In the fast-paced world in which we live, it can be tough to get enough vitamins and minerals. Often, the foods we eat each day are based on convenience, not quality. We’re constantly on-the-go and, if you haven’t planned out your meals ahead of time, you may be forced to grab whatever is handy, regardless of whether it’s good for you. Even if you try really hard each day to eat right, or if you take a multivitamin to supplement your diet, you still may not be getting the appropriate amounts of vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Blount Memorial registered dietitian Angie Tillman says one thing most people don’t get enough of is magnesium. “Magnesium is essential for cellular health,” Tillman said. “It’s involved with more than 300 biochemical functions in our bodies, including helping with neurotransmitter functions and regulating heartbeat rhythms. This also leads to magnesium being commonly referred to as the ‘relaxation’ mineral,” she said. “Unfortunately, it’s estimated that as many as 80 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough of this important mineral, which potentially can lead to a number of health issues. Problems such as hormone imbalances, osteoporosis, muscle pain, tension and migraine headaches, constipation, chronic fatigue, insomnia, anxiety and depression all may be linked to a magnesium deficiency. By contrast, a higher intake of magnesium can lead to decreased heart disease, significant decreases in blood pressure, a lower risk of diabetes and even better blood sugar control if you have diabetes already,” she added.
“The best way to increase your magnesium intake is by consuming foods that are higher in magnesium,” Tillman said. “Typically, this means eating more leafy greens, which have the highest magnesium content. In general, the average American adult is eating far too few vegetables overall anyway, so this will not only increase your magnesium intake, but your intake of vegetables altogether,” she said. “The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium for adults ranges from 310 milligrams to 420 milligrams per day, with higher amounts recommended for men, as well as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding,” Tillman explained.
In addition to leafy greens, Tillman says there are six more foods that are high in magnesium that can help you reach your recommended daily allowance. “If you’re going the leafy green route, you want to be sure to look at your portion sizes. One cup of spinach or chard equals about 157 milligrams of magnesium. Pumpkin seeds contain 92 milligrams of magnesium for every 1/8 cup, and you get about 76 milligrams of magnesium from one ounce of almonds. Kefir gets you 50 milligrams of magnesium per cup, while a half cup of black beans contains about 60 milligrams of magnesium. Half of an avocado contains about 30 milligrams of magnesium, and just one ounce of dark chocolate has about 41 milligrams of magnesium,” she explained.
“There also are multiple magnesium supplements you can try that can help you hit that recommended daily allowance, including magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate. Remember, it's a great idea to reach out to your physician before adding a supplement. And it's best if you can try to get as much magnesium as you can from food,” Tillman said. “Even if you can’t hit those recommended daily allowances, simply making an effort to consume a little more magnesium each day will help your body’s natural processes to keep doing what they do, and we all could stand to eat a few more vegetables,” she said.