Most of us have heard of magnesium but many of us don’t know what it does and why it is important in the diet. Magnesium is a mineral essential for good health, with almost 50% stored in our bones and the rest in soft tissues through the body. It has a huge range of functions including protein synthesis, building and maintaining bone strength, heart rate and blood pressure regulation, nerve impulse control, muscle contractions and blood sugar control. In fact, those who have a diet high in magnesium have been shown to have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Since the 1950’s the content of magnesium in vegetables has been declining due to our industrialized agriculture procedures making it more difficult to reach the total recommended daily intake (RDI). However, magnesium is available in a wide range of different plant food products.
As a general rule, food that is high in fibre will be a good source of magnesium. The best natural sources are dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, which provides 79mg of magnesium per 100 grams serving. Other sources include legumes, nuts, whole grains and seeds. Almonds are also an easy way to boost your magnesium intake with just a small handful of almonds (30 grams) providing approximately 80mg. They are however, energy dense so its advised to limit your daily intake to 30 grams. Certain breakfast cereals and other processed foods are fortified with magnesium, which all helps to increase your daily intake, however we always suggest that Fresh is Best.
Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)
The RDI of magnesium varies between gender as well as age with males requiring a higher amount due to having a greater muscle mass and bone density.
The RDI of magnesium per day for each gender is:
Male 19-30 years 400mg 31+ years 420mg
Female 19-30 years 310mg 31+ years 320mg
Magnesium and Mental Health
There is an increasing number of studies that link the detrimental effects of an unhealthy diet and nutrient deficiencies with poor mental health. Growing research also supports the theory that depression could be an inflammatory response. Magnesium has been found to reduce inflammation and is now being trialled in the treatment of depression and anxiety which highlights the importance of a healthy diet. Magnesium deficiency may be induced by alcoholism, stress hormones, excessive dietary calcium as well as dietary deficiencies of magnesium. Other symptoms associated with deficiency include agitation, anxiety, irritability, confusion, sleeplessness and headaches.
5 Tips to get magnesium in to your diet
1. Limit your alcohol intake.
2. Eat a wide range of whole foods that are high in fibre.
3. Snack on nuts and seeds once per day.
4. Eat your leafy green veggies every day.
5. Add more legumes in to your diet such as baked beans, hummus or a nice bean salad.
For our recipe on Mexican Bean and Rice Salad with Avocado, check out the recipes page on our web site.
Written by Lisa Stegena, Nutritionist
Nutrition Force is a Western Australian based company of Nutritionists and Accredited Practising Dietitians that offer weight loss programs, private dietetic consultations, children’s nutrition & dietetics, school nutrition and Corporate Wellness programs. If you would like more information on our Perth Dietitians and the other services we offer call us today on (08) 9385 7755.