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Mad about magnesium

Do you need a magnesium supplement?

You may if you:

  • take diuretics, antibiotics or medications for cancer treatment
  • have poorly controlled diabetes
  • drink an excessive amount of alcohol
  • have chronically low blood levels of potassium and calcium
  • have a chronic condition that blocks nutrient absorption, such as Crohn’s disease or gluten sensitivity
  • have had intestinal surgery

Magnesium-rich foods

Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces90 mg
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce80 mg
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce75 mg
Spinach, frozen, cooked, ½ cup75 mg
Mixed nuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce65 mg
Shredded wheat cereal, 2 biscuits55 mg
Oatmeal, prepared with water, 1 cup55 mg
Potato, baked, with skin, 1 medium50 mg
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons50 mg
Yogurt, plain, skim, 8 fluid ounces45 mg
Bran flakes, ¾ cup40 mg
Vegetarian baked beans, ½ cup40 mg
Brown rice, cooked, ½ cup40 mg

Magnesium—it’s a mineral that plays a major role in maintaining heart and bone health, but many Americans don’t get enough of it.

The recommended daily allowance of magnesium is 420 milligrams (mg) of magnesium for men and 320 mg for women. If you’re an older adult, you face a greater risk of lower-than-optimal magnesium levels than younger people do for several reasons. First, as you age, your body loses its ability to absorb as much magnesium as it once did. Second, certain medications like diuretics or antibiotics can interfere with magnesium’s absorption and retention. Finally, you simply may not be eating enough magnesium-rich foods, such as beans, whole grains, nuts and dark green, leafy vegetables.

What’s your body missing out on if you’re not getting enough magnesium? Magnesium helps to:

  • regulate heart rhythm
  • keep bones strong
  • keep nerves and muscles functioning properly
  • regulate metabolism
  • support your immune system so you can fight disease
  • promote normal blood pressure

Recent studies suggest that magnesium also helps regulate insulin.

Fortunately, magnesium deficiency is rare in the United States, although diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders, such as Crohn’s disease, can increase your risk. Early signs of magnesium deficiency include appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and weakness.


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