Most Americans probably pay a fair amount of attention to their diets. Many Americans keep track of their calorie intake to make sure they’re not eating too much, or they’ll track their macronutrient intake to make sure they’re getting the right balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Some will even make sure that they’re getting the right amount of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, etc. But most people don’t think about getting the right amount of minerals.
Aside from perhaps calcium, most Americans don’t give minerals a second thought. And that’s especially the case for magnesium, a vital mineral that’s necessary for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Many Americans don’t get enough magnesium from their diets, which can lead to deficiency. Severe deficiency can lead to nausea, vomiting, and muscular fatigue and weakness.
Most people won’t suffer from severe deficiency, but their intake may still be inadequate. That can inhibit proper calcium absorption, weaken bones, lead to more plaque buildup in arteries, and increase the risk of developing diabetes. Strenuous exercise and diets high in protein and vitamin D can increase the need for magnesium. Many people report increased levels of energy and better sleep after increasing magnesium intake.
Recommended levels of magnesium intake are 400 mg per day for adult men and 360 mg per day for women. Good dietary sources of magnesium include whole milk, peanut butter, oatmeal, broccoli, spinach, and nuts such as almonds, sunflower seeds, or sesame seeds. But to put that into perspective, 400 mg of magnesium would require you to eat one cup of peanut butter, 4 ounces of sesame seeds, 1 cup of almonds, 0.8 cups of sunflower seeds, 8 cups of broccoli, or drink 3 quarts of milk. So you can see why it’s difficult for many people to get adequate magnesium from diet alone.
Magnesium supplements can be beneficial in helping many people get the amount of magnesium they need, but you have to be careful. As a mineral, only a small percentage of magnesium is able to be absorbed by the body. One of the more common and cheap forms of magnesium supplements is magnesium oxide, which only has about 4% bioavailability. Some of the best forms of magnesium supplements are magnesium citrate and magnesium gluconate, which have bioavailability of 20-25% or more. Given the importance of magnesium to health and the ease of supplementation, there’s no reason for more people not to get adequate magnesium intake.