When looking at essential minerals for the body, it is often thought that calcium receives the award for most important and abundant, but recent studies show that magnesium may be just as or more important than calcium. Although it is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions and is involved in supporting proper nerve function and a healthy immune system. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure, and is involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.
The metabolism of carbohydrates and fats for energy requires numerous magnesium-dependent chemical reactions. Magnesium is also needed for DNA and RNA synthesis and antioxidant synthesis such as glutathione. Although only 1% of magnesium is found in the blood, the rest is bound to tissues and bones making the mineral hard to test for; this makes detecting magnesium deficiency hard.
Magnesium deficiency can result in many symptoms as it is so required in the human body. Symptoms can include insomnia, irritability, nervousness, fatigue, anorexia, muscle twitching, abnormal heart beat and poor memory. It has also been associated with epilepsy and M.S. Magnesium deficiency has also been shown to be a predictor of diabetes and heart disease. It also is related to insulin resistance with diabetes and hypertension and endothelial dysfunction with cardiovascular health. Finally, studies have shown increased cancer rates in regions with low magnesium levels in soil and drinking water. For example, in Egypt the cancer rate was only about 10% of that in Europe and America, the main difference being a ten times larger magnesium intake in the cancer-free populations. Although more research must be done, it is easy to say that magnesium has incredible importance for human health and should be more closely scrutinized for helpful consequences.
Sources of magnesium in foods:
- Dark Leafy Greens like raw spinach
- Nuts like pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, almonds and peanuts etc.
- Fish such as Mackerel, tuna
- Brown rice and whole grains