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Magnesium - The Essential Mineral

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, magnesium is perhaps one not often discussed. However, magnesium is an essential mineral which enhances approximately 300 enzyme-related processes in the body. As one of the most versatile minerals, it is involved in energy production, nerve function, muscle relaxation, and bone and tooth formation. Like all the vitamins and minerals required for optimal health, magnesium plays an equally important role.

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, magnesium is perhaps one not often discussed. However, magnesium is an essential mineral which enhances approximately 300 enzyme-related processes in the body. As one of the most versatile minerals, it is involved in energy production, nerve function, muscle relaxation, and bone and tooth formation. Like all the vitamins and minerals required for optimal health, magnesium plays an equally important role.

Where it’s Found and Lost

Good sources of magnesium are found in whole grains, nuts (especially almonds, cashews and peanuts), legumes, dark green leafy vegetables (especially spinach) and shellfish. Many people do not have adequate stores of magnesium, often because they rely too heavily on processed foods which contain very little of this mineral. In addition, magnesium levels are easily depleted by stress, certain diseases or medications and intense physical activity. The lack of magnesium in drinking water (soft water) also has an effect; according to the US National Academy of Science (1977), over 50 studies (from 9 countries) indicated that people who drink water deficient in magnesium and calcium are more susceptible to cardiovascular disease. This finding was also documented in a 1980 National Research Council report.

Supplements and Benefits

Magnesium supplements are commonly available in capsule, tablet, powder, liquid and granule form, and health professionals affirm that this mineral:-

  • protects against heart disease and stroke
  • eases fibromyalgia symptoms
  • lowers high blood pressure
  • improves symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • aids in preventing and treating diabetes
  • promotes muscle relaxation

Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended daily dietary intake (RDI) for magnesium is 420 mg a day for men, and 320 mg a day for women (350 mg a day during pregnancy and 310 mg when breastfeeding). Higher doses of magnesium are required for disease prevention or treatment, as well as for women who take oral contraceptives.

Deficiency and Overdose

Even moderate deficiencies can raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and severe deficiencies can result in irregular heartbeat, fatigue, muscle spasms, irritability, depression, confusion and seizures. However (although rare because the kidneys are usually efficient at eliminating excess amounts), overdosing with magnesium can occur and cause serious side effects. The symptoms of overdosing include muscle weakness, lethargy, confusion, difficulty breathing and seizures.

Avoid Complications

It is always advisable to consult with your doctor, pharmacist or other health-care professional, and refer to any product information sheets that accompany medications (both prescription and over the counter), before making any changes to existing medications, or self-administering new supplements.

Sources:

Magnesium Online Library - http://www.mgwater.com/index.shtml

Readers Digest General Books – Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements

[Chief Medical Advisor – Dr Kathy Kramer, MBBS (USyd) BSc(Med) (Hons)BA]

[Consultant – Alan Wallace, BPharm, FSHPA]

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