How to Get More Magnesium in Your Diet for Better Sleep, Relaxation and Health

    What is Magnesium

    Magnesium is an essential mineral without which we cannot function. It is deemed essential because our bodies do not produce it and it is involved with hundreds of important bodily processes, including keeping our bones strong, heart healthy, and blood sugar normal. Magnesium also plays a role in energy levels, sleep and immune function.

    Signs of Low Magnesium Levels

    Since magnesium is such a key player in many important functions in the body, low levels can have an effect and may even raise the risk for some health issues. Luckily, magnesium deficiency in otherwise healthy people (eating a balanced diet) is rare. Most of us can get enough magnesium by eating foods such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and soy products. If you think you might have low magnesium levels, your doctor can do a blood test.

    People with low magnesium may experience restless sleep or waking during the night. Maintaining healthy magnesium levels is likely to lead to better sleep because magnesium maintains healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep.

    Feeling a bit stressed, have a headache or PMS? Since magnesium increases GABA, which encourages relaxation, magnesium can lead to stress reduction and mood stabilisation. Research also suggests that magnesium may help improve head pain, including that of migraines, as magnesium deficiency is linked to headaches.

    For heart health and blood sugar control, magnesium helps regulate blood pressure, healthy heart rhythms and blood sugar (in metabolising glucose).

    Especially important as we age, and for women in particular, magnesium plays a critical role in maintaining bone density.

    How Do We Get Magnesium?

    So how do we get magnesium if the body doesn’t produce it and how much do we actually need? We get magnesium through our diet by eating dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, peas and beans, soy products, and whole grains.

    Women need about 310 milligrams of magnesium a day, and 320 milligrams after age 30. Pregnant women need an extra 40 milligrams. Adult men under 31 need 400 milligrams and 420 milligrams if they’re older. Kids need anywhere from 30 to 410 milligrams, depending on their age and gender.

    Food itemApproximate amount of Magnesium
    1 cup of cooked spinach or Swiss chard150 milligrams
    1 ounce of almonds or cashews or other nuts/seeds (about 24 almonds or 18 cashews)80 milligrams
     ½ cup of black beans60 milligrams
    1 cup of soy milk60 milligrams
    ½ cup of firm tofu50 milligrams
    Two slices of whole wheat bread45 milligrams
    1 cup of avocado44 milligrams
    half-cup of brown rice40 milligrams
    ½ cup kidney beans35 milligrams
    ½ cup of cooked oatmeal30 milligrams


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