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Magnesium

spinach magnesium

What is magnesium?
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. Found in bones, teeth, and red blood cells, magnesium is an essential element required for proper functioning of the nervous, muscular and cardiovascular systems.

Why is magnesium necessary?
Magnesium helps maintain muscles, nerves, and bones, and studies have shown that a diet rich in magnesium may help protect against metabolic syndrome, a combination of risk factors that can lead to diabetes and heart disease. It promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism.

What are the signs of a deficiency?
A magnesium deficiency can result in issues ranging from irritability and muscle weakness to irregular heartbeat. A balanced diet usually supplies all the magnesium a person needs, but people with specific illnesses or who are taking certain medications may benefit from magnesium supplements.

How much, and what kind, does an adult need?
According to the National institutes of Health (NIH), the recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for adult males is 270-400 mg; adult females is 280-300 mg; for pregnant females 320 mg daily; and for breastfeeding females, 340-355 mg. Dr. Weil recommends taking half as much magnesium as one does calcium, to offset calcium's constipating effect and to ensure the appropriate balance of these two key minerals in the body. Look for magnesium citrate, chelate, or glycinate, and avoid magnesium oxide, which can be irritating to the digestive tract.

How much does a child need?
The NIH states RDAs of 40-80 mg for infants up to 3 years of age; 120 mg for children between 4 and 6 years old; and 170 mg for children between 7 and 10 years of age. Adolescent males should get 270-400 mg, and adolescent females should get 280-300 mg daily.

How do you get enough magnesium from foods?
Good dietary sources of magnesium include whole grains, leafy green vegetables (spinach is a great source) as well as almonds, cashews and other nuts, avocados, beans, soybeans and halibut. Be aware that a diet high in fat may cause less magnesium to be absorbed, and cooking may decrease the magnesium content of food.

Are there any risks associated with too much magnesium?
High doses of magnesium can lead to a laxative effect or diarrhea, and high levels of magnesium in the blood can lead to heart problems.

Are there any other special considerations?
If you have heart disease or kidney problems, consult with your physician before taking magnesium supplements, as they can adversely affect these conditions.

If you take oral tetracycline, magnesium may reduce its effectiveness. Read label directions for more information.


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