Discover 6 reasons magnesium is so important and deserves your attention

  • 2 Minutes Read
Sue Heikkinen
Sue Heikkinen, MS, RDN, CDCES, BC-ADM, ACE-PT - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Learn why magnesium is important to your body, plus what high-magnesium foods you should add to your diet.

Why is magnesium important

Its numerous functions in the body explain why magnesium is important

We need the all-around valuable mineral magnesium for proper blood sugar control, nerve and muscle function, and energy production. So let's take a closer look at the ways magnesium benefits your body.

1. Anxiety and sleep

Magnesium plays a role in brain health and nerve transmission and may benefit people with anxiety. A review of 18 studies found an overall benefit of magnesium intake on anxiety symptoms, although more research is needed.

Many people use magnesium in hopes of promoting better sleep. In addition, magnesium supplements potentially benefit older adults, who tend not to get enough magnesium.

2. Blood sugar control

If you are at risk for diabetes, choosing high-magnesium foods may be one of your best diabetes prevention strategies. People who consume more magnesium have a lower risk of diabetes than those who consume less.

In a study of people with diabetes, magnesium supplements improved insulin resistance and blood sugar control.

3. Lowering blood pressure

The healthy eating pattern known as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet features foods high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Magnesium supplements have a small blood-pressure-lowering effect, yet they do not come with quite the array of protective nutrients found in a DASH diet.

4. Digestion

Magnesium supports healthy digestion by neutralizing stomach acid and drawing water into the intestinal tract, helping soften and move stool. So, not surprisingly, you find magnesium in many antacids and laxatives.

5. Muscle function

Magnesium is important for muscle contractions (including the heart), and research indicates it may improve exercise performance.

Although some media promote high-magnesium foods to remedy muscle cramps, magnesium does not appear to help reduce muscle cramps.

6. Bone health

Calcium isn't the only mineral that is good for your bones. Magnesium helps bone development, and half of the magnesium in your body is in your bones. People with higher magnesium intake tend to have higher bone mineral density. However, it is unclear if magnesium supplements lead to stronger bones.

How much magnesium do I need, and how do I get enough?

The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for women ages 19-30 is 310 mg and 320 mg for women ages 31 and older. The RDA is 400 mg for men ages 19-30 and 420 mg for ages 31 and older.

Now that you know why magnesium is important, look at all the food sources for it: whole grains, bran, nuts, seeds, beans, and green vegetables-the very foods few eat often enough. So, of course, a survey of US dietary patterns found that almost half of Americans didn't get the recommended amount of magnesium from their diet.

Check out some foods that boost your magnesium consumption:

Food Portion Magnesium (mg)
Pumpkin seeds 1 ounce (shelled) 166
Brown rice 1 cup, cooked 86
Cashews, dry roasted 1 ounce 74
Edamame 1 cup 72
Dark chocolate 70-85% 1 ounce 65
Oatmeal 1 cup, cooked 63
Yogurt, plain low fat 8 fluid ounces 42
Banana 1 medium 32
Spinach 1 cup raw 24
Avocado 1/2 medium 29

What about supplements?

If you need to raise your magnesium intake, the best way is to increase high-magnesium foods in your diet. Magnesium supplements may benefit some, but they don't replace healthy, high-magnesium foods containing other valuable nutrients and health benefits. Another reason to favor food sources over a pill: magnesium supplements have potential side effects. The Upper Limit (UL) for magnesium from supplemental forms is 350 mg daily. However, this limit does not apply to magnesium you get from food sources. Excess magnesium from supplements can result in low blood pressure, diarrhea, muscle weakness, abnormal heart rhythm, and difficulty breathing.

Magnesium supplements can interact with some medications, so check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking them.

Monitor your magnesium intake with MyNetDiary

Magnesium is important enough that you should see if you are meeting your needs for this vital nutrient. You can start by tracking your food choices with a MyNetDiary Premium membership. Be sure to track magnesium supplements as well. Many manufacturers do not provide magnesium information, resulting in missing data. So, log staple or generic foods for the most comprehensive nutrition information.

Still new to MyNetDiary? Learn more today by downloading the app for FREE.

Nutrients->Other Vitamins & Minerals Nutrients->Supplements
Nov 3, 2021
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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