Magnesium, the eighth most abundant element in the earth’s crust, is a crucial element for the body’s normal functioning. Historically, magnesium carbonate was used to soothe an upset stomach, but today scientists recognize that magnesium is needed for over 300 reactions in the body, including protein and nucleic acid (DNA and RNA) synthesis, metabolism, nerve function, muscle contraction, and a normal heartbeat.
Magnesium can be found in many common food sources, including leafy green vegetables, nuts, beans, peas, soybeans, and whole grain cereals. Magnesium levels are typically higher in unprocessed food, as processing can strip a food (such as a grain) of its magnesium, and before cooking. A high fat diet can also preclude magnesium absorption in he gut.
Although a balanced diet should provide an appropriate amount of magnesium daily, many Americans are not ingesting enough. Daily recommended amounts of magnesium vary by age, sex, and physical condition (i.e., pregnancy). Symptoms of low magnesium include irritability, muscle weakness, and irregular heartbeat. Before starting any supplements, it is important to discuss with your doctor how much magnesium you should take in during a day and your current diet to determine an appropriate dose.
Magnesium supplementation can be beneficial for patients suffering from hypertension, pre-diabetes and diabetes mellitus, pre-menstrual syndrome, migraine headaches, depression, and anxiety. It also can alleviate symptoms such as muscle cramping, constipation, kidney stones, osteoporosis, insomnia, fibromyalgia, and asthma. Supplements are typically taken orally (by prescription or over the counter), but magnesium injections supervised by a healthcare professional are also available.
It is possible to injest too much magnesium or for magnesium to interact with other medications. Symtoms of a magnesium overdose include nausea, diarrhea, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, and fatigue. High levels of magnesium as found in a supplement can also interact unfavorably with diuretics, heart medications, thyroid medications, or antibiotics. Very high doses of magnesium can be fatal. Remember to speak with your doctor before starting a magnesium supplement.
Research done by Ms. Christina Perri
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