About 40% of all Americans get less than optimal amounts of magnesium in their diets. Magnesium activates over 300 enzymes in our bodies, which means that is required for nearly every function in the body! Magnesium also helps break down fats, protein, and carbohydrates, regulates nerve transmission, plays a role in the action of insulin, and is important for the structure of our bones and teeth.
Signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps and trembling, impaired insulin secretion (especially in diabetics), personality changes (e.g., depression, irritability, difficult concentrating), and increased triglycerides and cholesterol.
The recommended daily intake of magnesium is 400-420 mg for adult men and 310-320 mg for adult women. Needs are increased during pregnancy and lactation, as well as during periods of rapid growth, strenuous exercise, and malabsorption (e.g., irritable bowel syndrome).
Some excellent sources of magnesium include:
- Pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup=190 mg)
- Sunflower seeds (1/4 cup=114 mg)
- Sunflower seed butter (2 Tbsp=100 mg)
- Almond butter (2 Tbsp=89 mg)
My two favorite sources of magnesium are:
- Cacao nibs (1/4 cup= 160 mg)
- Chia seeds (2 Tbsp=95 mg)
You can easily add both of these to smoothies or yogurt. Other nuts and seeds, brown rice, and quinoa are good sources of magnesium. Vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, asparagus, and kale contain some magnesium (20-30mg), and fruits do as well (e.g., 1 cup of strawberries=19 mg).
Focus on a whole foods based diet to get in your magnesium! :)