Here I begin a multi-part series on one of the most critical nutrients out there for our bodies. It is magnesium, which makes more than 300 chemical reactions in the body occur, and the importance of which stretches to all corners of the body.
Your body contains about 25 grams of magnesium and more than 60% of that is found in your bones, while nearly 30% is housed within your muscles. Magnesium is one of the few essential nutrients in which we are often deficient — particularly older adults. For this reason, it’s reasonable to suggest most adults take a magnesium supplement.
Magnesium is needed for more than 300 chemical reactions in the body; here are the processes regulated by the most important ones:
— Production of energy carbohydrate and fats
— Maintenance of bone structure, cell membranes, and chromosomes
— Synthesis of DNA, RNA, proteins, and important antioxidants
— Transport of potassium and calcium across cell membranes (essential for contracting muscles, nerve impulses, and a healthy heartbeat)
— Wound healing (magnesium affects the migration of a number of different cells)
— Secretion of parathyroid hormone, an important regulator in the body (it maintains normal calcium and phosphorus levels)
How much do you need? The U.S. National Research Council recommends that adults take at least 300 or 400 milligram (mg) of every day. For children under 10, the figure is lower, at 150 to 250 mg a day. You might find it surprising that only about 25% of Americans meet the recommended dietary intake of the mineral, which is between 200 and 400 mg a day.
Most American men get only 220 to 260 mg and women get 175 to 225 mg a day. Therefore, as many as 75% of adults in North America have marginal magnesium deficiency. The primary reason for this high incidence is the refined diet that many North Americans tend to eat. Here are two examples: 99% of the magnesium in sugar cane is lost when it is refined to white sugar; 80% to 96% of magnesium in wheat is lost when it’s refined to white flour. In contrast, the Asian diet, which is mainly whole-food based, provides anywhere between 500 and 700 mg of magnesium a day, while our Western diet provides just 30% of that amount.
There are several factors that may cause you to be deficient. They include chronically eating refined foods, keeping a high-fat diet, drinking too many soft drinks, suffering diarrhea or vomiting, drinking too much alcohol, keeping a diet high in protein, sugar or sodium, suffering stress, being diabetic, and having a thyroid condition.