Armen Hovsepian, MS, Dietitian Student and Shannon Wright, MS, RD
We hear quite a bit about calcium and iron, but magnesium is also a very important mineral in the body. Most commonly identified as an electrolyte and touted for its role in maintaining mineral balance, magnesium works hand-in-hand with calcium. Magnesium is also involved in over 300 essential metabolic functions making this mineral a key player in energy metabolism. Some of the most important are:
Cellular Energy Production
Magnesium is necessary to breakdown the food we eat, particularly carbohydrate and fat into energy. Magnesium is required by cells to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) the body’s main source of energy†.
Muscle & Nerve Health
While approximately 60% of magnesium is found in bone structure, an important portion is found in the bloodstream (extracellular fluid) where it helps support proper muscle contractions and nerve function†.
Unfortunately, 60% of American adults do not consume adequate amount of this mineral‡. Common food sources of magnesium are: whole grains (brown rice, oat bran, whole wheat), dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and beans. If you do not consume enough of these magnesium-rich foods, a supplement may be beneficial.
Is a Magnesium Supplement Right for Me?
As mentioned above, if your diet is lacking in magnesium-rich foods, a magnesium supplement may be a good choice to ensure your magnesium needs are met. Some populations need magnesium supplementation due to certain medications or health conditions. In either case, it’s always best to talk to your health care professional to determine if magnesium fits into your daily supplement regimen.
‡Fulgoni et al. Food, Fortificants, and Supplements: Where Do Americans Get Their Nutrients? J Nutr. 2011; 141:1847-54.
Are You Getting Enough Calcium?
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become weak and may break from a minor fall, and, may strike at any age. Getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D is one essential step to optimizing bone health. Furthermore, low blood calcium levels may also cause muscle spasms and leg cramps. Bottom line: You do need to get enough calcium every day for good health and to maintain strong healthy bones for life.
Good Health and Vitamin D
Vitamin D has emerged as the “star supplement” because of its many nutritional benefits for both men and women. Vitamin D plays a key role in the proper absorption of calcium for strong bones and teeth. This important vitamin also enhances immune system strength in adults. Unfortunately, too many Americans are not getting enough of this “star supplement.”
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