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by Alison Mitchell

Magnesium is an important mineral for nerve, muscle, vascular and immune health and is essential for the balance of other minerals in the body. Deficiency has been shown to be associated with several health conditions such as congestive heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, chronic pain syndromes and kidney stones.

A primary deficiency of magnesium is rare as the levels are generally well controlled by the kidneys. However a secondary deficiency can develop as a result of insufficient dietary intake, malabsorption or increased magnesium depletion. Symptoms of mild deficiency are common, affecting approximately 15-20% of the general population.

Although magnesium supplementation is traditionally used to correct or avoid a deficiency research has shown that supplementation can play a role in the management of several health conditions.

Symptoms of low magnesium levels

-Muscle spasms
-Cramps and twitches
-Hyper-irritability and excitability
-Muscular weakness
-Involuntary eye movements
-Nausea and vomiting
-Premenstrual tension Anorexia
-Reduced pain threshold
-Disturbance of heart rhythm

Risk factors for magnesium depletion

-Excessive intake of alcohol, salt, phosphoric acid (soft drinks) and caffeine
-Hyperaldosteronism, hyperparathyroidism with hypercalcaemia, hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus
-Profuse sweating
-Intense, prolonged stress
-Coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, malabsorption syndromes, partial bowel obstruction, vomiting/diarrhoea, pancreatitis, infections, parasitic infection
-Hyperthermia, phosphate depletion, potassium depletion, hyper catabolic states such as burns
-Pregnancy, lactation, excessive menstruation

Recommended Daily Intake
-400mg/day (men 19-30 years); 420mg/day (men >30 years)
-310mg/day (woman 19-30 years); 320mg/day (women >30 years)
-400mg/day (pregnancy < 18 years); 350mg/day (pregnancy >18 years)
-360mg/day (lactation < 18 years); 310mg/day (lactation > 18 years).

Sources of Magnesium

Animal Sources mg/100g
Shrimp 51
Cheddar cheese 45
Crab 34
Lean Beef 21
Lean lamb ??
Lean pork ??
Chicken 19

Grain Sources mg/100g
Wheat germ 336
Wheat bran 490
Buckwheat 229
Millet 162
Wheat grain 160
Brown rice 88
Barley 35

Beans and Vegetables mg/100g
Tofu 111
Beet greens 106
Spinach 88
Swiss chard 65
Collard leaves 57
Sweet corn 48
Parsley 41
Beans 37

Fruits mg/100g
Figs, dried 71
Apricots dried 62
Dates 58
Avocado 45
Prunes, dried 40
Raisins 35
Banana 33
Blackberry 30

Other mg/100g
Brewers yeast 231
Almonds 270
Cashews 267
Brazil nuts 225
Peanuts 175
Pecan 142
Walnuts 131

Side effects

Doses of greater than 350mg/day have been shown to have side effects of diarrhoea or gastric irritation.

Other Links: Are You Magnesium Deficient?

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