Magnesium is one of the most critical minerals in the body. It plays a vital role in over 600 enzyme systems that regulate various biochemical reactions in the body. The mineral is also well-known for promoting benefits to your wellness, such as muscle contraction and relaxation management.
Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Magnesium
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of magnesium for healthy adults is between 310 mg and 420 mg daily. While most people can meet their needs entirely from food sources, supplementation may be required in some cases. That said, it's worth noting that undesirable problems may occur as a result of taking too much magnesium in the form of supplements. Getting too much magnesium from food does not pose any harm because the kidneys can maintain the balance of magnesium, but this is not the case for excess magnesium coming from supplements, which can cause symptoms such as nausea.
Monitor Your Magnesium
Magnesium plays an essential role in protein synthesis, genetic material formation (i.e., DNA and RNA), energy production, brain communication, and muscle and nerve cell functions. It also aids in muscle contraction and relaxation.
Magnesium ranks fourth among the most abundant minerals in the human body. It is naturally found in soil, sea, plants, and animals. Out of the nearly 60% of magnesium in our body, only 1% remains in our blood. As a result, a standard blood test cannot instantly provide a complete picture of our body’s magnesium levels. An alternative testing approach exists in the form of urine magnesium tests. Unlike blood magnesium tests, urine magnesium tests are fully capable of helping us identify and manage dietary magnesium deficiency.
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That said, detecting magnesium deficiency can be tricky in general, as having a magnesium deficiency does not create any observable signs or symptoms, and symptoms only appear when levels are extremely low.
The causes of having a magnesium deficiency can vary, but inadequate and unbalanced nutrition is a significant factor. Excessive magnesium loss can occur through excretion, as well as due to poor absorption and alcoholism.
Given that magnesium is a major contributor to various functions in metabolism and that magnesium cannot be produced by the body, it is important to be mindful of your intake. Low magnesium levels can translate into symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite, and muscle cramps, so it is, therefore, important to check your magnesium levels regularly to avoid disrupting normal body functions.
Magnesium (Mg) in Urine
Although many people fail to consume enough magnesium in their diets, dietary studies show that magnesium deficiency is rare. Magnesium deficiency is often related to urinary and gastrointestinal system problems. These issues cause magnesium loss, low magnesium absorption, or chronically low magnesium intake. For example, high alcohol consumption and certain antibiotics and medications can increase magnesium loss through urine.
Low-Level Magnesium in Urine
What is considered a low level of magnesium can vary from person to person, depending on their lifestyle choices? It's also worth noting magnesium requirements can increase with age and/or when dealing with certain gastrointestinal situations. When left untreated, chronic magnesium insufficiency can result in the body drawing on magnesium stores in the bones and, as a result, weaken the bones.
Recent studies show that insufficient magnesium intake is more common in today’s population compared in the past. This is likely due to a combination of unhealthy eating habits and a reduction in the amount of magnesium naturally available in different sources of food due to environmental factors.
Causes of Mg Deficiency
Factors that can cause magnesium deficiency include:
- Inadequate consumption of foods containing magnesium
- Bowel problems
- Excessive stress
- Cigarette, alcohol, and drug addiction
- Sweat loss
Long Term Consequences of Mg Loss
While many people experience very few symptoms of magnesium deficiency, it can cause problems for some. Early signs of magnesium deficiency include fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, and nausea. If left unrecovered, Mg deficiency can lead to the following long-term problems:
- Muscle cramps
- Low mood
Optimal Magnesium Levels in Urine
You should consume magnesium at regular intervals to maintain adequate levels in the body. The amount of magnesium the body needs depends on age and biological sex. Average daily recommended amounts are listed below in milligrams (mg):
Table 1: Average daily recommended amounts of Magnesium (mg)
|Biological Sex||Recommended Amount|
|During pregnancy||350–360 mg|
Magnesium levels in the body can impact your metabolic function.
In general, adults who are eating a healthy and balanced diet will likely not need to consume additional magnesium. That said, those who experience issues that cause excessive magnesium loss or low magnesium absorption will likely need to take additional magnesium.
Maintaining an Optimal Level of Magnesium
The benefits of maintaining an optimal level of magnesium in the body include:
- Controlling hormones and food intake
- Increasing the functionality of calcium and potassium in the body
- Protecting our cells from harmful elements
High Urine Magnesium
Too much magnesium from foods isn’t typically a health concern for healthy adults. That’s because excess amounts of the mineral can be excreted from the body. However, the same can’t be said for the overuse of magnesium supplements. More specifically, high doses of magnesium taken via medications or supplements can cause problems like nausea and muscle weakness.
Possible Causes of Excessive Magnesium Intake
Potential causes of excessive magnesium intake include:
- Use of medications containing magnesium
- Calcium deficiency
Magnesium and Healthy Diets
As the body easily absorbs magnesium, you can easily meet your daily magnesium requirements by eating a balanced diet. The body absorbs approximately 40-60% of magnesium in foods.
Magnesium-rich foods include dark green leafy vegetables, spinach, hazelnuts, walnuts, dried apricots, almonds, poppy seeds, arugula, turnip, eggplant, dates, leeks, celery, beans, peas, soybeans, milk, yogurt, nuts, bananas, avocados, dark chocolate, sunflower seeds, sesame, and whole-grain cereal. That said, be mindful of your food's oxalate and phytate content which is typically found in vegetables and grains. These compounds bind to magnesium and iron and thus impact your body's ability to absorb them.
The best way to ensure adequate magnesium consumption is to eat a whole foods diet. It is because many foods can lose their magnesium value during preparation and processing that many people rely on magnesium supplements to increase their magnesium intake.