2017-05-01 / OnCall

Managing Magnesium

Q: I recently heard that magnesium is important to our health but that we may not be getting enough of it. What role does magnesium play, and how much should I be consuming?

A: Magnesium is an important mineral as it is needed for more than 600 different chemical processes that occur within the body. You may not realize it, but it helps in the converting of food into energy, in the creation of protein, the movement in our muscles and the regulation of our central nervous system.

Some signs and health problems indicating that you may not be getting enough magnesium are:
• Poor heart health
• Muscle cramps
• Weakness
• Nausea
• Anxiety
• Tremors
• High blood pressure
• Type II diabetes
• Dizziness
• Fatigue
• Respiratory issues
• Poor memory and confusion

The recommended daily allowance of magnesium is between 240 and 420 mg. depending on age and gender, but most people ingest less than the recommended amount. While there are supplements and multivitamins that include magnesium on the market, it may be better to get it from the food you eat. Some foods that are a good source of magnesium include green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and Swiss chard; seeds like pumpkin, sunflower and sesame; nuts, especially cashews and almonds; and black beans, soybeans, squash, avocado and even dark chocolate.

Although you may eat a balanced diet, the following can deplete the magnesium you’re ingesting:
• Dark-colored soda
• Pastries, cakes, candy and other sweet foods
• Coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks
• Stress
• Medications such as diuretics, heart and asthma medicines, birth control pills or estrogen replacement therapy
• Alcoholic beverages

It’s difficult to overdose on magnesium since the kidneys flush out excess amounts, but taking a multivitamin that also contains iron, vitamin D3 and calcium will help you get a good balance of elements into your body.

Shane Newhouser, DO
Family Medicine
Geisinger Scenery Park

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