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Minding Your Magnesium

It’s that time of year when many of us have candy on our minds. But let’s take a moment to shift to an important dietary mineral, magnesium!

Magnesium plays an important role in protein synthesis, muscle relaxation, nerve functions, blood pressure and antioxidant production, to name a few. There are about 25 grams of magnesium in the average adult body, half are found in the bones and the other half within cells.

There are a number of reasons someone can experience lower than normal magnesium levels, such as a recent gastrointestinal illness or uncontrolled blood sugar levels from Diabetes.  Magnesium can also become low if you have had recent gastric bypass surgery.

In addition, it’s also common for liver and kidney transplant patients to experience low magnesium levels. Transplant patients may experience low levels due to taking certain immunosuppressant agents or routine diuretics. 

However, some people may simply have a deficiency. To detect a true magnesium deficiency, you should speak with your doctor or see a dietitian.

For just about anyone, consuming enough of this important mineral may appear to be a challenge at times. Let’s focus on some healthy food options. To start, you’ll want to limit your consumption of processed foods.

The average daily intake to maintain magnesium balance under typical conditions is about 320 – 420 milligrams.  It has been noted that 60 percent of adults do not meet the average dietary intake. As with most nutrients, daily needs for magnesium cannot be met from a single food, but rather, by consuming a variety of raw vegetables, whole grains, fiber-rich foods and fortified food options. Legumes, such as lentils, and beans are also a good sources.

If you really need a magnesium boost, foods such as Brazil nuts, almonds and walnuts, are high in magnesium. You can easily add spinach or Swiss chard to a salad, both are magnesium rich. Bran flakes are very rich in magnesium.