Nutrient In Focus: Magnesium

Magnesium is an often spoken about mineral that is involved in about 300 chemical reactions in the body. Protein break down and absorption, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation involves magnesium. You could say, it’s pretty important.

Most cases of magnesium deficiency are undiagnosed due to difficulty in accurately detecting levels. The typical analytics (blood and urine samples) don’t provide an accurate representation of magnesium levels due to the way it is stored. However it is estimated that 10-30% of the population in developed countries are deficient, with more than 1 in 3 Australians aren’t meeting the recommended intake.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency 

Magnesium deficiency can cause:

It might be involved in:

Sources of magnesium

Magnesium is available in various foods. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are good sources. In general, foods containing dietary fibre provide magnesium.  Other sources include:

Some types of food processing, such as refining grains in ways that remove the nutrient-rich germ and bran, lower the magnesium content.

Interactions with other nutrients

If you are vitamin D deficient, it’s important to review magnesium consumption as it is required for the absorption of vitamin D . Magnesium helps our body absorb and retain calcium but too much calcium prevents magnesium from being absorbed. So taking large amounts of calcium without adequate magnesium may create a deficiency. While zinc enables the body to absorb magnesium more efficiently, it will hinder absorption when taken in extremely high doses.

Causes of magnesium deficiency

The majority of people are at risk of deficiency due to chronic diseases, medications, decreased magnesium in crops, and the increased availability of refined and processed foods. In the last 100 years, it’s estimated the mineral content of vegetables has declined by 80–90%.

If you have a high fat diet, you might absorb less magnesium from your food.

People with digestive issues such as IBS or IBD is at a higher risk of deficiency as magnesium is absorbed starts in the digestive system. 

Supplementation options

Magnesium is available in many different forms such as magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide. Magnesium supplements can be consumed via IV or injection, powders, capsules, salt flakes and oil. Various medications are known to interact with magnesium supplements so please consult with a health care professional before taking supplements to ensure the supplement is right for you.

Therapeutic uses

Magnesium supplementation has been found to be an effective treatment for premenstrual symptoms such as headaches, sugar cravings, low blood sugar and dizziness associated with PMS.

Magnesium has also been found to relieve of constipation, indigestion, asthma, nerve pain in people with cancer, cluster headaches, and treat a certain type of irregular heartbeat. It has also been shown to reduce symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia

What you really need to know

1. Most people are at risk of magnesium deficiency or are deficient.

2. Magnesium deficiency has a wide variety of signs and symptoms as magnesium is involved in many processes in the body.

3. Various magnesium supplements are available. Please consult with a health care professional before taking supplements to ensure the supplement is right for you.