I think of magnesium as the unsung hero of the mineral world. Calcium and potassium get all of the good press and even sodium gets more attention (not that all publicity is good publicity, but…). Furthermore, in spite of its reputation, magnesium isn’t just good for your bones. Read on to learn more about this mighty mineral.
Approximately 60 percent of the magnesium in your body is deposited in your bones. Another 26 percent is in your muscles and the remainder is in your blood and organs. Certainly, magnesium is critical for bone health: it enhances the deposit of calcium into bones and it helps repair bone. But, it is also needed for protein synthesis, muscle contraction and relaxation. According to recent research, magnesium may also decrease your diabetes risk, because it is required for the proper functioning of enzymes involved in glucose processing, specifically the breakdown of glucose into energy. In fact, magnesium is involved many of the important enzymatic reactions in your body.
Symptoms of a magnesium deficiency can include muscle weakness, soreness or cramping; fatigue; high blood pressure; migraines and/or tension headaches. Athletes who sweat a lot can be at risk for a magnesium deficiency as it is lost in perspiration. Magnesium is also not that available in large amounts in foods – unless your diet contains plenty of vegetables and legumes. The RDA for magnesium is 400 mg per day. While supplements are available, as usual it’s best to get your nutrients from food sources.
Good sources of dietary magnesium include:
Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale and collard greens
Black and white beans
Another way to benefit from magnesium is to soak your body in Epsom salts, which are made of magnesium sulfate. A warm bath containing epsom salts can be very soothing to sore joints and muscles. I also recommend soaking your feet in them after a long day of walking or standing or a night of dancing in high heels. Your feet will thank you!