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Ralph Teller

Magnesium Natural Food Sources for Peak Performance and Health

by Ralph Teller

Magnesium Facts and Health Benefits

Magnesium is a key electrolyte and is the fourth most common element in the Earth as a whole (behind iron, oxygen and silicon). Magnesium is the 11th most abundant element by mass in the human body. Magnesium ions are essential to all living cells.

Magnesium plays these key roles in optimum health and peak performance:

Regulate Blood Sugar Levels. Magnesium helps regulate blood sugar levels and might play a key role in Diabetes prevention and management. Magnesium may influence the release and activity of insulin, the hormone that helps control blood glucose (sugar) levels. Low blood levels of magnesium are frequently seen in individuals with type 2 diabetes. See Natural Ways to Help Beat and Treat Type 2 Diabetes

Immune Health. Having enough body stores of Magnesium may be protective against immune dysfunction.

Cardiovascular Health and Blood Pressure. Magnesium promotes normal blood pressure, keeps heart rhythm steady, and may play a role in preventing and managing hypertension.

Muscle Function and Contraction. Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function.

Bone Health. Magnesium helps keeps bones strong.

Energy Metabolism and Protein Synthesis. Magnesium is involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Magnesium plays a major role in manipulating important biological polyphosphate compounds like ATP, DNA, and RNA.

Athletes Need More Magnesium. For optimum performance, athletes, especially endurance athletes, need more Magnesium. to replace Potassium lost from muscle during exercise and the smaller amount lost in sweat. Low Potassium can cause muscle cramping and cardiovascular irregularities. Eating foods high in Potassium can prevent these symptoms. Eating foods high in Magnesium prior to an athletic event can improve athletic performance. See also Articles on Hydration and Electrolytes

Natural Food Sources of Magnesium

In general, it is best to obtain Magnesium from natural food sources. Magnesium can be found in all green vegetables, as Magnesium is a key component of Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the compound which gives green vegetables a green color. Here is a list of natural food sources of Magnesium. Good sources of Magnesium include spinach, swiss chard, pursalane and kale. It is important not to overcook green vegetables, as this can reduce the amount of nutrients available for absorption. Other good sources of Magnesium include whole grain bread, whole grain cereals, rolled oats, wheat bran and shredded wheat. Many fish (such as halibut and cod) contain magnesium. Beans and legumes (such as soybeans, baked beans, lentils and peanuts) and nuts (such as almonds and cashews) also provide magnesium.

Selected Food Sources of Magnesium
Food Milligrams (mg) %DV*
Wheat Bran, crude, ¼ cup8922
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 8020
Spinach, frozen, cooked, ½ cup7820
Raisin bran cereal, 1 cup7719
Pumpkin seeds ½ ounce 75 19
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce7419
Soybeans, mature, cooked, ½ cup 7419
Wheat germ, crude, ¼ cup6917
Nuts, mixed, dry roasted, 1 ounce6416
Bran flakes cereal, ¾ cup6416
Shredded wheat cereal, 2 rectangular biscuits6115
Oatmeal, instant, fortified, prepared w/ water, 1 cup6115
Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce5013
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 Tablespoons4912
Potato, baked with skin, 1 medium4812
Blackeye peas, cooked, ½ cup4612
Pinto beans, cooked, ½ cup4311
Rice, brown, long-grained, cooked, ½ cup4211
Lentils, mature seeds, cooked, ½ cup 369
Vegetarian baked beans, ½ cup 359
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup359
Banana, raw, 1 medium328
Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 8 fluid ounces328
Milk, lowfat or nonfat, 1 cup 277
Raisins, seedless, ½ cup packed267
Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces246
Bread, whole-wheat, commercially prepared, 1 slice236
Avocado, cubes, ½ cup226

*DV = Daily Value. DVs are reference numbers developed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers determine if a food contains a lot or a little of a specific nutrient. The DV for magnesium is 400 milligrams (mg).

Magnesium Recommended Daily Intake

Data suggests a substantial numbers of adults fail to get recommended amounts of magnesium in their diets. Daily Recommended Dietary Allowance amounts for Magnesium are developed by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Recommended Dietary Allowances for Magnesium for Children and Adults

Magnesium Deficiency and Toxicity

Magnesium Deficiency.Early signs of Magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. As magnesium deficiency worsens, numbness, tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures (sudden changes in behaviors caused by excessive electrical activity in the brain), personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms can occur.

Low levels of Magnesium in the body has been associated with the development of a number of human illnesses including asthma, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Also, there has been some speculation that magnesium deficiency can lead to depression. Alcoholism can produce a magnesium deficiency.

Supplement Toxicity. Natural food sources of Magnesium does not pose a health risk. However, with Magnesium supplements, overdose is possible. Excess Magnesium supplements can promote adverse effects such as diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Signs of excess Magnesium from supplements include changes in mental status, nausea, diarrhea, appetite loss, muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, extremely low blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat.

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Articles on Magnesium

Magnesium, R. Morgan Griffin Reviewed By David C. Leopold, MD, WebMD

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Magnesium, National Institute of Health

PublicationUSDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, USDA

PublicationNatural Source of Magnesium, Jill Andrews, Livestrong

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