Magnesium is a crucial mineral important for energy and bone function. It is needed by every organ in the body including the heart.
Where do I find magnesium?
Good sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables such as spinach, nuts, wholegrain bread, brown rice, dairy foods, avocados, beans, fish and meat. The recommended daily amount for men is 300mg and for women 270mg.
Why do I need magnesium?
Magnesium helps our bodies turn food into energy. In addition it protects the parathyroid glands which produce hormones needed to keep our bones healthy. Magnesium is found in our bones, teeth and red blood cells and is important for keeping the nervous, muscular and cardiovascular systems functioning. Magnesium also helps to regulate other minerals in the body including calcium, potassium and zinc.
How will I know if I am lacking in magnesium?
A deficiency in magnesium can cause muscle weakness, an irregular heartbeat, irritability, sleep disorders, nausea, insomnia and poor nail growth. People with gastrointestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome may be at greater risk of being deficient. Heavy periods, excessive sweating, too much coffee, salt and alcohol can also reduce magnesium levels.
Can too much magnesium be harmful?
Be warned - magnesium in too high doses can act like a laxative. The long-term impact of taking in large amounts of magnesium is currently unknown. Some experts believe it may cause heart problems over time. Magnesium also competes with calcium to get absorbed into the body so too much magnesium may cause a calcium deficiency if you are lacking. The Department of Health advises that 400mg or less per day in supplements is unlikely to cause any harm. Magnesium supplements should not be taken without first consulting a doctor if you are taking medication for heart or kidney disease.