In 2009, the United States Department of Agriculture estimated that 57% of people in the USA do not consume an adequate amount of magnesium in their diet.

There are also numerous risk factors for Magnesium depletion, including endocrine, gastrointestinal and kidney disorders, pharmaceutical drugs and elevated cortisol levels.

Other minerals, particularly calcium, also compete with magnesium throughout the body, including absorption through the lining of the gut. Widespread calcium supplementation over recent years, particularly in the elderly, may be contributing to sub-optimal magnesium levels in the population. There are also likely to be other factors, such as disease, that negatively impact how efficiently our bodies use the magnesium that we do manage to absorb into our blood. These combined effects suggest that sub-optimal magnesium levels in the developed world are likely.

Magnesium is a really important mineral and is necessary for every major biological process in the body and therefore for the proper function of every organ. It is required for energy production, proper nerve conduction, regulation of the cardiovascular system, muscle activity, amino acid and protein synthesis, immune function and glucose metabolism.

Therapeutically, magnesium supplementation is used to treat a wide range of conditions, including asthma, headaches, cardiovascular related disorders, diabetes mellitus, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorders, epilepsy, mood disorders, osteoporosis prevention, constipation, chronic leg cramps, dyspepsia, premenstrual syndrome and muscle tension.

The importance of dietary magnesium was highlighted in a large cardiovascular disease study. The group who had the highest dietary intake of magnesium had a reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and mortality (34%), compared to the lowest magnesium intake group. Low magnesium status has been associated with conditions that have a chronic inflammatory component.

Food groups generally high in magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals and legumes. A well-balanced diet consisting mostly of whole foods should maintain adequate magnesium status in the body of healthy individuals. However, in cases of low dietary intake, stress (psychological or physical), disease, supplementation with other minerals or certain health conditions, magnesium supplementation may be beneficial. Magnesium interacts with numerous other nutrients and drugs so please talk to your health practitioner before taking magnesium, or any other supplement, to avoid adverse health outcomes.

About the Author

Rick from Health Generation provides private consultations in Coffs Harbour, NSW and via the internet Australia Wide. Rick uses naturopathic principles to provide nutrition, lifestyle and environmental health solutions.

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