We may not hear about it as much as certain nutrients that get more airtime, but magnesium is a major mineral that’s key to many body processes such as muscle and nerve function and the regulation of our heart rate. As a cofactor for more than 300 enzyme systems, magnesium also plays a role in blood glucose management, blood pressure, hormone production, and energy production. It’s involved in building and maintaining strong bones. Because of its role in muscle and nerve function, making sure we get an adequate amount is also helpful for warding off muscle cramps and headaches and maintaining regular digestion.
Women need about 310 to 320 milligrams per day, depending on age, and men require about 400 to 420 milligrams per day. However, many people fall short, especially if they’re on a standard American diet of minimal vegetables lots of refined grain products. Some other things that can affect your magnesium needs are activity level, pregnancy, lactation, and certain health conditions and medications. Also, because levels tend to dip around your period, women need to be especially on top of covering their bases. Some common signs of a magnesium deficiency include low energy levels and muscle cramps. In more extreme cases, heart rate changes may occur.
I work on helping my clients find ways to work in foods that are naturally high in the nutrients they need rather than turning first to supplements. Some top food sources of magnesium to try are leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy products, and whole grains. It’s also often added to products like cereals and other fortified grain products as well as nondairy milks. Feeling overwhelmed by that target number? Spreading out your intake through the day makes it less intimidating. Try these easy, delicious ways to eat away your magnesium deficiency.