The importance of magnesium Magnesium is an essential mineral needed by the body for a host of vital functions. Are you getting enough magnesium, and how do you know if your intake is falling short? Here's the lowdown on this crucial mineral.
Why do we need magnesium?
Although many of us might not be aware what role magnesium plays in the body, it's actually a star-performer that keeps many human functions ticking along nicely. In fact, it's involved with a whopping 300 different enzyme reactions in the body and helps to keep the nerves and muscles in good working order.
Additionally, magnesium is key to supporting a healthy immune system and does its bit to regulate blood pressure. It's also a vital component of our bones and helps to maintain a regular heart rhythm.
Are you getting enough?
Magnesium deficiency is known as hypomagnesemia, and it's thought that around 2% of the population are affected. Yet, some reports suggest that up to 75% of people might not be getting the recommended daily amounts of magnesium they require. Because the signs of low magnesium are quite subtle, many cases go undiagnosed and it's often only when levels are extremely low that symptoms become more apparent. So, what should you be looking out for?
Signs of magnesium deficiency
Very early signs of low magnesium levels may cause a loss of appetite and nausea, but any of the following symptoms could suggest that your body is short of magnesium.
Fatigue and weakness
While fatigue is a generalised symptom and could be caused by a number of factors, it's often associated with low levels of magnesium. If you also suffer from muscle weakness, this makes the link between low magnesium stronger. Muscle weakness occurs because low magnesium reduces the amount of potassium in muscle cells, making them weaker.
Muscle cramps and twitches
Magnesium deficiency can encourage increased levels of calcium to flow into nerve cells, which overstimulates them, often resulting in muscle cramps, twitches and tremors. Magnesium also helps to relax muscles, so is often seen in those suffering from conditions such as restless legs syndrome. There may be other reasons for muscles to behave abnormally, so it's always worth getting things checked out with your GP if you're concerned.
Mental health problems
A lack of magnesium can manifest in a range of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and even delirium. This may be because magnesium plays such an important role in proper nerve functioning, that when levels are reduced, nerve dysfunction affecting the brain may occur. Low magnesium is also associated with increased headaches.
When magnesium levels are low, this can cause an imbalance in potassium levels in the heart cells, which can manifest in an irregular heartbeat. It's always important to see a doctor if you experience an arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, as there may be other causes apart from a magnesium deficiency, and if it isn't properly diagnosed and managed, the implications could be serious.
Magnesium plays a key role in the formation of bones, so when this mineral is lacking, it could increase the risk of the bone-thinning disease, osteoporosis. Some studies have shown that taking magnesium supplements may help to improve bone mineral density in those at risk of osteoporosis, such as post-menopausal women.
Are you at risk?
Most people are able to get the magnesium they need from their diet or through supplements. But, there are certain factors that put you at a higher risk of having a deficiency.
Type 2 diabetes
Diabetes can result in increased magnesium loss through urination, putting those with this condition at risk of suffering from a magnesium deficiency. Interestingly, those who consume diets high in magnesium are at a reduced risk of succumbing to diabetes in the first instance.
Those who suffer from gastrointestinal problems like coeliac disease or Crohn's disease often don't absorb magnesium efficiently, putting them at risk of having a deficiency in this mineral.
It tends to be the case that older adults are less able to absorb magnesium as well as younger ones. They're also prone to health conditions that can make magnesium absorption less efficient.
Certain medications may interfere with how well magnesium is absorbed by the body. Similarly, high doses of magnesium may affect how some medications work. Your GP can advise if this is an issue that may impact you.
People with chronic alcoholism are at an increased risk of experiencing magnesium deficiency, often because they tend to suffer from poor nutritional intake, reduced liver function and gastrointestinal problems.
Getting enough magnesium
Female adults up to the age of 30 are advised to take 310 mg of magnesium daily, while for men in this age group, the amount rises to 400 mg. Women over this age should consume 320 mg of magnesium each day, with men needing daily amounts of 420 mg. Children need around 80 - 240 mg of magnesium daily, depending on their age. Younger children require less magnesium than teenagers or adults. Magnesium requirements are higher for pregnant women.
Most people are able to get the magnesium they need from food, with rich sources including nuts, leafy green vegetables, beans, whole grains, cereals, fruit and yoghurt.
It's thought that you can improve how well your body absorbs magnesium by eating vegetables raw, rather than cooking them. Calcium can interfere with magnesium absorption, so you should avoid eating foods rich in calcium two hours before or after eating foods high in magnesium. Correcting a vitamin D deficiency and stopping smoking can also help to improve magnesium absorption.
If you think you may be suffering from low levels of magnesium, your GP can perform a blood test to check.
If you suffer from magnesium deficiency, or you want to make sure your levels are topped up to maintain good health, supplementation is a handy way to give you the peace of mind you need. Novomins magnesium gummies are easy to take, have a pleasant taste and are made from high-quality ingredients, ensuring you can remain in tip-top health.