Magnesium is a mineral that is inching its way into the spotlight. About 50 percent of the magnesium in our bodies is located in our bone, and the other half is found inside our cells and tissues (1). So what’s the big deal? Well in addition to maintaining muscle and nerve function, regulating heart rhythm, bone health and supporting our immune system, it also helps control blood sugar levels, blood pressure, energy metabolism and protein synthesis (2). This means it may play a role in diseases like hypertension, diabetes and even cardiovascular disease, although more research is needed. It has even been shown to help individuals with asthma based on its anti-inflammatory and bronchodilating effects (3) and a recent animal study shows promise with regards to its memory boosting properties (4).
Despite all the benefits attributed to magnesium, the increase in processed and refined food intake in the United States has led to a decrease in magnesium consumption through the years. So how can you make sure you’re getting enough? The best sources of magnesium include leafy greens, nuts and unrefined grains, such as oatmeal. Meats, starches and milk include some magnesium but are not the best sources. For women over the age of 30 the recommended daily intake is 320mg/day and for men 420mg/day (1). Women, you can meet your requirements with 1 ounce of almonds (80mg), 1 cup frozen spinach (150mg), 1 cup oatmeal (55mg) and 1 cup of yogurt (45mg). Men add 3oz. of halibut (90mg) to this and you’ve met your daily requirements too.
- Magnesium: Available at: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=5776&page=190. Accessed: February 22, 2010.
- Magnesium. Available at: http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/magnesium.asp. Accessed: February 22, 2010.
- Bichara MD, Goldman RD. Magnesium for treatment of asthma in children. Can Fam Physician. 2009 Sep;55(9):887-9.
- Slutsky I, Abumaria N, Wu LJ, Huang C, Zhang L, Li B, Zhao X, Govindarajan A, Zhao MG, Zhuo M, Tonegawa S, Liu G. Enhancement of Learning and Memory by Elevating Brain Magnesium. Neuron. 2010 Jan 28;65(2):165-177.