Eating for Health

Published on January 28th, 2014 | by Becky Striepe


Magnesium deficiency is more common than you think.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, 68 to 80 percent of Americans have magnesium deficiency. Here’s how to make sure you’re not part of that population!

Do you have magnesium deficiency?

If you often feel weak, fatigued or irritable (or get lots of headaches) you could be low on magnesium. Cardiovascular disease has even been linked to low levels of magnesium. If you are a migraine sufferer you’ve probably heard about magnesium deficiency. The two are thought to be linked.

I don’t know what’s going on lately, but I feel like I keep ending up talking with friends about magnesium deficiency. My friend Sally takes megadoses of magnesium when she feels a migraine coming on, and I was just recommending it to another girlfriend to help with edema. When I was pregnant, magnesium supplements made a humongous difference for me when it came to my poor swollen feet and ankles. Make sure you talk to your gynecologist, though, because there is such a thing as too much magnesium when you’re pregnant.

Magnesium is necessary for over 300 our body’s functions, Maintaining energy, regulating the nervous system, balancing hormones, and supporting heart and blood vessel health among them. This mineral also helps to regulate blood pressure, supports bone health, and relieves constipation.

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

So, how can you tell if you have a magnesium deficiency? Looking at the numbers above, you’re pretty much safe in assuming that you do. Some of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency are:

  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • weakness
  • extremely painful cramps during your period
  • muscle spasms or tightness
  • heart disease
  • anorexia
  • sugar cravings
  • hypertension
  • anxiety
  • poor nail growth

Of course, those symptoms can mean a lot of things, so your best bet if you suspect that you’re magnesium deficient is to talk to your doctor and get a blood test.

You can get your daily dose of magnesium from magnesium-rich foods of by taking a magnesium supplement. VegLife makes a three times-a-day magnesium supplement that contains 400mg per three capsules. If you’d rather meet your magnesium needs through diet, try these magnesium-rich foods.

Eating Magnesium-Rich Foods

The RDA for magnesium – like with most vitamins and minerals – varies by age and gender. Depending on age, adult women need between 300 and 360mg daily, while men need between 400 and 420mg.  To hit your daily magnesium needs, add five servings of these magnesium-rich foods to your diet daily:

  • 2 organic bananas
  • 1 cup kidney or black beans
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 cup brown rice or lentils
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • ½ cup spinach

To ward off magnesium depletion keep caffeine, sugar, processed foods, and alcohol to a minimum. If you need a late-afternoon caffeine kick, try substituting your afternoon cup of joe for green tea.  It contains, among other good for you stuff, a healthy dose of magnesium.

{Image Credit: Quinoa photo via Shutterstock}

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .

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