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Magnesium foods

As physical therapists, we treat muscles and connective tissue.  However, it’s also important to consider nutrition because nutrition directly impacts muscle and soft tissue health.  Often we at Rebalance Physical Therapy have patients that report chronic muscle soreness, eye twitching, leg cramps, and/or constipation.  These symptoms may seem unrelated but according to experts like Dr. Aviva Romm, MD, a wholistic functional medicine practitioner, there could be a natural solution: Magnesium (Mg).  

Why is Magnesium Important?

Did you know that magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body?

It is involved in over 300 enzyme systems that regulate vital functions in our body including energy production, protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, and even regulation of blood pressure.  Magnesium is also crucial in the production of the antioxidant glutathione.  Glutathione helps prevent cellular damage and detoxifies environmental chemicals and estrogens that can interfere with other natural body functions.  A person who is low in magnesium can experience symptoms such as muscle cramping in the calves, painful period cramping, deviations in normal heart rhythm, eye twitching, and constipation. Interestingly, chocolate cravings can also be a sign of low magnesium.  

How can you check to see if you have adequate levels of magnesium?  A standard blood test performed by your doctor can help to determine your blood magnesium level. If you are experiencing symptoms like those listed above, ask your doctor what type of magnesium testing would be most beneficial for you.  

How Can You Get More Magnesium in Your Diet?

In the meantime, what can you do to ensure that you are getting magnesium in your diet? Foods that are rich in Magnesium include kale, legumes, spinach, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.   

Here are some examples of foods that are sources of Magnesium:

  • 28 almonds – has 80 mg of Mg which is 20% of recommended levels of elemental Mg
  • 1/2 cup of steamed spinach – almost 20%
  • 1/2 cup of cooked black beans – 20%
  • Dark chocolate is a source but not a sufficient dietary source of Mg

Other foods that are high in fiber such as whole grains (not processed grains) can be good sources of magnesium.  

Most people feel that eating well should be enough.  Though the foods mentioned above have moderate amounts of Mg, eating each of the items listed above every day still leave you with only half of daily recommended Mg levels. There is also conversation in the medical community that the levels recommended by the FDA may be less than sufficient and we may need to increase Magnesium levels.  In this case, supplements can be beneficial to help support your intake. We recommend that you discuss this with your doctor, just as you should with any supplement, to determine how much to take and if it would interact with any medications you are currently taking. When taking a supplement, you should ask your primary care practitioner to check your blood work and lab values so that you can ensure you are absorbing the supplement you are taking.  Magnesium is a water soluble vitamin, meaning that you will eliminate what you don’t need but, before you start taking it, it’s important to consult with your doctor. 

There are various types and doses of Magnesium that may be recommended for you.  Here is a link for more specific recommendations for types and dosing of magnesium:

Thanks to Dr. Aviva Romm, MD, herbalist and midwife, for the information she provided in her blog and book, which served as references for this information.  If you would like to read more about magnesium or listen to the blog, it is available on her website.  Please be advised that this information should not take the place of your doctor’s advice and that it was provided to give you information to start a conversation with your doctor. If you are not sure where to start with your Magnesium intake, the Rebalance staff can help to direct you to the appropriate practitioners.  Cheers to better poops and muscle relaxation!  

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