Magnesium - Deficiency and Benefits
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Magnesium - Deficiency and Benefits
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral found in the body and is very essential for good health. It is mostly found in the bones (around 50%), teeth, and red blood cells. The other half is largely found inside cells of body tissues and organs. Only 1% of magnesium is found in blood. The body takes magnesium from the diet and excretes the excess through urine and stool. A balanced diet contains, enough magnesium for the body's functional requirements.
Magnesium is organically connected with the calcium level in the body. Thus, a critical balance has to be achieved between calcium and magnesium to assure proper use of both minerals.
Benefits Of Magnesium
Magnesium is important to nearly every function and tissue of the body, from the heart to the bones - nearly everything. It is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.
- Magnesium is an essential element, which influences many enzymes needed for protein digestion, energy production and nerve/muscle message transmission.
- Magnesium helps with the formation of bones and teeth and assists in the absorption of calcium and potassium.
- Magnesium is also used to relax the muscles. It assists in cellular metabolism and the production of energy, in collaboration with enzyme activity.
- It is used for muscle tone of the heart and assists in controlling blood pressure.
- Together with vitamin B12, it may help prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones.
- It helps prevent depression, dizziness, reduces cholesterol levels, muscle twitching, and pre-menstral syndrome.
- It can help prevent the calcification of soft tissue and also prevent cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and certain forms of cancer.
- Magnesium assists the parathyroid gland to process vitamin D.
- Magnesium therapy has proved beneficial in treating bronchial asthma and migrane headaches.
- It helps support a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong.
- Magnesium helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is actively involed in protein synthesis. It helps in the bio-synthesis of collagen.
- It helps in the bio-synthesis of collagen.
- It assists in the aborption and metabolism of calcium, sodium, phosphorus and potassium.
- Magnesium is particularly important for maintaining a normal heart rhythm and is used by physicians to treat irregular heartbeat (arrythmia).
- Magnesium may also be beneficial for bladder problems in women.
Dietary Sources Of Magnesium
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach are good sources of magnesium because of their chlorophyll content. Magnesium is readily available in mostly all foods that form the basis of a healthful diet - whole grains, fruits, dark-green leafy vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Rich vegan sources include legumes such as beans and peas, nuts and seeds, tofu, soybean flour, almonds, cashew nuts, pumpkin, walnuts, and whole unrefined grains are also good sources of magnesium. Refinded grains are generally poor in magnesium. This is because, when white flour is refined and processed, the magnesium-rich germ and bran gets removed. Bread and flour made from whole grain wheat provides more magnesium than bread made from white refined flour.
Other good dietary sources of this mineral include peanuts, pistachio nuts, shredded wheat (dalia), bran, bananas, and baked potatoes (with skin), chocolate, and cocoa powder. Many herbs, spices also provide magnesium, such as coriander, dill seed, celery seed, sage, dried mustard, basil, fennel seed (saunf), cumin seed and poppy seed.
Tap water can also be a source of magnesium, but the amount varies depending on the water supply. Hard water contains more magnesium than soft water.
- Severe magnesium deficiency can result in low levels of calcium in the blood, termed as hypocalcemia.
- Type 2 diebetes is associated with low levels of magnesium in the blood. People suffering from ulcerative colitis may also have low magnesium levels.
- Magnesium levels tend to be low in people with chronic fatigue syndrome, and reduced levels of potassium in the blood (hypokalemia).
- Individuals with chronic mal-absorption problems such as Crohn's disease, gluten sensitve enteropathy and intestinal surgery may lose magnesium through diarrhea and fat malabsorption, and thus need supplemental magnesium.
Causes Of Magnesium Deficiency
- Along with a poor diet lacking in magnesium, absorption of magnesium by the body can be affected by causes such as dieting for weight loss; consumption of soft water, which lacks minerals; various intestinal diseases; chronic alcoholism.
- Large amounts of magnesium can be lost from the body due to prolonged and strenuous exercise, lactation, excessive sweating and chronic diarrhea.
- People who are using drugs like diuretics and cancer drugs are also prone to deficiency. Disorders of the kidney, an overactive thyroid or parathyroid gland, low blood levels of potassium and high urine levels of calcium are some other causes leading to magnesium deficiency in the body.
- Consumption of alcohol, diuretics, high levels of zinc in the body, consumption of high levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin D also increase the body's magnesium requirement.
Symptoms Of Magnesium Deficiency
Common symptoms of deficiency include:
- Anxiety, irritability
- Nausea and vomiting
- Numbness and tingling sensation in hands and feet
- Coronary artery spasms
- Gastro-intestinal problems including diarrhea
- Muscle spasticity
- Abnormal rhythmic palpitations of the heart
- Muscle contractions, even seizures
- Poor hair and nail growth
- Sudden death
Recommended Daily Dosage Of Magnesium
The recommended daily allowance is around:
- Males (below 30 years) - 400 mg per day
- Males (over 30 years) - 420 mg per day
- Females (below 30 years) - 310 mg per day
- Females (over 30 years) - 320 mg per day