Magnesium Requirements and Dietary Sources

Nuts are high in magnesium.
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Magnesium is a major mineral, and it's the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body. About half of the magnesium in your body is stored in your bones while the rest is at work in the cells of your organs and other tissues.

Magnesium is required for hundreds of biochemical reactions to occur. It's crucial for normal muscle and nerve function and helps maintain a regular health beat. You also need magnesium for strong bones and a healthy immune system.

 

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, Health and Medicine Division has determined the dietary reference intakes (DRI) for magnesium. The suggested daily intake varies by age and by sex. In addition, women who are pregnant need more magnesium.

Dietary Reference Intakes

Females
1 to 3 years: 80 milligrams per day
4 to 8 years: 130 milligrams per day
9 to 13 years: 240 milligrams per day
14 to 18 years: 360 milligrams per day
19 to 30 years: 310 milligrams per day
31+ years: 320 milligrams per day
Women who are pregnant: 360 milligrams per day
Women who are breastfeeding: 320 milligrams per day

Males
1 to 3 years: 80 milligrams per day
4 to 8 years: 130 milligrams per day
9 to 13 years: 240 milligrams per day
14 to 18 years: 410 milligrams per day
19 to 30 years: 400 milligrams per day
31+ years: 420 milligrams per day

Magnesium-rich foods include dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains..

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency are rare in healthy people.

Deficiency Symptoms

Magnesium deficiency can occur when you don't consume enough foods that contain magnesium. It can also happen if you suffer from certain health problems or take medications that may result in the loss of magnesium or reduce the amount your body can absorb in your small intestine.

 DiabetesalcoholismCrohn's diseaseceliac disease, or intestinal surgery may result in magnesium deficiency.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency aren't common, but they can mimic other disorders. Not getting enough may increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases and decreases your immune system function.

You may feel weak and tired, lose your appetite, become nauseated and start vomiting if you have a deficiency. Numbness, tingling, muscle cramps, seizures, and abnormal heart rhythms can develop as the deficiency progresses.

If you have these symptoms, you need to see a health care provider who can order blood tests to determine if a magnesium deficiency is the problem or if there are other causes.

Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium supplements may be beneficial for people who take certain medications that may cause loss of magnesium or reduce absorption, such as diuretics and antibiotics. The elderly, alcoholics, people who have difficulty controlling diabetes, and individuals who suffer from inflammatory bowel disorders may all benefit from taking supplements.

Taking Too Much Magnesium

Getting too much magnesium from the foods you eat is very unlikely, but taking large amounts of dietary magnesium supplements can cause diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Taking too much magnesium for longer periods of time may result in changes in mental status, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, weakness, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and irregular heartbeat.

Don't take magnesium supplements in large doses -- more than 350 mg -- without speaking with your health care provider.

Sources:

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. "Magnesium Factsheet for Health Professionals. Accessed March 21, 2016. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, Health and Medicine Division. "Dietary Reference Intakes Tables and Application." Accessed March 21, 2016. http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Activities/Nutrition/SummaryDRIs/DRI-Tables.aspx.

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