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Magnesium is an important but often overlooked nutrient for your body.

It’s magnesium that helps:

  • regulate your blood pressure
  • regulate blood sugar levels, which can help improve your insulin efficiency
  • build strong bones
  • and, consequently, reduce bone fractures

When you exercise regularly, getting plenty of magnesium in your diet can improve your endurance and help you recover faster from intense workout sessions. We can lose magnesium through sweating, so raising your magnesium intake helps maintain beneficial levels.

How much magnesium do I need?

Unfortunately, because the average American diet these days contains an overload of processed foods, which are very low in magnesium, many men and women are not getting a sufficient amount each day. It’s also worth noting that older folks in particular are prone to magnesium deficiency as well.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for men is 420 mg and 320 mg for women.

Natural sources are common and delicious

Does this mean you should run to the store and pick up magnesium pills? Not necessarily. Magnesium is found in many foods that are already a part of the YOU%2B diet. This includes:

  • Nuts, especially almonds, cashews and peanuts
  • Green, leafy vegetables, like kale and spinach
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Seeds, pumpkin and squash seeds in particular are great sources

Those categories cover a lot of great food options that you may already be taking advantage of, and is just one more reason why salads are so good for you. If you’d like a complete list of foods and their magnesium content, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides one as part of their National Nutrient Database.

Am I magnesium deficient?

Well, if you’re not getting the RDA of magnesium, then yes. If you are an avid exerciser you could be deficient as well. There are symptoms of magnesium deficiency, though these only present from a prolonged lack of the mineral. These include a loss of appetite, nausea and fatigue. Of course, since those symptoms are common to lots of other possible problems, it’s best not to immediately assume that some bad shellfish or one too many cocktails from last night isn’t the cause.

To supplement or not to supplement

When possible, it’s best to get your nutrients from natural sources (food and drinks) rather than pills, and the same is true for magnesium. With that said, magnesium supplements are far better than no magnesium at all. They can also be a great way to boost your magnesium levels without forcing yourself to scarf down extra helpings of lima beans (which, despite popular sentiment and picky children, are delicious).

Magnesium is present in many multivitamins you can buy at the store. However, as discussed in more detail here, multivitamins underperform in terms of health benefits and provide lots of stuff you don’t really need. Of course, you can buy multivitamins that will work to increase the level of a particular nutrient, like magnesium.

They’re no miracle cure, though, so don’t let wild claims fool you. In fact, because people feel like they are getting all the nutrients they need from pills, multivitamins can lead to an increased risk of unhealthy eating or overeating. If you are magnesium deficient, stick to sources that don’t also include lots of things you don’t need or are potentially harmful.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the most easily absorbed types of magnesium are:

  • Magnesium aspartate
  • Magnesium citrate
  • Magnesium lactate
  • Magnesium chloride

You should look for these by checking the label on supplements before buying.

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