Before doing research on magnesium, I didn’t really know much. My mom, who is a registered nurse in psychology, does a lot of research since her and my sister both eat grain-free. She alerted me to the fact that once you eliminate gluten or grains from your diet – you’re probably not getting enough magnesium! It took me a few months to finally dig into some research but now I feel much more informed! I hope the following information will be helpful to you!
What Is Magnesium and How Much Should I Be Getting?
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements,
“Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is essential to good health. Approximately 50% of total body magnesium is found in bone. The other half is found predominantly inside cells of body tissues and organs. Only 1% of magnesium is found in blood, but the body works very hard to keep blood levels of magnesium constant
Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis…Magnesium is excreted through the kidneys. “
How do we get magnesium? Whole foods are always the best option. This includes (while keeping up my grain-free diet):
- Blackeye peas
- Pinto peas
- Many sources recommend a wheat cereal, whole grains or bran but I do not eat any of that.
As for recommended daily intake, I (a 26 year old female) should be getting about 310 mg of magnesium per day (find out your recommended daily amount here). If I were to look at my diet, I should be eating the following every day to attain my recommended amount:
- 1 ounce of almonds, dry roasted (80mg)
- 1/2 cup of spinach (78mg)
- 1/2 cup of blackeye peas (46mg)
- 1/2 cup of lentils (36 mg)
- 1 raw banana (32 mg)
- 1/2 cup of avocado (22 mg)
- 3 ounces of halibut (24 mg)
I don’t know about you but that’s a lot of food that I don’t necessarily want to incorporate into my diet every single day. Obviously I’d love to eat most of it but to prepare, cook and sit down for all of that probably won’t happen. Later in this post, I’ll go over how to get more magnesium in your diet without cooking all of that.
Why Aren’t We Getting Enough Magnesium Today?
Unfortunately, many of us aren’t getting enough magnesium due to our soil and farming practices. Our modern soil is very depleted. This is due to farming methods which employ chemical fertilizer, and due to monocropping [source]. According to Dr. Norman Shealy, M.D. Ph.D, “The soil in every country in the world except Egypt has been farmed to a point of magnesium depletion.” Yikes.
Personally, I went gluten-free over a year ago to avoid our modern wheat (which is NOT the same kind of wheat that our grandparents consumed as children). Now that I avoid most grains – I’m obviously not getting enough magnesium.
Other reasons that we’re not getting enough magnesium: Caffeine, soda, alcohol and sugar all waste magnesium in our system. Mercury and fluoride prevent your body from absorbing it. The calcium and magnesium intake is a balancing act. Too much calcium throws your body’s ability to absorb magnesium.
How I Can Get More Magnesium Into My System
Since I’m not going to be eating whole grains, I’ve found great ways to get more magnesium into my body.
- Take dark, leafy vegetables and incorporate them into a juicing routine. If you don’t know much about juicing, read Mary’s article here. It’s a great way to get everything you need from vegetables and fruits without chewing/eating piles at a time.
- Soak your body or just your feet in an epsom salt bath. Epsom salts are a great source of magnesium and your body actually absorbs it better through the skin (vs orally). For a full bath, add two cups of Epsom salt and soak for at least 12 minutes. Do this three times weekly. For just a foot soak, add 1/2 cup of Epsom salt to a large pan of warm water. Soak feet for as long as it feels right. Rinse and dry. If you have pets or small children, make sure you clean up and even rise your feet/body off well after so that they don’t take any in orally.
- Use magnesium oils. I know many people apply these directly to the skin. There are many brands out there so I don’t really have a recommendation. I would say (just like to all products) to look at the ingredients and ask around.
In summary, realize that modern farming methods + recent dietary restrictions (gluten/grain reduction) have significantly reduced the amount of magnesium in our daily diet. Here at Considering You, we don’t try to overwhelm you with lists and restrictions – but rather a whole picture to keep in mind when approaching a healthy lifestyle. Keep in mind that many publications will push cereals or other manmade products that have “added nutrients” to increase your magnesium intake. Avoid relying on products like this and realize that you can get a better source from whole foods.
Other great resources on magnesium: