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16 Reasons You Should Take Magnesium Rich Foods Every Day

Cardionomic Circuit

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Carrie Lam, MD; Jeremy Lam, MD

An image of various food high in magnesium arranged around a wood signMagnesium is one of the seven essential macrominerals which our body needs for optimal health, and which most people are deficient in. Even though many people try to compensate by taking magnesium supplements, they are known to interact with different drugs. It is therefore much safer and healthier to get adequate quantities from magnesium rich foods.

Magnesium is found throughout our body, but most of it, about 50%, is found in the bones. It performs some very important functions and is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. This explains why including magnesium rich foods in your diet is essential for optimal health.

Health Benefits of Magnesium and How to Prevent Magnesium Deficiency

Although it's possible to get sufficient amounts of this essential mineral from magnesium rich foods, how much magnesium your body needs, may depend on your lifestyle as well as on your overall health. For example, magnesium deficiency is quite common in those who lead a very stressful life and have unhealthy eating habits. Also, certain conditions, like parathyroid problems, kidney disease, and Crohn's disease may cause severe magnesium deficiency.

A diet with magnesium rich foods is essential for optimal health. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals and is vital for the proper functioning of the brain, skeletal system, and muscles. It is, however, required in large amounts to prevent many disorders and protect the body from chronic health problems, on a daily basis. The best natural source of magnesium are vegetables, nuts, milk, and whole grains.

Creating a menu based on magnesium rich foods is relatively easy. Here are a few of the foods that are rich in magnesium:

  • Leafy green vegetables (eg. Spinach, Kale)
  • Sea vegetables (eg. Algae)
  • Nuts (eg Pumpkin seeds, Peanuts)
  • Milk products (eg. Yogurt)
  • Whole grains (eg. Buckwheat or Whole wheat with bran and germ, Cornmeal)
  • Fruits and vegetables (eg. Bananas, Tomatoes, Beet greens, Broad beans, Lima beans, Avocados, Artichoke, Sweet potatoes)
  • Fish (eg. Salmon)

A deficiency of magnesium in the body may lead to various deficiency symptoms like neck and back pain, anxiety, fatigue, migraine attacks, muscle weakness and spasms, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, abnormal heart rhythms, loss of appetite, etc. It is crucial to include magnesium rich foods in your diet because a chronic magnesium deficiency may even be a cause of diabetes, depression, and menopausal symptoms.

16 things magnesium rich foods can do for you:

  1. Prevent constipation
  2. Prevent eclamptic seizures
  3. Prevent asthma
  4. Boost energy
  5. Keep your nerves healthy
  6. Relieve muscle cramps
  7. Strengthen bones
  8. Protect heart health
  9. An image of a woman holding her back being examined by a doctorReduce osteoporosis and relieves back pain
  10. Maintain stable sugar level and helps manage diabetes
  11. Help reduce stress, anxiety, and panic attacks
  12. Relieve migraines
  13. Produce collagen
  14. Promote mineral absorption
  15. Control bladder functions
  16. Relieve premenstrual syndrome

When you know that inadequate magnesium intake can cause many serious health problems such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and insulin resistance, it is worth making the effort to routinely include magnesium rich foods in your daily diet and ensure your body gets enough of this essential mineral.

Stress, in particular, seems to deplete magnesium fast and one of the most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency is chocolate craving since chocolate is rich in this essential mineral.

One of the common causes of magnesium deficiency is an imbalance between calcium and magnesium levels. The fast pace of modern life often makes it difficult to maintain a healthy diet regularly and many people rely on nutritional supplements to sustain good health. As these supplements are easily available over the counter, people often buy them without professional guidance. Without realizing it, this may actually lead to an imbalance of minerals and vitamins in the body. It is very common to take calcium supplements to improve bone health, but by doing so, many people deplete their magnesium reserves unknowingly. In addition, the food industry has started fortifying their foods with extra calcium, by claiming that it is beneficial for the bones and teeth. For example, cereals and milk have added calcium in it. With the extra calcium in the body, the magnesium-calcium balance in the body is altered thereby, making it more important to include magnesium rich foods in the diet.

To understand the calcium-magnesium imbalance even further, if the magnesium-intake is low, the body tends to retain calcium in the body. This means, with time, large amounts of calcium gets accumulated inside the cells, which can cause calcification of the heart and blood vessels. So, if you take calcium supplements you should eat a lot of magnesium rich foods every day, or start taking magnesium supplements as well.

There are different opinions about what ratio should these minerals be taken, but most studies suggest that it is best taking calcium and mineral supplements in a 1:1 ratio. That way you ensure you get enough of both minerals without risking magnesium deficiency or arterial calcification.

