Magnesium is such an important part of health, but approximately 2/3 of adults in developed countries, such as the United States and England, are deficient in this mineral. Magnesium is an “essential nutrient” that is needed for over 300 processes in the body, including skeletal development, maintenance of enzymes, electrolyte balance, cardiovascular health—the list could go on, but I’d like to focus on why we are so deficient in something that is so integral to overall health.
Magnesium can be found in leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, dark chocolate, avocados, beans, dairy, and some fatty fish. You might think that since those are common foods and are easily available that you are getting enough. Unfortunately, there is a catch—and it has to do with the reduction of magnesium in the plant itself.
Magnesium is very important to plants. 75% of a plant’s Magnesium is involved in protein synthesis, as well as 15-20% needed for chlorophyll pigments. As with humans, magnesium is also a cofactor for plant enzyme processes, some of which are needed for photosynthesis.
The RDA (recommended daily allowance) of Magnesium for men is 420 mg per day; the average intake for men is around 323 mg per day. The RDA for women is 320 mg per day; the average intake for women is 228 mg, and a staggering 10% of elderly women are getting less than 136 mg per day.
Regions where most of the magnesium is available through cereal and bread products are most affected, but unfortunately, the problem is widespread. Magnesium content in wheat has decreased by 19.6% since 1968. Changes in soil and crop fertilization practices has caused a steady decline of magnesium content in plants.
It is clear that our bread and cereal products aren’t what they once used to be. Choosing 100% whole wheat products over white, bleached wheat products will provide a boost in magnesium, but this is likely not enough. Magnesium supplementation is one of the easiest ways to make sure you are getting an adequate amount of this mineral. Deficiencies in magnesium can manifest in many ways, from difficulty sleeping, to muscle cramps and twitches, disease and inflammation processes, hormone imbalances, and many more.
Magnesium has been linked with the gut-brain-axis, as well as risk factors for psychiatric disorders, anxiety, depression, and even ADD/ADHD. Magnesium is considered a nootropic, meaning that it can affect you psychologically and improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. In particular, magnesium glycinate is often used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.
Magnesium is one supplement I will never be without. There are many types to choose from, but I recommended magnesium glycinate because it is easy on the stomach, calming to the nervous system, and great for sleep.
- Guo, Wanli, et al. “Magnesium Deficiency in Plants: An Urgent Problem.” The Crop Journal, vol. 4, no. 2, Apr. 2016, pp. 83–91., doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cj.2015.11.003.