For most people, magnesium deficiency isn’t at the top of their health concerns. After all, it’s pretty uncommon to have a magnesium deficiency as a result of diet because the kidneys limit the mineral’s excretion, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. But it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. And if you are deficient, it can cause a host of health issues.
Certain groups, including older adults, are particularly at risk for deficiency. This is because as we age, our guts absorb less magnesium and our kidneys excrete more of it. People with type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal problems and alcohol dependency are also at risk for a deficiency. Excess caffeine, salt and stress can also contribute to lower levels of the mineral, says the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM). In general, Americans don’t consume enough magnesium—in fact, research has shown that 48 percent of the U.S. population consumed less than the required amount of magnesium from food between 2005 and 2006.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center advises including at least 400 mg of magnesium in your diet each day from magnesium-rich foods including milk, oatmeal, broccoli, spinach, almonds and bananas. Also keep in mind that magnesium and calcium are a team, so be sure to include a balanced mix of both in your diet. Wellness Today suggests a 2:1 or 1:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium.
Here are just a few health issues that have been linked to magnesium deficiency:
Low magnesium levels may be a risk factor for migraine headaches. According to the National Institutes of Health, people with migraines have been found to have lower levels of tissue magnesium than non-headache sufferers.
Low magnesium levels have also been linked to anxiety and depression. A study published in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found a “significant association” between very low magnesium intake and depression. This was particularly true for younger adults, the study said.
Magnesium also plays a role in heart health. According to UMM, studies have suggested that more magnesium can slightly lower the risk of coronary heart disease in men. Research has also suggested that magnesium supplements can help lower blood pressure in women, but the study results have been conflicting.
A low-magnesium diet has been linked to sleep issues. A study found that magnesium supplements improved insomnia issues such as sleep time and early-morning waking in elderly people.
Do you pay attention to your magnesium intake? Tell us here.