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Magnesium

Magnesium rich foods Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, with the majority found in the skeleton and the rest in muscle, soft tissue and blood. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans list magnesium as an under-consumed nutrient.

SIGNS OF DEFICIENCY-Chronic low levels of magnesium can negatively affect body functions that may be associated with chronic diseases, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and conditions including attention deficit disorder and migraines. Magnesium is abundant in food, and the kidneys limit urinary excretion when dietary intake is low, thus deficiency is rare but gaining more and more attention. Chronic low intakes of magnesium or conditions such as alcoholism can promote magnesium deficiency, which has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. Preliminary signs of deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and fatigue, which can progress to more serious symptoms such as abnormal heart rhythm, seizures and coronary spasms.

POPULATIONS AT RISK- Older adults and individuals with gastrointestinal diseases, Type 2 diabetes, renal disorders or alcoholism are more susceptible to magnesium deficiency, since they are likely to under consume or experience reduced absorption or increased losses of magnesium. Large doses of magnesium supplements, magnesium-based antacids or laxatives can interfere with magnesium absorption (especially for people who have impaired kidney function) and can cause diarrhea, nausea and cramping.

RESEARCH- continues for magnesium therapy in risk reduction and management of heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, pregnancy complications, asthma and migraine headaches. However, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Diabetes Association do not recommend magnesium supplementation to manage diabetes. Studies continue to discover magnesium’s benefits in health promotion and disease prevention, but more research is needed. Well-balanced eating plans provide adequate amounts of magnesium. If deficiency is confirmed, dietary supplements may be required under the care of a physician.

Blog Post Provided by:

Katie Foster, RDN, LD

NEXT WEEK: MAGNESIUM- HEALTH ROLES AND DIET