Magnesium is involved in hundreds of bodily processes, affecting everything from nerve and muscle function to sleep. Are you getting enough magnesium?
According to the National Institute of Health, the majority of Americans aren’t getting enough magnesium (about 320mg for adult women and 420mg for adult men). Why should you pay attention to magnesium intake? Long-term, inadequate magnesium can affect your health and quality of life in a number of ways, including
- sleep disorders
- restless leg syndrome
- immune function
- hypertension and cardiovascular disease
Jot down what you ate yesterday and estimate how much magnesium you took in. Below are some foods highest in magnesium. Did you eat some of these?
Pumpkin seed kernels, 1 oz 156mg
Brazil nuts, 1 oz 107mg
Sunflower seed butter, 2 tbls 100mg
Chia seeds, 1 oz 95mg
Almonds, 1 oz 80mg
Spinach, cooked ½ cup 78mg
Cashews, 1 oz 74mg
Peanuts, ¼ cup 63mg
Soymilk 1 cup 61mg
Black beans, cooked, ½ cup 60mg
Sesame seeds, 1/2 oz 50 mg
Edamame, cooked and shelled 50mg
Peanut Butter, 2 tbl 49mg
Dark chocolate 60-69% cacao 50mg
Molasses 1 tbl 48mg
Walnuts, 1 oz 45mg
Avocado, 1 cup cubed 44mg
Potato, 3 1/2oz 43mg
Yogurt, 8oz 42mg
Banana, 1 medium 32 mg
Milk 1 cup 24-27mg
Whole-wheat bread, 1 slice 23mg
If you’re like most Americans, you didn’t come close, and in fact a lot of what you did consume may have contributed to lower magnesium levels, including
Additionally, stress and some medications may affect your magnesium levels. Some sources suggest that phytic acid (found in grains), oxalates (found in spinach and other greens as well as tea), phosphates (in soda) and the fluoride and chlorine found in most drinking water may all affect magnesium levels.
The Standard American Diet (SAD) –which contains large amounts of refined carbohydrates and salt and is grown in soil that’s been depleted of minerals by industrial agricultural practices — doesn’t help with widespread magnesium insufficiency. Even our water has less magnesium than a century ago. Be good to your body and make sure it’s getting enough of this critical mineral.
Want to sleep better and prevent headaches? Getting more magnesium in your diet may help. So will cutting back on the caffeine, alcohol, and the rest of the things that lower magnesium levels.
Regularly choosing foods high in magnesium will go a long way to keeping your magnesium levels up. Keep some pumpkin seeds handy for adding to salads, granola, and baked goods, or just snacking on plain. Sprinkle some chia seeds on your oatmeal or try one of these chia pudding recipes (Here’s the best deal I’ve seen on organic chia seeds).
Adding sesame seeds to salads, stir fries, and other dishes will add magnesium as well as a number of other important minerals. Bean-based dishes and dips are other options to include in your rotation. (Find more recipes and meal ideas in my free e-book.) Snack on nuts when you need something satisfying to tide you over, or try some delicious chocolate-covered almonds for a healthier treat.
Additionally, you can absorb magnesium through your skin. Adding some epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to your next bath, along with some stress-relieving essential oils like lavender and clary sage, could help you sleep and feel better.
No time for a nice soak in the tub? (Me neither!) Magnesium oil has been gaining popularity among folk trying to up their magnesium levels. You can buy it or make your own (try this recipe from Turning the Clock Back) and spray a little on your body if you think you could use more magnesium. It can tingle a little till you get used to it, so the bottoms of the feet (which are less sensitive) are a popular place to apply it.
You could also whip up some homemade magnesium lotion like this one from The Homesteading Hippy. She adds some anti-inflammatory essential oils for extra soothing of sore muscles.
The Nerdy Farm Wife also has an intriguing-looking recipe that includes dandelions.
Some super-savvy bloggers are using magnesium to help their kids manage growing pains and sleep better. Mandi at Sweet Tiny Blessings found magnesium oil made a huge difference with her not-so-great sleeper.
The Hippy Homemaker uses homemade bath soak and massage oil that includes lots of soothing herbs to help her son when he complains of growing pains.
If you want to try supplementing your diet with magnesium, Chrystal at Happy Mothering has a fun recipe for a magnesium-gummy.
Do you get enough magnesium in your diet? What are your favorite ways to get plenty of this important mineral?
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Photo credits: HealthAliciousNess.com, Steve N via Flickr
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