Magnesium is the key to optimal health and proper biological function. Not only is the 4th most abundant mineral in our bodies, but there have been found over 3,750 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins in our bodies, too. In fact, over 300 enzymes rely on this nutrient for optimal function. This tells a lot about its importance for our biochemical processes, most of which are vital for pepper metabolic function. This includes:
- Proper formation of bones and teeth
- Regulation of blood sugar and insulin sensitivity
- Creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate)
- Relaxation of blood vessels
- Muscle and nerve function
Lack of Magnesium Can Trigger Serious Health Problems
Lack of cellular magnesium leads to deterioration of cellular metabolic function, which eventually causes some serious health issues. This includes anxiety and depression, migraine headaches, cardiovascular disease, sudden cardiac death, fibromyalgia, and death from all causes.
Magnesium is important to body`s detoxification processes as well, including the synthesis of glutathione. Ultimately, magnesium is needed for optimization of mitochondria, which is of utmost importance for cancer prevention and general athletic and energy performance.
The Importance of Magnesium for Mitochondrial Health
Mitochondria are organelles found within the cells. All organs need energy to function normally, and that energy, known as ATP, is mostly produced in the mitochondria.
Growing evidence suggests that most health problems stem from mitochondrial dysfunction, so getting the precursors and nutrients that the mitochondria needs is extremely important for the overall health, exercise performance, and disease prevention.
According to mitochondrial researcher Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D., magnesium plays an important role for mitochondrial health, primarily because the oxidative capacity depends on mitochondria`s ability to produce energy within the cells.
How Much Magnesium Do You Need?
About a century ago, people received nearly 500 mg of magnesium from daily diet, due to the nutrient-dense soil in which their food was grown. These days, people only get about 150-300 mg daily from dietary sources. The RDA is around 310-420 mg daily, depending on age and sex, while some researchers suggest taking as much as 600-900 mg for optimal health.
According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, the intestinal reaction can be used as a marker for the right dose. Start by taking 200 mg of magnesium citrate daily and gradually increase the dose until you experience loose stools. As for magnesium supplements, magnesium threonate is one of the best options. It is extremely effective in penetrating cell membranes, including the mitochondria and blood-brain barrier.
Risk Factors, Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Eating a heavily processed diet is the major risk for magnesium deficiency as magnesium resides in chlorophyll molecule. Eating leafy greens and other magnesium-dense foods once in a while means that you are not getting enough of it from your diet.
Magnesium is also lost through lack of sleep, prescription drug use (fluoride, statins, antibiotics), stress, and alcohol consumption. All of these factors affect a large percentage of Americans, so the fact that 50-80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium doesn’t come as surprise.
Some of the earliest signs of magnesium deficiency include muscle spasms, migraines, headaches, fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Chronic magnesium deficiency can lead to problems like seizures, numbness, tingling, abnormal heart rhythms, coronary spasms, and personality changes.
What Are the Foods High in Magnesium?
Eating dark-green leafy veggies is one of the best ways to boost your magnesium levels as well as to maintain healthy levels. Juicing these greens is a good way to get the most of them! The leafy greens with the highest amount of magnesium include
- Bok Choy
- Turnip Greens
- Collard Greens
- Beet Greens
- Swiss Chard
- Romaine Lettuce
- Brussel Sprouts
Other foods that are particularly rich in magnesium include:
- Raw cacao nibs and/or unsweetened cocoa powder
- Fruits and berries
- Seeds and nuts
- Herbs and spices (cumin, parsley, mustard seeds, fennel)
- Fatty fish
When Supplementing, Balance Your Magnesium with Calcium, Vitamin K2, and D
When one relies on supplements, it is important to understand how nutrients affect and interact with each other. For instance, it is of utmost importance to balance between magnesium, calcium, vitamin K2, and vitamin D. These nutrients work in synergy and any imbalance increases the risk of stroke, heart attacks, and vitamin D toxicity.
- The best ratio between magnesium and calcium is 1:1. Note that the need for supplemental magnesium might be two times greater than calcium given that you are likely to get more calcium from your diet
- According to Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, for every 1,000 IU’s of vitamin D you take, you may need from about 100 micrograms (mcg) of K2
- As for the vitamin D intake, get your vitamin D level tested twice annually to determine your personal dosage