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Hot Topic: Magnesium deficiency

Function of magnesium in the human body 

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and one of six macro-minerals needed by the body in larger amounts. The other five major minerals are calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorous and chloride.

It is a co-factor in over 300 functions in the body regulating a range of biochemical reactions. Magnesium is involved in maintaining normal nerve and muscle function; it aids protein synthesis and production of energy, and supports a healthy immune system and bone development. It is also involved in the maintenance of normal heart rhythm, and the regulation of glucose and blood pressure.

Food Sources of magnesium

Most dietary magnesium comes from vegetables, such as dark green, leafy vegetables. Other foods that are good sources of magnesium:

However, researchers have found that the average Mg absorption by the digestive system, and therefore the amount the body actually uses, is only 20 to 50% of the amount ingested. Several factors can limit the amount of Mg obtained from food sources:           

 Prevalence of inadequate magnesium intake

Hypomagnesaemia (clinical deficiency) is rare (prevalent in around 2.5-15% in the general population) but can occur in people who abuse alcohol or those who absorb less Mg due to burns, medications, low blood levels of calcium or have problems absorbing nutrients from the intestinal tract.

However, it is clear from current research that, whilst it is the second most abundant mineral inside our cells, the average American diet contains ~50% of the recommended daily allowance and ~75% of the population consumes a Mg insufficient diet. In the UK, 7 out of 10 women are reported as having an inadequate intake.

Effect of magnesium supplementation on health and wellbeing

Current health recommendations suggest an intake of 270 mg for adult females and 300 mg for adult males (UK RDA). Human studies investigating the effect Mg has in the human body are extensive and evidence is still emerging. Due to the large number of functions Mg plays in the regulation of biochemical