Magnesium is an incredible mineral. It is involved in over 300 reactions in the human body. Magnesium actually accounts for 1% of our body weight so clearly it is important. Most of the magnesium in our bodies is found in our bones and soft tissues. Only about 1% is found in the fluid compartments of the body.
What does it do?
As stated above, magnesium is critically important in many systems in the body. It is involved in regulating DNA synthesis, energy production, protein synthesis, muscle contraction, and blood sugar regulation. Additionally, it is critical for a process called vascular reactivity. Without vascular reactivity our vessels cannot adapt to changes in the internal environment and that’s the first step to the formation of plaques in the arteries. If this continues, our vessels become blocked and heart attack or stroke is the result. Similarly, magnesium inhibits the formation of clots. If you are low in magnesium, you may easily develop heart disease.
Are you low?
Symptoms of low magnesium include nausea, vomiting, headache, low appetite, muscle weakness, spasms and tremor, mental confusion or personality changes. Additionally, if severe, balance and gait problems, cardiac arrhythmias, rapid heart rate and seizures may occur. Poor intake of magnesium has been associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
How to test your levels
There are several ways to test for magnesium levels. I will discuss two of them. The first is called serum magnesium. This measures the amount of magnesium in the serum (fluid) part of the blood. Remember, blood is made of two part – fluid (mostly water) and cells. This measurement is not always reflective of total magnesium stores. As a matter of fact, normal serum levels may be present despite severe cellular deficits. So what is one to do? You must check red blood cell (RBC) levels of magnesium. This is also a blood test, but it is far more reflective of your true magnesium status than serum levels are. Essentially this test measures the magnesium that your cells have, not simply what’s in the fluid part of your blood.
Magnesium is found in a variety of foods. Below is a list of magnesium-rich foods.
- Navy beans
- Pinto beans
- Garbanzo beans
- Brown rice
Magnesium is very important. If your intake is low, you are putting yourself at risk for heart disease. Consider adding the above foods to your diet or the possibility of a magnesium supplement.