What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of magnesium? Eye twitches/tics? Muscle cramps? …A school science experiment? Well, you’re not far off.
When it comes to minerals we often talk about sodium and potassium but what about magnesium. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body (one of the minerals we need in large amounts) and is responsible for a load of important chemical reactions and also for strong bones. If you’re an endurance athlete, or if you simply want to thrive and to reach your potential, you can’t go past this key mineral. Thankfully we can get it in the food we eat, especially plant foods. And for the chocolate lovers – it’s also found dark chocolate (yum!).
Why do I need magnesium?
Magnesium has a number of key roles in the body, including:
- Provides structure for bones – so important because who wants to be sidelined by weak bones and stress fractures!
- It’s a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme reactions, including protein synthesis, blood glucose control, blood pressure regulation, muscle and nerve function, DNA and RNA synthesis and energy production.
- It helps to support your immune system.
- It’s important for heart health – regulates blood pressure and helps to ensure a steady heartbeat and rhythm.
- Maintains normal muscles contractions (goodbye cramps) and nerve function.
- Improves sleep quality.
- Maintains hormonal balance.
How can I tell if I’m low in magnesium?
Our bodies have been designed to heal and to survive, so things are pretty tightly regulated. This means that if you’ve just come off an off-season, which has meant poor food choices (Plant foods? Pfft.. no thanks. Give me takeaway.), more nights out than usual (booze!) etc., our kidneys will typically help conserve magnesium levels when acute/short-term intakes are low. But if you’re making poor food choices over an extended period of time, this can lead to deficiency.
Symptoms that indicate something is a little NQR* include:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and weakness
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Low mood and anxiety
- Eye tics
*NQR = Not Quite Right 🙂
How much do I need?
The Recommended Daily Intakes (RDIs) for magnesium for adult men and women are as follows:
Where do I get it?
Plant-based food of course! Some of the richest sources of magnesium are plant foods, especially the green leafy’s.
- Spinach (1 cup raw = 24mg magnesium)
- Parsley (1 cup chopped = 30mg magnesium)
- Kale (1 cup raw = 7mg magnesium)
- Broccoli (1 cup chopped = 19mg magnesium)
- Avocado (1 avocado = 58mg magnesium)
- Bananas (1 medium = 32mg magnesium)
- Almonds (30g almonds = 77mg magnesium)
- Brazil nuts (30g Brazil nuts = 107mg magnesium)
- Walnuts (30g walnuts = 45mg magnesium)
- Cashews (30g cashews = 83mg magnesium)
- Brown rice (1 cup cooked = 86mg magnesium)
- Buckwheat (1 cup = 86mg magnesium)
- Oats (1 cup = 276mg magnesium)
- Pumpkin seeds (1 cup = 168mg magnesium)
- Kidney beans (1 cup = 254 magnesium)
- Lentils (1 cup = 90mg magnesium)
- Edamame beans (1 cup = 99mg magnesium)
- Peas (1 cup cooked = 62mg magnesium)
- Raw cacao (30g = 76mg magnesium)
- Dark chocolate (30g = 65mg magnesium)
- Tofu (1/2 cup, firm tofu = 73mg magnesium)
- Salmon (1 fillet = 53mg magnesium)
- Mackerel ( 1 fillet = 85mg magnesium)
- Yoghurt (170g, low fat = 30mg magnesium)
- Whole milk (1 cup = 24mg magnesium)
- Soy milk (1 cup = 61mg magnesium)
Source: USDA Food Composition Database
Putting it into practice:
OK. So, that’s all well and good but how do you put this into practice? Try the following:
- Have oats at breakfast, topped with a banana and some crushed almonds or LSA mix
- Include 2-cups of veg (especially green leafy veg) at meals
- Have a handful of almonds/walnuts/brazil nuts daily
- Include lentils/legumes at meals (magnesium but also protein)
- Include whole grains like buckwheat or brown rice at meals
- Include avocado with meals – on toast in the morning or chopped and added to salads
- If you feel like something sweet in the evening, have a couple of squares of good quality dark chocolate
If in doubt:
Not sure if you’re doing it right and if you’re getting enough magnesium in your diet? Contact me for an appointment today!