One of the things I love about my friends is that we are all equally weird. If you need proof, just today I texted my dietetics friends and asked what their favorite vitamin and/or mineral was… and I was being completely serious. I know you’re dying to know everyone’s answers, so I’ll fill you in:
Kailee: Vitamin D and Sodium
Brittany: Vitamin B12 and Magnesium
Lucas: Protein for those ~gainz~ (this is a joke; protein is not a vitamin or mineral)
Me: Vitamin C and Magnesium
Side note: I promise I have more than three friends.
After mulling over everyone’s answers, I realized that most people are very familiar with everything on our “Favorites” list, with the exception of magnesium. Sure, it’s found on the Periodic Table, but some might not know what it does for our bodies, and what foods it’s found in.
This is where I, a temporarily unemployed, soon-to-be Nutrition Graduate Student, come in. Today I’m going to be talking about magnesium, its benefits for our bodies, and where to find it!
Muscle and Nerve Function:
While magnesium is necessary for hundreds of bodily reactions, a main function is that it aids in maintaining normal muscle and nerve function. Magnesium specifically plays a role in muscle contraction and relaxation (aided by calcium, sodium, and potassium). These processes are important to maximize overall performance, strength, and stamina in physical activity 1. Whether you’re into lifting, or love a great barre class, magnesium plays an important role in the quality of your workout! Another process than can be helped is digestion, due to the normalized relaxation and contraction of intestinal walls. Simply put, magnesium can help ya have better poops. Don’t be shy, it’s something we all want.
I’ll give you the ~science~ version and then I’ll break it down.
Science version: Magnesium is a cofactor for immunoglobulin synthesis.
Translation: Magnesium is a “helper” in the creation of immunoglobulins, which are any type of protein that live in immune system cells, which function as antibodies to fight disease 1.
The takeaway? Magnesium isn’t going to make you invincible to the flu or COVID. But, the magnesium stored in your body will help protect you the next time you go to the grocery store.
Magnesium aids in the body’s oxygen transport. It does this by stabilizing the structure of red blood cells 1, which are largely in charge of carrying oxygen throughout our body. Also, large amounts of magnesium are stored in the mitochondria, which aids in a process called “aerobic respiration”. This is the process of using oxygen to turn food into energy 2.
Simply put: magnesium= oxygen giving our body energy
Side note: never forget that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell
The recommended dietary intake of magnesium for adult men is 400-420 mg/day and 310-320 mg/day for women
Magnesium-rich foods include:
- ½ cup Brazil nuts (250 mg)
- 1 oz Pumpkin seeds (74 mg)
- 1 oz Almonds (80 mg)
- ½ cup Spinach (78 mg)
- 1 oz Cashews (74 mg)
- ¼ cup Peanuts (63 mg)
- 1 cup Soymilk (61 mg)
- ½ cup Black beans (60 mg)
- ½ cup Edamame (50 mg)
- 1 oz Dark chocolate (50 mg)
If you need me, I’ll be eating dark chocolate because, yay magnesium!
1. Carvil P, Cronin J. Magnesium and Implications on Muscle Function. Strength Cond J. 2010;32(1):48-54. doi:10.1519/ssc.0b013e3181c16cdc
2. Katy McLaughlin P. Aerobic Respiration. Biology Dictionary. https://biologydictionary.net/aerobic-respiration/. Published 2020. Accessed June 22, 2020.
3. Magnesium Rich Food. clevelandclinic.org. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15650-magnesium-rich-food. Published 2020. Accessed June 22, 2020.