Here’s the short summary about why you would care about being magnesium deficient, if you are mainly concerned about weight loss, and not health in general:
Adequate magnesium intake reduces stress, balances blood sugar, and seems to help prevent metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes. About half of the general US population is magnesium deficient – having metabolic syndrome puts the odds even more against you.
Let’s Look at Dietary Magnesium and What It Does For You
I mentioned magnesium briefly in my article on Key Nutrients You May Be Missing, over a year ago. It’s time to revisit the topic in more detail.
There are a number of reasons why magnesium is particularly important if you’re trying to lose weight. For example, magnesium intake is inversely related to metabolic syndrome, according to researchers in Korea and Massachusetts.
In other words, having an adequate intake of magnesium may either help you resist developing metabolic syndrome, or help you recover from it. While we’re not yet sure of the exact relationship, we definitely know that magnesium is critical for health.
It’s the second most abundant mineral in your body, and is used in over 300 essential metabolic reactions. Magnesium helps your body use calcium and vitamin D to keep bones healthy.
I recently wrote about emotional eating. Magnesium helps in two direct ways: it reduces stress by relieving mental irritability (and muscle tension). It also helps regulate healthy blood sugar levels, which means a food craving is less likely to be triggered by blood sugar spikes and valleys.
Magnesium not only helps reduce stress, it helps you sleep… both important factors for weight loss.
How Much Magnesium Do You Need?
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Magnesium is around 400 mg/day for adults (420 mg/day for men over 30 years of age and 320 mg/day for women over 30 years of age).
Getting Magnesium from Your Food
It can be difficult to get enough magnesium through dietary choices, even when you’re eating healthy. Let’s look at the 10 of the top food sources for magnesium:
- Quinoa, dry (1/2 cup) 178 mg
- Black beans, cooked (1 cup) 121 mg
- Peanuts (1/4 cup) 63 mg
- Banana (one medium) 58 mg
- Beet greens (1 cup raw) 58 mg
- Avocado (1/2) 56 mg
- Cashews (9) 52 mg
- Milk, low-fat (1 cup) 40 mg
- Wheat germ (2 tablespoons) 40 mg
- Collard greens (1 cup raw) 31 mg
Looking at that list, it’s easy to see why the average person can become magnesium deficient, even though magnesium plays a critical role in brain, heart, muscle, and skeletal functions, and is critical for energy metabolism and protein synthesis in all tissues.
Magnesium helps prevent or treat numerous disorders, including migraines, depression, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, asthma and pregnancy disorders. Adequate intake of magnesium also reduces systemic inflammation.
Prescription Drugs Can Make You Magnesium Deficient
Certain types of drugs can also cause hypomagnesemia (abnormally low levels of magnesium in the blood) including proton pump inhibitors, antibiotics and diuretics. Note that hypomagnesemia can be present without magnesium deficiency, and vice versa, although hypomagnesemia usually indicates an ongoing magnesium deficit.
Other Causes of Magnesium Deficiency
You may also end up deficient in magnesium due to deficiencies in other nutrients such as selenium, vitamin D, or vitamin B6. Gastrointestinal issues may also create deficiencies. There seems to be a high incidence of magnesium deficiency in individuals with diabetes. Certain incidents such as massive blood transfusions or even a heart attack may cause sudden magnesium deficiencies. Low magnesium is common in alcoholism. There are also genetic issues which can lead to low levels of magnesium. This certainly isn’t a comprehensive list. See the chart here for an excellent overview of the impact of magnesium deficiency.
If you decide to supplement with magnesium pills, read the labels. The most commonly available form is magnesium oxide, which is not absorbed well by most people. Look for magnesium citrate, taurate, malate, glycinate, choloride or carbonate for improved absorption. Magnesium citrate is an excellent choice if you’re prone to constipation. If not, one of the other forms may suit you better, or you can look for a tablet with a combination of these bioavailable forms. Taking magnesium with vitamin B6 will also help absorption. You can also get magnesium in drops to add to water. Of course you should discuss any supplements with your physician.
Magnesium can be absorbed through your skin, so it can be applied as a cream or oil, or you can soak regularly in a bath with Epsom Salts, which are high in magnesium. That sounds like a pleasant and doubly-efficient stress reducer that will help you ensure you’re not magnesium deficient!