Magnesium is an important mineral that impacts our body in many ways. Metabolism, blood pressure, immune function, and sleep are affected by magnesium, as are more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Despite the numerous benefits of magnesium, it's a mineral that the majority of the world's population sorely lacks. Soil depletion to unmitigated stress to high intakes of caffeine and sugar have been cited by WellnessMama.com as causes for widespread magnesium deficiency. If you're worried that you may be suffering from magnesium deficiency, watch out for the following signs:
High-blood pressure or hypertension - According to the July 2014 issue of the Harvard Health Letter, magnesium helps relax the blood vessels and aids in the transportation of potassium, a mineral crucial to keeping blood vessel walls soft and thereby lowering blood pressure. In fact, Harvard researchers behind a 2002 study published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that people with the healthiest blood pressure numbers also had the highest magnesium intake.
Artery calcification - This may not always be the first sign of magnesium deficiency, but is definitely one of the most dangerous. Low magnesium levels can lead the arteries to calcify, since magnesium helps balance out the amount of calcium present in our bodies. Arteries that have calcified increase the risk of cardiovascular problems like heart disease or heart attacks.
Muscle spasms and cramps -Apart from causing the arteries to harden, a shortage of magnesium also causes muscle tissue to stiffen. In turn, this raises the likelihood of cramps and muscles spasms. Magnesium also stabilizes the nerve axon, or the nerve fiber that relays information from the nerve body, stated MNN.com. When magnesium drops, hyper-responsive nerve axons come about, and these result in muscle tremors, spasms, and even weakness.
Sleep problems - In a 2012 study, magnesium supplements were found to play a key role in improving and regulating sleep. This is because magnesium maintains the function of the brain's gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. These are the neurotransmitters that allow the brain to transition into a more relaxed state.
Low energy levels - Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy in cells need magnesium in order to be created. Magnesium accomplishes this by binding to ATP, the main source of energy in cells.
Anxiety and depression - Apart from regulating calcium, magnesium also manages glutamate. Calcium and glutamate can activate the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor and send it into overdrive. This can damage the neurons in the long run, eventually leading to cell death. This isn't an easy condition to remedy in brain cells, and can often tremendously and negatively impact one's mental health.
Poor bone health - Like calcium, magnesium is vital for bone health. Magnesium facilitates vitamin D's absorption of calcium, as well as stimulates the hormone calcitonin which draws calcium out of soft tissues and transfers it into the bones.
How do I increase my magnesium intake?
The recommended daily intake of magnesium for adult women is 310 mg; this number is different for adult men, who need 400 mg. These numbers increase after the age of 30, with women needing 320 mg of magnesium daily, and men needing 420 mg.
The best sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables, legumes, and dietary fiber-rich foods. Ensure that you get the proper amount of magnesium by incorporating the following foods into your diet: