Posts Tagged ‘magnesium’

Magnesium – Key Element for Good Health

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Why magnesium is a key element of good health

Magnesium. Maybe you remember it from the periodic table in 10th grade chemistry class. What you may not realize is that our bodies use this shiny gray rock-like element in many ways. In fact, it is integral in over 300 biochemical reactions, from muscle contractions to neurotransmission, blood pressure and heart rhythm to immune response.

So how can you be sure that you are getting enough of this vital nutrient?

For adults, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of magnesium from food varies by age and gender:

Age Male Female
19–30 years 400 mg 310 mg
31–51+ 420 mg 320 mg

Note: amounts differ for pregnant or lactating women.

Most people eat proper amounts of magnesium in foods such as spinach, whole grains, beans, nuts, and potatoes. But according to the National Institutes of Health, many older Americans–especially men over age 70–are not consuming the proper amount of magnesium. Yet despite these dietary shortfalls, magnesium deficiency is still quite rare, even among seniors.

Dr. Bruce Bistrian, chief of clinical nutrition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, explains, “The kidney has an extraordinary ability to reduce magnesium loss in urine, and thus achieve magnesium balance on a wide variety of intakes.”

Examples of magnesium-rich foods

1 ounce of dry-roasted almonds, 80 milligrams

1/2 cup frozen spinach (cooked), 78 milligrams

1/2 cup bran flakes, 64 milligrams

1 medium baked potato with skin, 48 milligrams

1/2 cup canned kidney beans, 35 milligrams

Are magnesium supplements necessary?

For optimal health, it is preferable to get your necessary magnesium from food. High-fiber foods like nuts, dark-green leafy vegetables, unrefined grains, and beans are all good options.

For those who have issues with magnesium absorption from food– such as people with diabetes, Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, some kidney conditions, alcoholism, and people on certain medications– magnesium supplements can be beneficial.

But be wary of the claims of some magnesium supplement manufacturers that their product can increase energy, regulate sleep cycles, and reduce body aches. According to Dr. Bistrian, “There’s no evidence, to my knowledge, that it [magnesium] would be effective for those symptoms.”

And ingesting excessive amounts of magnesium from supplements can have an adverse effect on your health including diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping, even cardiac arrest.

Think you could have low magnesium?

As noted, magnesium deficiency is rare, but if you have a condition that predisposes you to poor magnesium absorption, or you are concerned about your levels, ask your doctor for a blood test.

Learn about our magnesium blood tests:

Magnesium Serum Blood Test (

Magnesium RBC Blood Test (

Magnesium Serum Blood Test (

Magnesium RBC Blood Test (

Learn more about the importance of magnesium in your diet and how it impacts health >>



Magnesium Blood Test

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Magnesium: Why do you need this mineral?

Most of the magnesium in your body is found in the bone and only 1% of it is found in the blood.  This precious mineral is needed for many of the biochemical reactions in the body:

  1. maintains normal muscle & nerve function
  2. assists with keeping the heart rhythm steady
  3. supports the immune system
  4. keeps your bones strong

Additionally, magnesium is used to help regulate blood sugar levels and will promote a healthy blood pressure.  For diabetics and hypertensive individuals, magnesium can prevent or manage your disease.

Magnesium Blood Test

You may need a magnesium blood test if you have low levels of calcium and potassium or symptoms such as:

  1. muscle weakness
  2. twitching
  3. cramping
  4. confusion
  5. cardiac arrhythmia
  6. seizures

The magnesium blood test is also used if you show signs of malabsorption, malnutrition, diarrhea, or alcoholism.

Many diabetics or those with kidney disease may have regular blood magnesium tests to be sure the kidney is not excreting or retaining too much magnesium.
Other electrolyte tests, in addition to magnesium, may be ordered to determine if any other electrolytes are imbalanced:
  1. sodium
  2. potassium
  3. chloride
  4. CO2
  5. calcium
  6. phosphorus
How to Get Magnesium through Diet

Most green vegetables, lettuce, spinach, kale, etc, contain dietary magnesium.  Additionally, magnesium can be found in a variety of nuts, whole grains and tap water.  The National Institutes of Health indicates that magnesium deficiency is rare in the US, but there are certain people that may need extra through diet or supplementation.

spinach image resized 600

Below is a chart from the FDA to show which foods have the most magnesium content.

Food Milligrams (mg) %DV*
Wheat Bran, crude, ¼ cup 89 22
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 80 20
Spinach, frozen, cooked, ½ cup 78 20
Raisin bran cereal, 1 cup 77 19
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 74 19
Soybeans, mature, cooked, ½ cup 74 19
Wheat germ, crude, ¼ cup 69 17
Nuts, mixed, dry roasted, 1 ounce 64 16
Bran flakes cereal, ¾ cup 64 16
Shredded wheat cereal, 2 rectangular biscuits 61 15
Oatmeal, instant, fortified, prepared w/ water, 1 cup 61 15
Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce 50 13
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 Tablespoons 49 12
Potato, baked with skin, 1 medium 48 12
Blackeye peas, cooked, ½ cup 46 12
Pinto beans, cooked, ½ cup 43 11
Rice, brown, long-grained, cooked, ½ cup 42 11
Lentils, mature seeds, cooked, ½ cup 36 9
Vegetarian baked beans, ½ cup 35 9
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup 35 9
Chocolate milk, lowfat, 1 cup 33 8
Banana, raw, 1 medium 32 8
Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 8 fluid ounces 32 8
Milk chocolate candy bar, 1.5 ounce bar 28 7
Milk, lowfat or nonfat, 1 cup 27 7
Raisins, seedless, ½ cup packed 26 7
Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces 24 6
Bread, whole-wheat, commercially prepared, 1 slice 23 6
Avocado, cubes, ½ cup 22 6
Chocolate pudding, ready-to-eat, 4 ounces 19 5

*DV = Daily Value. DVs are reference numbers developed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers determine if a food contains a lot or a little of a specific nutrient. The DV for magnesium is 400 milligrams (mg). Most food labels do not list a food’s magnesium content. The percent DV (%DV) listed on the table above indicates the percentage of the DV provided in one serving. A food providing 5% of the DV or less per serving is a low source while a food that provides 10–19% of the DV is a good source. A food that provides 20% or more of the DV is high in that nutrient. It is important to remember that foods that provide lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.

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Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.