The Key Mineral That You Are Drinking

images-20While magnesium is best known as a relaxing ingredient in the popular nighttime supplement ZMA, the benefits of magnesium are extremely impressive and extend far beyond sleep alone.

In this article you will learn everything about this key mineral and how regular supplementation can advance your health and even your physique, one step further.

BACKGROUND TO MAGNESIUM AND MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY

In the body, magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral and the second most abundant electrolyte. Magnesium is a key cofactor for over 300 metabolic reactions in the body.

Some of the primary roles of magnesium in the body include1,2,3:

  • protein synthesis,
  • muscle and nerve function,
  • blood glucose control,
  • blood pressure regulation,
  • energy production,
  • DNA synthesis,
  • muscle contraction.

With such a wide range of functions, magnesium deficiency is always going to be of serious concern. The United States daily recommended intake is 420 mg for men and 310 mg for women4.

Related: ZMA Supplements – Do They Improve Sleep & Test Levels?

At present, research estimates that at least 60% of Americans do not consume the recommended daily amount of magnesium in their diets. Remember, that the deficiency level is far below the optimal range for an athlete, or someone who wants to optimize their health and physique5.

The big issue around magnesium intake is limited access to natural sources. Although magnesium is a rather abundant mineral, there is no major food source that provides a high quality amount of magnesium. The foods highest in magnesium include unrefined (whole) grains, spinach, nuts, legumes, and potatoes. However, you would need to eat unrealistic amounts to get a high magnesium intake6.

Food Mg Per Serving Percent DV*
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 80 20
Spinach, boiled, 1/2 cup 78 20
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 74 19
Peanuts, oil roasted, 1/4 cup 63 16
Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits 61 15
Soymilk, plain or vanilla, 1 cup 61 15
Black beans, cooked, 1/2 cup 60 15
Edamame, shelled, cooked, 1/2 cup 50 13
Peanut Butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons 49 12
Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices 46 12
Avocado, cubed, 1 cup 44 11
Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces 43 11
Rice, brown, cooked, 1/2 cup 42 11
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces 42 11
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 10% of DV magnesium 40 10
Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet 36 9
Kidney beans, canned, 1/2 cup 35 9
Banana, 1 medium 32 8
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces 26 7
Milk, 1 cup 24-27 6-7
Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces 24 6
Raisins, 1/2 cup 23 6
Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces 22 6
Beef, ground, 90% lean, pan broiled, 3 ounces 20 5
Broccoli, chopped and cooked, 1/2 cup 12 3

Source: Gebhardt, S., Lemar, L., Haytowitz, D., Pehrsson, P., Nickle, M., Showell, B., … & Holden, J. M. (2008). USDA national nutrient database for standard reference, release 21.

Along with issues around obtaining magnesium naturally, there are a large number of factors that can reduce our rate of magnesium storage and absorption. Most notable of them are7:

  • Excess alcohol, diuretics, coffee, tea, salt, phosphoric acid (sodas), calcium, potassium and sugar.
  • Intense stress.
  • Drugs and some supplements (foscarnet, aminoglycosides, amphotericin B, cyclosporine, azathioprine, cisplatin, citrated blood, excess vitamin D).
  • Several health conditions (vomiting, diarrhea, renal transplantation, etc.).
  • Insufficient water intake.

The most common way to determine magnesium deficiency is by measuring total serum concentrations. A healthy range is between 0.7 and 1.05 mM8. However, most of the body’s magnesium is stored in bone, muscle and soft tissues, with only 1% of the body’s magnesium content stored in the serum9.

Therefore, unless severe magnesium deficiency is present, measuring serum magnesium concentrations is unlikely to be an effective way of diagnosing deficiency10. This means, it is possible that a large majority of the population is actually magnesium deficient, but not to the extent that it would be identified when measuring serum concentrations.

Severe signs of minor of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. If this deficiency continues and progresses, other issues such as abnormal heart rhythms, tingling, numbness, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures and coronary spasms can occur2,4.