Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in our body. It is needed for more than 300 functions. It plays an important role in nerve and muscle reactions, a healthy immune system, heart health and creating strong bones. The main source of magnesium is the foods we eat every day. The reason why this topic is so important is that, interestingly enough, more than half of Americans are deficient in this key nutrient. Magnesium deficiencies are very difficult to determine from blood work due to the fact that less than 1 percent is in the blood. Therefore, looking for symptoms is one of the best ways to identify your levels. Inability to sleep, irritability, muscle cramps, anxiety and irregular heartbeats are signs to be aware of. Other symptoms include migraines, chronic fatigue and depression. My goal at ABC Nutrition is to educate our community about the great benefits of magnesium for women and what foods are great sources of this essential mineral.
(A) Restful Sleep: Restless sleep, waking frequently and insomnia are common signs that a woman may be lacking magnesium. Eating foods higher in magnesium will help you sleep more deeply and soundly. One medium avocado provides nearly 58 mg of magnesium, which is more than 13 percent of the recommended intake. Even higher in this mineral are cooked black beans, which provide 120 mg. During taco night, be sure to scoop some black beans and sliced avocado onto your dish to reduce stress and help you sleep!
B) Strong Heart: Magnesium is vital for muscle health and recovery. In fact, about one-third of magnesium is stored in the muscle. What most people don’t realize is that the heart is a muscle that needs to stay strong, just like our arms and legs. By getting enough magnesium, you are helping the heart beat regularly, regulate blood pressure and manage the production of cholesterol. Research has shown that magnesium is an effective blood pressure reducer for those with hypertension and diabetes. Increase your magnesium intake and help make a strong heart. Try eating an ounce of pumpkin seeds for 150 mg of magnesium or two tablespoons of whole flax seeds blended in a shake for 80 mg.
(C) Type 2 Diabetes and Blood Sugar Control: Women with low levels of magnesium are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and weight gain. Magnesium improves insulin sensitivity and can reduce blood glucose levels. In addition, women who are at risk for metabolic syndrome would benefit from a high magnesium diet. Whole grains are great sources of many nutrients including minerals and fiber. Help prevent type 2 diabetes by eating a cup of cooked quinoa with 118 mg of magnesium. You may also enjoy a cup of cooked brown rice, which has 84 mg.
The recommended dietary intake (RDA) for women is 310-320 mg a day and for pregnant women 350-360 mg a day. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to prevent chronic diseases related to magnesium deficiencies. Supplements may be recommended as magnesium is imperative to so many processes in our bodies.
By Bess Berger