Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body with a slew of functions from muscle contraction to immune system regulation to maintaining a healthy heart. When we have low magnesium levels we are at an increased risk for muscle weakness, irritability, irregular heartbeats, and heart disease.
Magnesium is abundant in a wide range of foods. The body regulates the amount of magnesium it holds on to very carefully by releasing any excess magnesium in our urine as needed. If you are unable to consume enough foods high in magnesium or are taking certain medications that prevent you from storing enough magnesium in your body, your doctor may recommend magnesium supplements. Magnesium supplements are also sometimes provided to help regulate abnormal heart beats in those with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) or atrial fibrillation (AFib). Supplements may be given orally or provided intravenously, via IV, for those in need.
The need of adequate magnesium for regulating our heartbeat is widely accepted however using magnesium for the treatment of high blood pressure has long been debated. The latest studies show, a small, but significant, link between getting adequate magnesium in our diets and having a healthy blood pressure.
How much Magnesium?
The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) develops Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), which are broken down into Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), Adequate Intake (AI), and Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL).
We use these established DRIs to know how much of a nutrient to include in our diet daily for optimal health.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium for adults over the age of 31 years is 420mg for males and 320mg for females.
Food sources of magnesium are not of concern for toxicity as the mineral content from these foods is easily excreted in the urine. However, those taking magnesium supplements in any form should be aware that the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is 350mg for both males and females over the age of 19 years.
Too little magnesium?
The body does a relatively good job keeping our levels of magnesium at the needed levels. However, chronic low intake of magnesium, excess amount of coffee or alcohol, or certain health conditions may lead to a low magnesium level. Low magnesium levels have been shown to lead to personality changes, vomiting, fatigue, appetite loss, muscle cramps, numbness, and abnormal heart rhythms.
Too much magnesium?
The dangers of too much magnesium lie only with those taking magnesium supplements. Excess magnesium in this form often has a laxative effect leading to diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and nausea. Very large doses of magnesium laxatives and antacids has been linked to magnesium toxicity. Taking magnesium supplements with food may decrease this risk of adverse effects.
How to include magnesium every day
Obtaining needed nutrients in your diet is always preferable to supplements. Luckily, magnesium-rich foods are easy to find and delicious!
- Yellowtail fish
- Roasted turkey
- Swiss cheese
- Nonfat, vanilla yogurt
- Low-fat milk
- Chicken noodle soup
- Split pea soup (reduced sodium)
- Marinara sauce
- Pumpkin seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Light tortilla chips
- Brown rice
- Cooked spinach
- Sundried tomatoes
- Lima beans
- Acorn squash
Most of us consume adequate amounts of magnesium throughout our diet. Be aware if supplementing with Magnesium, toxicity is possible! Magnesium is just one key nutrient you want use to improve blood pressure levels.