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What is magnesium and what are the benefits?

Nuts and dried fruit in bowls
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If you eat a healthy, balanced diet you should be consuming all the nutrients your body needs. A diet low in certain food groups may lead to a deficiency, which is why if you follow a restricted diet, you may want to consider upping your daily intake.

Read on to find out about magnesium, and whether you’re getting enough in your diet.

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is a metallic element and an essential nutrient that should be part of your daily diet. It’s found in a variety of common foods, including spinach and nuts, which means most people should be able to get adequate quantities through their diet alone.

The NHS recommends that men aged 19-64 need 300mg of magnesium a day, and women aged 19-64 need 270mg. If you need to take magnesium supplements because you aren’t getting enough in your diet, you should aim to take no more than 400mg per day. Taking too much of any supplement or medicine is never recommended – in the case of magnesium, taking more than 400mg each day can cause diarrhoea. If you’re thinking about taking supplements speak to your doctor or a pharmacist to make sure they’re suitable for you, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition.

The health benefits of magnesium

Magnesium has hundreds of functions within the body. One of its primary benefits is that it helps convert the food we eat into energy. Another important benefit is that it assists with the functioning of the parathyroid glands, which are important for maintaining good bone health.

More research needs to be conducted into the effects of magnesium, but it has been suggested that magnesium can help with the following conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular issues (heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke)
  • Migraine

Sources of magnesium

If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough magnesium, you can try eating more magnesium-rich foods, or taking supplements.

Magnesium-rich foods

Magnesium is found in a variety of foods that are suitable for nearly every diet. Even if you have a restricted diet (e.g. you’re a vegan) you should be able to consume all the magnesium you need, by incorporating more of the following into your daily meals.

  • Whole grains e.g. wholemeal bread
  • Leafy greens e.g. spinach
  • Avocado
  • Nuts e.g. almonds, peanuts, cashews
  • Dark chocolate
  • Quinoa
  • Black beans
  • Edamame
  • Tofu

Magnesium supplements

If you think you may need more magnesium in your diet – perhaps because you aren’t able to consume the kinds of foods described above – then you may consider taking supplements such as Nu U Magnesium Citrate.

In combination with a balanced diet and an active lifestyle, dietary supplements can be a great way to stay healthy. Just remember to always follow the recommended dosages – for magnesium, you shouldn’t take more than 400mg each day.

You should not take supplements as a substitute for a varied, balanced diet or a healthy lifestyle.

Can magnesium help combat anxiety and stress?

In addition to the conditions above, it’s also thought that magnesium may be an effective treatment for psychological issues such as anxiety, stress and depression. However if you are experiencing anxiety or depression you should speak to your GP.

How much magnesium should I consume for anxiety?

If you are experiencing anxiety, stress or low mood, you should make an appointment to speak to your GP, who can talk to you about your treatment options (e.g. medication, counselling).

Can magnesium help me sleep?

Another area where more research into magnesium needs to be carried out is sleep. It’s been suggested by some studies that taking magnesium can help to regulate sleep, and reduce insomnia and fatigue.

If you’re experiencing insomnia it’s always advised that you speak to a doctor first.

References

www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others/
www.nhs.uk/news/mental-health/can-magnesium-help-depression-or-is-it-just-a-placebo/
www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286839