Magnesium is an essential mineral for human nutrition and is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is responsible for maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, supporting immune function, and keeping bones strong.

Magnesium is usually referred to as a “macromineral,” which means that our food must provide us with hundreds of milligrams of magnesium every day. (The other macrominerals that all humans must obtain from food are calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and chloride. Researchers estimate that the average person’s body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, and about half of that is in the bones.

Every organ in the body — especially the heart, muscles, and kidneys — needs the mineral magnesium. Most important, it activates enzymes, contributes to energy production and transport, and helps regulate calcium levels, as well as copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients in the body. Magnesium is required for the proper growth and maintenance of bones, the contraction and relaxation of muscles, and the production of protein.

Magnesium benefits

Just a few of the benefits of magnesium include:

-Helps neutralize stomach acid and moves stools through the intestine
-Relieves symptoms of PMS including mood changes and bloating in some women
-Prevents the recurrence of kidney stones
-Prevents cardiovascular disease and immune dysfunction
-Athletes sometimes use magnesium to increase energy and endurance.

Food Sources of Magnesium

Good food sources of magnesium include halibut, almonds, cashews, spinach, oatmeal, peanuts, potatoes, milk, yogurt, brown rice, avocados, lentils, whole grains, legumes, vegetables, raisins, and nuts. An easy way to remember foods that are good magnesium sources is to think fiber. Foods that are high in fiber are generally high in magnesium. Dietary magnesium is absorbed in the small intestines.

Magnesium Supplements

Nutrients should come primarily from foods however magnesium is one nutrient that most people are lacking in their daily diets, so supplementing it can be beneficial.

Magnesium is available in many forms. Recommended types include magnesium citrate, magnesium gluconate, and magnesium lactate, all of which are more easily absorbed into the body than other forms.

Magnesium is also used as a laxative for constipation and for preparation of the bowel for surgical or diagnostic procedures. It is also used as an antacid for acid indigestion. The recommended daily value for magnesium is 400 milligrams (mg).

Individuals that may need to supplement magnesium include;

-Those taking antibiotics, diuretics and Anti-neoplastic medication: Cisplatin
-Those with poor diets
-Those with alcoholism
-Those with Crohn’s Disease
-Those with a potassium deficiency
-Older adults

Side Effects

Side effects from increased magnesium intake are not common because the body can remove excess amounts. However, overdosing on magnesium supplements may cause diarrhea and abdominal cramping.

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