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Get acquainted with your nutrients - Magnesium

Get acquainted with your nutrients – Magnesium

Health and Nutrition
19.06.2019

Magnesium has an essential role to play in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body involving muscle contraction, neuromuscular conduction, glycemic control, myocardial contraction, and blood pressure.

Magnesium exists in nature as a double positive charge Mg2+ ion. Magnesium is also vital for energy metabolism, synthesis of nucleic acid and bone development. An adult body contains about 24 grams of magnesium. Traditionally, magnesium salts have been used as antacids or laxatives.

Recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for magnesium

The RDA for magnesium depends on age, gender, physiological condition and nutritional status. The recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 420 mg for adult males and 320 mg for adult females, respectively.

Dietary sources of magnesium

Magnesium is found in a variety of foods. About 10% of the daily magnesium requirement is met by water. Chlorophyll the pigment in green leafy vegetables is the main source of magnesium. Nuts, seeds and unprocessed cereals are also rich sources of magnesium. Legumes, fruit, meat and fish are moderate sources of magnesium. Magnesium supplements are quite popular especially with people who are physically active.

Where is magnesium found in the body and what does it do?

About 99% of total body magnesium is found in bone, muscles and non-muscular soft tissue. Bones are where most of the magnesium that is about 50 -60 % is found. The remaining is found in intracellular fluid and a little is found in extracellular fluid of cells of the body. The magnesium content of bone decreases with age.

Bones serve as storage site for magnesium. Magnesium in the bone can interact with other minerals such as calcium and phosphates to increase the strength of bones. Magnesium is vital for efficient energy processing. Magnesium is involved in about 300 chemical reactions in the body and it plays the role of a co-factor. Therefore magnesium is a crucial element for many physiological functions carried out in the body.

Magnesium absorption

Magnesium homeostasis is regulated by the intestines, bones and kidneys. Magnesium absorption in the body ranges between 25-50 %.  magnesium consumed is absorbed mostly in the intestines. Vitamin D, parathyroid hormone and estrogen play an important role in magnesium homeostasis.

Magnesium deficiency

Magnesium deficiency is diagnosed by measuring serum magnesium levels. Hypomagnesemia may be a result of a number of conditions like chronic inadequate intake of magnesium, chronic diarrhea, malabsorption, chronic stress, alcoholism, and also due to the use of medications such as diuretics, antacids, proton pump inhibitors, or aminoglycoside antibiotics.

The most common symptoms of hypomagnesemia are

  1. Muscle weakness
  2. Muscle cramps
  3. Irritability of the nervous system

Symptoms of hypomagnesemia varies with magnesium concentration. Low magnesium intake has been related with neuromuscular, cardiac or nervous disorders.

Processed foods and magnesium deficiency

Milling of wheat and polishing of rice may result in significant losses of magnesium.  Processed foods have a much lower magnesium content than unrefined grain products. Because of increase in the consumption of processed food in the western world magnesium deficiency is increasing. During cooking also if food is cooked in excess water and the water is discarded it may result in loss of magnesium.

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