Magnesium plays a part in more than 300 metabolic reactions such as energy production, DNA synthesis, insulin action, glucose regulation, lipid metabolism, blood pressure control, muscle contraction, nerve innervations, bone strength and much more.
If you don’t get enough there’s a long list of health problems to face, including…
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Kidney problems
- Migraine headaches
- Inflammation: chronic and low-grade inflammation has increasingly been tied to increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
- Nervous disorders: Research studies have shown that when magnesium in our diet is low, we have increased risk of depression. A long history of published evidence demonstrating that treatment with magnesium can have anti-depressant effect—this was first published in 1921—suggests that low magnesium can actually cause depression. 1
And as vital as magnesium is, most of us are deficient (know the signs). It’s important to know not only how to increase your levels, but to also be on guard against the sneaky ways magnesium can be leached from your body.
Increase your magnesium levels
- Eat foods that are richer in magnesium:
- Excellent sources include spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens.
- Good sources includes pumpkin seeds, turnip greens, summer squash, legumes, kelp, dark chocolate, unprocessed wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds and other nuts, molasses, brown rice, soybeans, oysters, sardines and scallops.
- Tofu—especially nigari tofu—can be significantly high in magnesium. That’s because magnesium chloride is used as a coagulant to curdle the soy milk into tofu.
- Eat organic foods or locally grown foods. Foods grown commercially often come from nutrient-depleted oil. Fresh vegetables from your farmer’s market are more likely to have been grown in soil with a higher nutrient content. Also, the shorter the time from soil to plate increases your chances of getting more nutrients from the food.
- Eat magnesium-rich foods raw, if possible, to get the most from them.
- Take a magnesium supplement daily.
- Other nutrients support your magnesium levels. Make sure you maintain healthy levels of D3, B1 (thiamine), E, B6 and selenium to help your body use your magnesium.
- Soak in Epsom salts. Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate, and it can be absorbed through your skin. Bathing in Epsom salts is a safe and easy way to increase sulfate and magnesium levels in your body without doing any harm. Studies indicate that the body flushes any excess magnesium out through urine. It’s considered safe to soak in Epsom salts daily, but because it can be drying to the skin you may consider limited it to 15-20 minutes baths, once or twice a week, using one to two cups of salts.
Sneaky ways your magnesium is depleted
- Avoid or drink less alcohol: Consuming alcohol depletes magnesium from your body.
- Cooking, such as boiling or blanching can diminish the magnesium levels of magnesium-rich foods.
- High doses of zinc, taken as a supplement, can interfere with the absorption of magnesium. A study reported that zinc supplements of 142 mg/day in healthy adult males significantly decreased magnesium absorption and disrupted magnesium balance. 2 Some medications can also deplete your levels. In addition to antacids, be wary of acid blockers, many antibiotics, diuretics, corticosteroids, and some oral contraceptives to list a few.
- Low protein diets can negatively impact magnesium absorption. 3 Be sure to get your recommended daily allowance of protein.