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By Hilary Sheinbaum
Magnesium sounds familiar, right? Maybe you recognize this word from glancing over the contents of a supplement bottle, or perhaps you learned about this mineral in high school health class. Maybe your friend, boss, family member, or significant other is on a health kick, so you’ve found yourself Googling “What is magnesium?” (Relatable.) Or, you’re looking for help falling asleep (more on that later).
Whichever route led you here, allow us to refresh your memory. “Magnesium is a mineral that plays an important role in more than 300 enzyme reactions in the body,” says Carielle Nikkel, M.S., R.D.N., vice president of nutrition at Persona Nutrition. “It’s essential for healthy blood pressure, glucose metabolism, muscle and nerve function and so much more.”
Not to brag or anything, but Magnesium is a major component in bone, skin and DNA production. “It works with calcium to regulate this rhythm with our skeletal muscle, digestive muscle tissue, heart muscle, and nerves throughout our body,” says Lauren Minchen, MPH, RDN, CDN, nutrition consultant for Freshbit, the AI-driven visual diet diary app.
There are many! Minchen suggests eating spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, baked white potatoes with skin, tofu, black beans, navy beans, chickpeas, edamame, dark chocolate, plain yogurt, banana, wild salmon, wild halibut, and broccoli — all of which contain magnesium. If that grocery list was overwhelming, have no fear: you can buy magnesium in supplement form.
Well, that depends on a few things. “When it comes to selecting the dose or strength of your supplements, it’s important to take several factors into consideration,” says Nikkel. The components she’s referring to include diet, age, activity level, medications, and sunlight exposure. As briefly mentioned, there are a variety of supplement options — all available at pharmacies, health stores and online. There is always ways of getting it in the form of a spray that helps deliver stress- and muscle-easing magnesium to your body. And, to be fair (and healthy): it’s best to touch base with your favorite dietician or doc before starting any kind of new regimen.
Magnesium should be consumed on a daily basis, according to Minchen. “A great target would be about 310-420 mg per day for most adults, with active adults aiming for the upper end of this range or even slightly higher,” she says and explains that magnesium needs increase with greater activity levels. (Again, phone your doc or RD for a specific number.)
Not really, although in rare cases, magnesium in excess can lead to irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, confusion, slowed breathing, coma and death, says Minchen. But, she explains that magnesium is a mineral many of us don’t consume enough of. “There is speculation that our food supply contains less of it than it used to, due to our poor agricultural practices and less nutritious soil,” she says.
At night — especially if you are looking to unwind. “Magnesium from food is great any time of day and can support healthy muscle and nerve function throughout the day. However, if taking magnesium in the form of a magnesium citrate supplement, I would recommend taking this at night,” says Minchen. “This form of magnesium is known to relax muscles and relax the body, preparing it for sleep. Magnesium may play a role in increasing one’s melatonin, so taking a magnesium supplement at night is essential to see this benefit.”
And with that — it’s time for lights out!