Magnesium is a mineral you can find in many foods and it is very important for our body. It helps our neural and muscular activity, our skeleton, our blood pressure, the metabolism of fats and the synthesis of proteins.
It is a macronutrient, present by 60% in our bones and by 1% in our muscles and blood. Magnesium is absorbed by our small intestine and then filtered by kidneys. Our body rejects it through urine, faeces and sweat.
“Magnesium is a fundamental mineral. Thus our body tends to keep its quantity in the cells constant by compensating losses through supplies in bones and in the liver”, Doctor Manuela Pastore, a dietitian at Humanitas, explained in an interview for the newspaper “Corriere della Sera”.
Low magnesium in the body has no specific symptoms, because they may also be caused by many other disorders. Thus, the actual diagnosis requires blood exams to measure how much magnesium is present in plasma.
In general, we should pay attention to symptoms such as malaise, fatigue, nausea, lack of appetite, muscular weakness, abdominal cramps, shaking and lack of coordination, palpitations, as well as depression, irritability and lack of sleep.
“If necessary, your doctor will recommend a magnesium-rich diet or the intake of supplements. You should avoid self-help when it comes to supplements, and choose instead to go to your doctor”, Doctor Pastore recommends.
In general, a rich, balanced diet is enough to give your body the amount of magnesium it needs. Foods containing it are green-leaved vegetables (such as spinach and chard), as well as artichokes, broccoli, cabbages and cauliflowers.
“The other big source of magnesium is the group of grain-based products, such as wholemeal pasta and rice. It’s important that they be wholemeal. In fact, refined grains lack bran and wheat germ, and thus almost 80% of their total magnesium”, the specialist points out.
Legumes are also important. In particular peas, black beans, lentils and chickpeas, as well as nuts (such as almonds, cashews, pistachios and chestnuts). Bran contains magnesium, as well as cocoa, black chocolate and mineral-rich waters.
Fruit is not rich in magnesium, apart from bananas, figs, peaches and avocados. Products of animal origin, such as meat, fish, milk and dairy products also lack magnesium.
“Unfortunately, foods that are rich in fibres, oxalates and phytates may reduce the bioavailability of magnesium, because they bond to it limiting its absorption, and thus making our body incapable of using it all”, Doctor Pastore highlights.