June 2018




    Magnesium keeps you strong and energized, yet most active people aren’t getting enough.  Here are the best ways to increase your intake of this powerful nutrient.



    Long overlooked while calcium soaked up the spotlight, magnesium is finally getting some much-deserved attention from experts.  Recent studies show that it helps boost muscle power, endurance and sleep, all while reducing anxiety and even your cancer risk.   But most of us are coming up short on the power mineral.  Roughly 75% of people don’t get enough.  If you’re eating less than 1800 calories a day, avoiding grains, or not loading up on leafy greens, there’s a good chance you’re one of them.  Surprisingly, exercise creates even more of a deficiency.  You lose magnesium through sweat, and If you work out regularly, those losses can add up. 


    That’s a big problem because magnesium is crucial for health and fitness.  It plays an essential role in energy metabolism.  Without it your muscles can’t get energy from the food you eat, leading to fatigue and lack of endurance.  Your muscles also need magnesium to function properly.  It helps them take in oxygen, is necessary for maintaining electrolyte balance, and works with calcium to ensure that the muscles contract and relax properly during activities.  A magnesium deficiency can impair your ability to exercise, and it can also sap your z’s.  Twitchy, tight muscles make you hyperalert and irritable, which can lead to trouble falling or staying asleep.  Magnesium affects your mood, too.  Those who get more of the mineral are happier and more resilient to stress than others.  Finally, studies should the metal may even help prevent certain types of cancer.  Here’s how: When you’re deficient in magnesium, your body experiences oxidative stress, which produces inflammation, a risk factor for cancer development and growth.  Getting enough of the mineral keeps inflammation in check.  Not only that, but the foods that contain magnesium: leafy greens, nuts and seeds, whole grains, also tend to be amazing sources of phytonutrients that we know help lower cancer risk and improve digestive tract health.  The good news is that it takes just a few simple tweaks to boost your magnesium intake.  Use this checklist to get fortified.


    Figure out exactly how much you need.  The recommended amount of magnesium is 310-320 mg a day, but if you exercise heavily, you may need up to 600.   A good rule of thumb: Increase your intake by about 100 milligrams for every 45 minutes of daily exercise you get.  If you still experience symptoms like chronic fatigue, muscle cramps, or anxiety, add another 50 milligrams per day (increasing the amount by too much all at once can upset your stomach).  Repeat every 1-2 weeks until the symptoms go away.

    Eat these foods. Green, leafy vegetables are a top source of magnesium; just eat them raw or lightly steamed to avoid losing too much nutrition.  Other good sources: seeds, nuts, grains and even cocoa.  Choose raw spinach, dried pumpkin seeds, almonds, cocoa powder and cooked amaranth.

    Fill in the gaps.  If you struggle to get enough magnesium from food, it’s fine to take a supplement.  Look for magnesium gluconate or magnesium chloride, as they are less likely to cause stomach upset than magnesium oxide.  Start with a low dosage so you can slowly increase your daily intake and take it at night to minimize any GI-related side effects.  But aim to get no more than 50% of your total magnesium intake from supplements.  Whole-food sources are best because they also contain zinc, copper and other nutrients that all work together in the body.

    Mirel Ketchiff