on Oct. 4, 2016, 9:23 a.m.
One of the most important minerals is one that most of us aren't paying attention to - and around half of the population is lacking. Magnesium is key for heart health, sleep, and keeping stress at bay and muscles healthy.
Recent studies point out that we aren't getting enough of it, and this may cause insomnia, anxiety, and high blood pressure. "So many patients and doctors are unaware that a deficiency in a simple mineral can lead to so many problems" says Dr. Dennis Goodman, Clinical Assoc. Professor of Cardiology at NYU, Director of Integrative Medicine at New York Medical Associates, and author of the book 'Magnificent Magnesium'. "Some of these, like muscle cramps, are nuisances, but others are major - such as diabetes, obesity, heart attacks, and strokes."
Magnesium helps regulate cortisol (too much can lead to anxiety), melatonin (essential for sleep), and blood pressure, and provides the energy to contract and relax the heart and other muscles. Low magnesium levels can lead to symptoms like exhaustion, irritation, and sleeplessness.
How to Get Extra Magnesium
In 'Magnificent Magnesium,' Dr. Goodman suggests the average person get three milligrams a day for every pound they weigh. If you're deficient, bump that up to five milligrams per pound. Here is his advice on how to get all that magnesium.
If your levels are normal . . .
Eat for magnesium. Good sources include spinach (269 milligrams for one bunch), almonds (124 milligrams for half a cup), dark chocolate (237 milligrams for one bar), and fish (106 milligrams for a salmon fillet). Buy local and organic. The amount of magnesium in plants varies with soil quality. Organic farms use less fertilizer - meaning there's more magnesium in their veggies.
If your levels are low . . .
Take a supplement. "Aim for magnesium that ends in -ate," says Goodman - magnesium citrate, chelate, malate, and sulfate, which are better absorbed than magnesium hydroxide. Diarrhea can be a side effect of magnesium supplements, so opt for slow-release pills, or lower your dose if symptoms continue. If stressed, up your intake. Low magnesium can lead to stress and anxiety, which can further deplete your levels of the mineral.
Watch out for medicine interactions. Magnesium can interact with a number of medicines, including antibiotics and blood pressure medication. Talk to your doctor before making any decision on supplements.