Magnesium: Essential for the Body

October 8, 2010

Magnesium is an essential mineral for the body that many Americans may not be getting enough of, according to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) recent report on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.

Magnesium is an essential mineral for the body that many Americans may not be getting enough of, according to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) recent report on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Magnesium can be found in a variety of foods such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, cooked dry beans and peas, and milk products, and consumers could benefit from more food products containing it.

Magnesium supports the formation of bone and teeth by assisting with the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. This process is especially important in young children. However, one of the primary shortfall nutrients for children, most notably adolescents, is magnesium, reported the DGAC according to food-intake data analysis of school-aged children from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Due to the importance of magnesium for bones and teeth, it is crucial that children receive an adequate amount of this vital mineral.

In addition to supporting healthy bone and teeth formation, magnesium provides several other health benefits, including aiding against heart attacks. Magnesium and calcium control the heartbeat. Calcium causes the heart to contract, while magnesium relaxes the heart. When the body is deficient in magnesium, the beating of the heart is inconsistent. As a result, the heart cannot relax and may spasm or cramp up, increasing potential for a heart attack. Americans can take precautions against this by increasing their magnesium intake.

Magnesium also has a critical function for people suffering from type 2 adult-onset diabetes. It ensures the proper conversion of blood sugar to energy by supporting insulin production.

Magnesium is also an essential mineral required for the energy process that results in proper cell function. Magnesium is second only to potassium as the most abundant, positively charged ion within the cell and can be found to some extent in all tissues and organs.

Since up to 75% of the U.S. population consumes less magnesium than recommended, making sure food products contain adequate amounts of this mineral is vital in helping consumers meet their Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). This is especially important considering that processed foods are typically lower in essential minerals such as magnesium.

The RDA for Americans ranges, depending on age. Adult males ages 19 to 30 should have 400 mg of magnesium, while those over 31 years of age should get 420 mg. Adult females ages 19 to 30 should have 310 mg, while those over 31 years old should receive 320 mg. Getting the proper RDA can help keep consumers healthy.