WHAT IS MAGNESIUM?
Magnesium is one of the seven macrominerals that your body needs to survive. It has many roles in the body which include supporting healthy bone growth and helping your muscle tissues and nerves to function properly. In this post I am going to take an in depth look at magnesium and the importance of it to your health.
WHEN WAS MAGNESIUM DISCOVERED?
The history of magnesium dates back to 1618 when the town of Epsom in England was suffering from a severe drought. A local farmer named Henry Wicker noticed that his cows refused to drink from one of the town’s wells, despite being very thirsty. He tasted the water and noticed that it was very bitter. However, he also noticed that the water was effective at healing cuts and scratches. The salts in this water became known as ‘Epsom Salts’ and quickly gathered fame for their ability to soothe the body.
As ‘Epsom Salts’ became increasingly famous chemists and scientists started to study them in more detail. In 1755 Joseph Black discovered that ‘Epsom Salts’ were actually the chemical compound magnesium sulphate and in doing so was the first person to recognise magnesium as an element. Despite being the first person to recognise magnesium, Joseph Black never managed to isolate it. In 1808 Sir Humphry Davy made the breakthrough and isolated magnesium by passing an electric current through melted magnesium oxide. This caused the compound to break into its two part; magnesium and oxygen.
HOW DOES YOUR BODY USE MAGNESIUM?
Magnesium represents approximately 0.05% of an average adult’s bodyweight. Around 60% of this magnesium is found in the bones and teeth, with the remaining 40% found in the muscles and soft tissues. A very small amount of is also found in the blood. Magnesium is required for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and also supports the cells in other ways. Some of its main functions include:
– Assisting in the metabolism of the macronutrients and some of the micronutrients including calcium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and vitamin C.
– Helping the muscles and nerves relax.
– Promoting proper blood circulation.
– Protecting your body from health conditions including diabetes and heart disease.
– Supporting healthy bone growth.
HOW MUCH MAGNESIUM DO YOU NEED?
Our requirement for magnesium generally increases with age, although it does reduce slightly following our teenage years. This article from WHFoods suggests the following recommended daily allowances (RDAs):
– Children aged 0-6 months:- 30mg.
– Children aged 7-12 months:- 75mg.
– Children aged 1-3 years:- 80mg.
– Children aged 4-8 years:- 130mg.
– Children aged 9-13 years:- 240mg.
– Men aged 14-18 years:- 410mg.
– Men aged 19-30 years:- 400mg.
– Men aged 31 years and over:- 420mg.
– Women aged 14-18 years:- 360mg.
– Women aged 19-30 years:- 310mg.
– Women aged 31 years and over:- 320mg.
– Pregnant women aged 18 years or younger:- 400mg.
– Pregnant women aged 19-30 years:- 350mg.
– Pregnant women aged 31 years and over:- 360mg.
– Lactating women aged 18 years or younger:- 360mg.
– Lactating women aged 19-30 years:- 310mg.
– Pregnant women aged 31 years and over:- 320mg.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN MAGNESIUM?
Green leafy vegetables are one of the best magnesium sources. Legumes, nuts, and seeds are also rich in magnesium. The list below highlights some of the best natural sources of this micronutrient:
– Almonds:- 279mg per 100g.
– Black Beans:- 70mg per 100g.
– Brazil Nuts:- 229mg per 100g.
– Pumpkin Seeds:- 539mg per 100g.
– Spinach:- 87mg per 100g.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GETTING TOO MUCH MAGNESIUM?
It is very difficult to overdose on magnesium from diet alone. However, if excessive levels of magnesium supplements are taken (1000mg per day and over) they can cause the following negative symptoms:
– Muscle Weakness.
– Stomach Cramps.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF NOT GETTING ENOUGH MAGNESIUM?
Failing to consume adequate dietary levels of magnesium is the most common cause of deficiency. However, there are other factors that can deplete the magnesium levels in your body. Problems with your digestive tract can prevent you from properly absorbing the magnesium you consume. Alcohol abuse, diabetes and kidney problems can also lead to excessive loss of magnesium in the urine. On top of this chronic diarrhea or vomiting can remove magnesium from your body.
Since magnesium is used in many different areas of the body, the symptoms of deficiency can vary quite significantly. Some of the main symptoms include:
– Low levels of calcium and potassium in the blood.
– Muscle Cramps.
– Poor Appetite.
– Rapid Heartbeat.
Magnesium is a highly important macromineral that is used in many different areas of the body. I hope this article has given you a better understanding of this nutrient. If you are not currently getting enough magnesium in your diet make sure that you start eating some of the foods listed on a regular basis. Not only will it promote optimal health but it may also protect you from a number of diseases.
Now I want to hear from you. Do you get enough magnesium? Have you ever experienced any of the deficiency symptoms? Let me know by leaving a comment.
Function of Magnesium (Hubpages)
Magnesium (Chemistry Explained)
Magnesium (Internet Health Library)
Magnesium (Office of Dietary Supplements)
Magnesium (Vaughn’s Summaries)