What is magnesium good for?
What is magnesium good for?
When it comes to getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function, you’re probably familiar with the big ones, like iron, vitamins C and D, and calcium. You’ve probably also heard of magnesium, but you probably weren’t sure if it should really be a priority. Experts will quickly tell you that this is important.
According to New York-based Bianca Tamburello, RDN, a registered dietitian in New York City, magnesium plays an important role in many bodily functions, including regulating blood pressure and blood sugar, generating energy and maintaining optimal bone health. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough.
Why is magnesium important?
Although magnesium deficiency is not common in healthy individuals, you want to make sure you have the optimal amount. Research has shown that low magnesium intake can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation, heart disease, stroke, migraine headaches, asthma and colon cancer. According to Tamburello, getting enough magnesium is also important to help the body properly absorb calcium and potassium, two other important minerals.
Can you take too much magnesium?
It’s possible to get too much of a good thing, which is why it’s important to seek advice about your individual needs before you start taking it magnesium supplement, says Tamburello. Taking too much magnesium through supplements can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pain.
“Taking a magnesium supplement isn’t for everyone, so you should talk to your doctor before you start,” she says. While high levels of magnesium appear to have some beneficial effects—they’re linked to a reduced risk of osteoporosis and diabetes and a reduction in migraine symptoms (if your magnesium levels were low), Tamburello explains, there are risks to getting too much. It can be toxic, she says. According to National Institutes of Health, adults should not take more than 350 mg of magnesium supplements per day. In addition, Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that men over the age of 31 aim for 420 mg of magnesium per day through food alone or through food and a dietary supplement in combination.
“It is important to note that the daily magnesium supplement limit (350 mg) is lower than the total recommended daily intake of magnesium (420 mg from food, beverages and supplements),” explains Tamburello. “This is because the body reacts differently to the concentrated amounts of minerals and vitamins found in supplements.”
Can you get enough magnesium from food?
You can, especially if you eat magnesium-rich foods, including pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, salmon, almonds and almond butter, peanuts and peanut butter, raisins, and chickpeas, says Tamburello. Fruits like guavas, bananas and dried figs are also high in magnesium, as are vegetables including spinach and Swiss chard.
If you’ve confirmed with a health care professional that you need more magnesium, Tamburello recommends trying to raise your levels through food first, not supplements. Natural sources provide other key vitamins and minerals, as well as magnesium.
Bottom line: Talk to your doctor if you think you may be deficient in magnesium. Your doctor can help you determine if you can get back on track simply by adjusting your diet or if adding a dietary supplement might be beneficial.
Emilia Benton is a Houston-based freelance writer and editor. In addition to Women’s Health, she has contributed health, fitness, and wellness content to Runner’s World, SELF, Prevention, Healthline, and POPSUGAR, among other publications. She is also a ten-time marathon runner, a frequent traveler and a passionate amateur baker.