Should You Be Taking a Magnesium Supplement?

Products containing magnesium: bananas, pumpkin seeds, blue poppy seed, cashew nuts, beans, almonds, sunflower seeds, oatmeal, buckwheat, peanuts, pistachios, dark chocolate and sesame seeds on wooden table

If you’ve been paying any attention to the world of health and wellness, then you’ve probably started to hear some buzz about magnesium supplements. Some are touting them as a cure-all for a variety of ailments. While this isn’t exactly accurate, at least not according to science, it is true that magnesium is an important mineral. Without it, humans simply wouldn’t be able to function. And yet some people don’t get enough of it. So, should you be taking a magnesium supplement? Read on to find out if it’s needed.

The Might of Magnesium

As mentioned above, magnesium is integral to your nutrition and overall health. You can find the mineral both in the earth’s crust and pumping through your veins. So what exactly is it doing there? The answer is a few things. First of all, magnesium helps to regulate blood pressure and keep your heart beating strongly. Secondly, magnesium plays a part in keeping your blood glucose levels within healthy, normal limits. It even factors into the metabolism of your food and helps your muscles and nerve function.

As you can see, your body can’t really do much of anything without magnesium. If you can’t break down food or get the blood pumping properly, you won’t get very far. So how much magnesium do you need, exactly, and what constitutes a deficiency? Perhaps even more importantly, how do you find out if you’re deficient in this essential mineral?

The Optimal Amount

You get magnesium from the foods that you eat — more on that later. If your doctor suspects that you’re not getting quite enough magnesium, she might order a serum magnesium blood test. This will show whether your blood carries a sufficient amount of magnesium for your body to function in a healthy way. Although only roughly 2% of Americans are magnesium deficient, up to 75% could be getting inadequate amounts.

In order to maintain a healthy level of magnesium, adults should get between 400 and 420 milligrams of the mineral daily, depending on their age. If you don’t, you risk foraying into deficiency territory — you’ll know when you’ve entered it due to the host of symptoms. If you’ve been wondering why you’re suffering from sudden muscle spasms or general fatigue, the answer could be magnesium (or lack thereof).

Hints You Might Be Deficient

Given how important magnesium is to your body, it should come as no surprise that a deficiency will bring with a host of health issues. Keep in mind that you could be low in magnesium for years before you experience any signs or symptoms of deficiency, so it’s important to know those symptoms and head to the doctor immediately if you experience them.

Since the mineral helps to regulate the contraction of your muscles, you might begin to experience unusual cramping or twitching. You might also simply feel weak, like your muscles aren’t quite capable of what they once were. Magnesium plays a role in the absorption of calcium, so someone who’s deficient is also at a greater risk for osteoporosis. High blood pressure and irregular heartbeat often occur, and you could even experience the sudden onset of asthma. In severe cases, mental orders may develop.

Tasty Sources

Here’s the good news: you can get as much magnesium as you need by eating a healthy, balanced diet. Lots of whole foods boast ample amounts of the naturally occurring mineral, like beans and whole grains, peanut butter and nuts, and spinach and beans. Do you drink a glass of milk every morning? It comes with a big dose of magnesium. Are you noshing on a banana after your workout? Then you’re getting some magnesium there, too. Salmon also brings some magnesium with every bite, so it’s a good option.

Another source of magnesium that you might not know about? Seeds — particularly pumpkin seeds. A single serving of pumpkin seeds, AKA pepitas, packs 100 grams of magnesium. That’s nearly 150% of the daily recommending intake of approximately 400 milligrams. So just tossing a handful of the seeds on top of a salad or eating them as a snack can help you meet your daily requirements. If you suspect you might not get enough magnesium from food, a supplement may help. Just discuss it with your doc first.

Now that you know that magnesium is basically a nutritional powerhouse, it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough of it from food. If you don’t, you risk an unhealthy heart or tired muscles. Assess your diet and see if it contains adequate amounts of the magnesium-rich foods mentioned above. If it doesn’t, chat with your doctor about getting a blood test. The test will determine whether or not supplements are necessary, and your physician should be able to suggest a trusted brand to take if it turns out they are.

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