Meeting the daily recommended amount of vital nutrients is a must at any age, but this becomes even more important as you age. As you age in numbers, your body ages too and now more than ever you need to nourish it to keep it healthy and strong.
One key nutrient your body needs is magnesium. It is a micronutrient necessary for about 300 biochemical reactions and other body functions, such as:
- Regulation of blood pressure
- Regulation of blood sugar
- Helps to normalize heart rhythm
- Protein synthesis
- DNA and RNA synthesis
- Energy production
- Maintenance of muscle and nerve functions
- Retaining bone mineral density
Magnesium is found in your body. Approximately 50 to 60 percent of magnesium is found in your bones while the remaining percentage is found in soft tissues. Still, it is important to eat foods rich in magnesium to use for various body functions and to prevent magnesium deficiency which can have serious effects on your health.
On a daily basis, men over 50 need 420 grams of magnesium while women of the same age are recommended an intake of 320 grams of magnesium. Good food sources of magnesium vary from animal to plant food sources. These include:
- Dark green, leafy vegetables
- Fruits (avocados, bananas, and apricots)
- Whole grains
- Soy and soy products
Meeting the daily recommended magnesium intake by eating these foods can be a struggle for some people. What’s more, consumption of certain types of foods can contribute to low magnesium intake. Along with eating magnesium-rich foods, you should also avoid foods that reduce magnesium absorption which include:
- Carbonated drinks- they contain phosphates that bind with magnesium making the nutrient unavailable for use.
- Foods containing refined sugar- contain little to no nutrients and encourage excretion of magnesium by the kidneys.
- Caffeinated drinks- encourage excretion of magnesium by the kidneys.
- Foods high in saturated fat- inhibit absorption of magnesium in the digestive tract.
Apart from these foods, other things that reduce magnesium intake include:
- Alcohol- encourages excretion of magnesium by the kidneys.
- Stress- your body consumes magnesium to deal with stress.
- Certain drugs- diuretics, asthma and heart medications, corticosteroids, and birth control pills make you lose magnesium through excretion by the kidneys.
Poor intake of magnesium-rich foods and high intake of foods that reduce magnesium absorption increases your risk of magnesium deficiency. By then, you can tell if you are getting enough magnesium or not.
Magnesium deficiency is not easy to detect using blood tests because only a small percentage of magnesium is found in the blood. Special procedures are required to determine magnesium levels in your body therefore you need to observant with your diet and watch out for signs of low magnesium levels, such as:
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle cramps
- Facial tics
- Irregular heart rhythm
Furthermore, habitual poor intake of magnesium can cause changes in your body’s biochemical pathways which can increase your risk of developing a disease over time. Diseases related to poor magnesium intake include type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, migraine headaches, and osteoporosis.
Severe magnesium deficiency occurs rarely, but worse things can still happen to people who are magnesium deficient. It is never too late in taking a proactive approach on increasing your magnesium intake.
Eating foods high in magnesium and avoiding unhealthy foods and habits is the best way to meet your daily recommended intake. But, as an older adult you may find it difficult to meet your daily calcium needs from your diet alone. Other than low magnesium dietary intake, there are several age-related factors that can get in the way to optimum absorption of magnesium from the foods you eat.
Intake of magnesium supplements along with a healthy and nutrient balanced diet is your next best recourse.
Before taking magnesium supplement, ask your doctor first especially if you already suffer from chronic diseases and if you are taking medications for your illness. Magnesium can interact with some prescription drugs.
Ask your doctors about possible side-effects and do not take more than the recommended dosage. You can overdose from magnesium. Diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, muscle weakness, and low blood pressure indicate magnesium overdose. When taken at very high doses, the result can be fatal.