, as approved by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Magnesium deficiency can also be caused by overconsumption of alcohol, certain medications, and some health conditions too. This deficiency is mostly seen in elder people. So, some basic symptoms of magnesium deficiency are:
- Loss of appetite
- Irregular heartbeat
- Muscle cramps
So, these were the sources, health benefits, deficiency and side effects of consuming magnesium by Dr. Leena Saju. You can take a nutritionist's guidance on the magnesium intake suitable for your body. And, one should visit the doctor if they experience any symptoms of high or low magnesium levels in the body. You should have the needed amount of magnesium rich foods everyday. However, a magnesium overdose is unlikely through diet but can happen due to magnesium supplements or medications. So, take a balanced diet to enjoy health benefits of all the essential nutrients, instead of overconsuming one of them.
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