How Magnesium Rich Foods Help Reduce Chronic inflammation Caused by Magnesium Deficiency

There are over 100 inflammatory disorders which cause inflammation in the connective tissues or degeneration of these tissues. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis)
  • Asthma
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Colitis
  • Dermatitis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hepatitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Lupus
  • Nephritis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Ulcerative colitis

While under certain circumstances, eg after injury, inflammation is a normal and even a desired reaction, if inflammation becomes chronic and turns into an inflammatory disorder, it can result in the immune system attacking itself causing chronic pain, swelling, or damage to healthy tissues.

A healthy immune system reacts to inflammation by launching a counter-attack and activating the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response in an attempt to destroy the pathogens and keep you healthy. Unfortunately, the immune system “attack” targets not only the invading pathogens, but the healthy tissue as well, and this can cause damage to otherwise healthy organs. If this is allowed to continue for a long time, you may end up with chronic inflammation, debilitating pain, and unexplainable fatigue.

Conventional medicine has still not come up with a long-term solution to chronic inflammation conditions. The best it can offer is temporary relief in the form of pain-killers which do not solve the problem but simply mask the symptoms.

Fortunately, NEM stress response model, as an alternative to steroids and pain-killers, uses natural inflammation remedies and looks at the body as a whole, taking into account how different organ systems interact as well as how they react to stress. According to the NEM model, inflammation is one of the six main circuits in how your body deals with stress.

According to the NEM model approach, inflammation is linked to the ability of your body to detox naturally. One of the benefits of magnesium rich foods is that it helps with a natural detox. In case of a magnesium deficiency, toxins begin to accumulate in the cells. These toxins not only worsens the inflammation but also causes oxidative stress leading to cell damage and cell death. This adds to the build-up of even more toxins and the cycle continues. The body struggles to get rid of these accumulated toxins and it continues to increase the inflammation.

Magnesium is one of the most anti-inflammatory minerals known today, so if you suffer from any of the inflammatory disorders, it makes perfect sense that you should eat as much of the magnesium rich foods as you can.

It is possible to manage and reduce chronic inflammation through a lifestyle change, so before reaching for drugs, examine your diet, stress levels, weight, fitness, and general health.

6 lifestyle changes necessary to avoid inflammation:

  1. Avoid or reduce stress
    A stressful situation triggers an inflammatory response in the body. The adrenal glands are instantly activated by any kind of stress which in turn releases a hormone called cortisol. If you often find yourself in the fight-or-flight situation, your adrenal glands and immune system are constantly in overdrive, triggering a chronic inflammation response. Avoid physical and emotional stress if you can otherwise learn to manage it.
  2. Improve your gut health
    This is relatively easy once you start avoiding, or at least limiting, processed foods and staying away from sugar, fats, and carbohydrates. With an anti-inflammatory diet, your gut health can improve in just a few days. Eating at least some of the magnesium rich foods every day will ensure adequate nutrition as well as regular detox.
  3. An image of someone checking their blood sugar levelMaintain steady insulin levels
    Studies suggest that chronic inflammatory disorders are often caused by obesity, which in turn, often triggers the development of type 2 diabetes. Giving up sugar-rich and processed foods will help you keep your insulin levels stable.
  4. Maintain optimum hormonal balance
    Chronic inflammation is particularly common in menopausal women. This inflammatory response occurs due to a hormonal imbalance leading to conditions like osteoporosis and weight gain.
  5. Avoid exposure to toxins
    Regular use of common cleaning products and cosmetics may lead to severe inflammation. These products contain chemicals that are particularly harmful if absorbed directly through the skin or if airborne. Therefore, it is crucial to limit your exposure to polluted air, as well as cigarette smoke.
  6. Manage your weight
    People become overweight either by eating much more than they need, or due to a poor diet rich in processed foods that are full of sugar, fat, and carbohydrates. If you consume high amounts of processed foods, you are at risk of developing potentially debilitating inflammatory conditions.

Unhealthy lifestyle not only causes obesity and chronic inflammation but also keep your adrenals and the immune system permanently activated. This, in turn, leads to depleting energy levels and overproducing cortisol. Sooner or later, your organs will start shutting down causing permanent damage and chronic health problems.

© Copyright 2020 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam's Key Question

Magnesium rich foods ensure you get enough of this essential mineral to maintain a healthy brain function, strong bones, and steady heartbeat. Magnesium prevents muscle cramps and being the most anti-inflammatory mineral, it helps you deal with inflammatory processes and enables the natural detox process.

© Copyright 2001-2021 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
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