Does your eyelid keep twitching, or are you suffering from leg cramps? Take more magnesium, you’re always advised!
But what is magnesium, what does it do and how much should you be getting?
What is magnesium and what does it do?
Magnesium in a fairly common mineral in our bodies that helps us turn food into the kind of energy we can use.
“Every cell in your body contains (magnesium), and needs it to function,” explains nutrition expert and dietician Franziska Spritzler writing for healthline.com.
“One of magnesium’s main roles is acting as a cofactor or ‘helper molecule’ in the biochemical reactions continuously performed by enzymes. It helps create new proteins from amino acids; helps create and repair DNA and RNA; is part of the contraction and relaxation of muscles; and helps regulate neurotransmitters, which send messages throughout your brain and nervous system.”
“Magnesium also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm,“ explains a report by the US National Institutes of Health.
Research has specifically linked magnesium to:
• Depression – because magnesium is needed for optimal brain function and mood stability, low levels can be seen in some cases of depression.
• Type 2 diabetes – almost half of type 2 diabetics have low levels of magnesium. This makes it hard for the body to keep sugar levels stable.
• Lowers blood pressure – studies have shown that magnesium can lower blood pressure when it is elevated, but not when it is at normal levels.
• Inflammation – low levels of magnesium are linked to high levels of inflammation in the body, which in turn is associated with ageing, obesity and chronic diseases such as cancer.
Do you get enough magnesium?
While supplementing with magnesium is effective (no more than 400mg per day), you should be able to get all the magnesium you need from the foods that you eat.
These include wholewheat breads and grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, brown rice, fish, meat and dairy products. “Eating whole foods is always best. Magnesium can be lost during refinement and processing,” say doctors from the Mayo Clinic.
Many people suffer from low levels of magnesium, but according to WebMD, “severe magnesium deficiencies are rare. They’re more likely in people who have kidney disease, Crohn’s disease or other conditions that affect digestion, have parathyroid problems, take antibiotics or drugs for diabetes and cancer, are older adults and people who abuse alcohol.”
Risks of taking magnesium
There can be drug interaction between magnesium and other medications, especially diuretics, heart medicines, and a few antibiotics, so always check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting a supplement.
The Mayo Clinic lists signs of a magnesium overdose as nausea, diarrhoea, low blood pressure, low blood pressure, muscle weakness and fatigue, among others. And “at very high doses, magnesium can be fatal,” it warns.