Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Don't Forget Magnesium

That was the headline of a newpaper article that caught The Captain's eye yesterday morning, in our local paper.  The secondary headline read "Reduce leg cramps, hypertension, and diabetes".  He thought that I should probably read it as I have suffered from leg cramps in the past and do like to keep abreast of the health news about things that affect either of us.

The article goes on to say that studies show that many North Americans are not getting sufficient amounts of magnesium, but that most of us don't even think about it.  And that it can be a fatal error.

"Magnesium is nature's natural muscle relaxant, but this fact went unnoticed for years."

Without rewriting the article here, I will just summarize it by saying that low levels of magnesium can cause angina, and trigger irregular heart rate (auricular fibrillation).  It may also aggravate hypertention (high blood pressure) and is associated with increased insulin resistance.

"... a magnesium deficiency can result in hypertension, muscle cramps, restless leg syndrome, diabetes, migraine attacks, emotional trouble, fatigue and an irregular heart rate."

According to this article, 350 mg of magnesium per day is optimum for health benefits.  It also stated that most of us are not getting this much and should be taking supplements.

Here are the amounts of magnesium in common foods:
  • 1 baked potato with skin - 55 mg
  • 1/2 ounce almonds - 43 mg
  • 1 shredded wheat biscuit - 40 mg
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt - 43 mg
  • 1/2 cup brown rice - 42 mg
  • 1 banana - 32 mg
  • 3 ounces grilled salmon - 23 mg
  • 1 slice whole wheat bread - 24 mg
  • 3-1/2 ounces edamame - 60 mg
For the sake of full disclosure, the article was written by Dr. Gifford-Jones, a medical journalist with a private medical practice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  His web site is DocGiff.com.

I do journal my food every day and use a software package called FitDay.  I used it online, free, at their website for a while, but eventually bought it so that I could have it on my own PC, and not have to go online to make my entries.

Do you keep track of what you are eating?

Do you have particular nutrients that you like to make sure you are getting enough of?


  1. I sometimes keep track of what Im eating but I find it gets overwhelming at times. Since I've started logging more miles a week, I've stopped but I always try to go back. I just become obsessed /w calories and life isn't as fun ....nice informative post though

  2. I need to get back to journaling more on my food intake. I really focus on my calcium in addition to the magnesium (and vitamin D of course to help with calcium absorption).

  3. this is so interesting. i would have never even thought that magnesium could have such an impact. i was using myfitnesspal to log my foods but it became overwhelming and obsessive to me. so i just try to make sure i am making balanced choices and i take several supplements plus a vitamin! i need to check my vitamin though and see how much magnesium is included. thanks for sharing Elle!

  4. I became aware of importance of magnesium during my wife's second pregnancy as she was suffering from horrible leg cramps during night. They were so intensive that sometimes she managed to wake me up screaming in pain. i did some research to finally find out that it is, actually, lack of magnesium that causes these cramps. I bought some supplements for her to take and she also followed some of the tips found here http://www.legcrampsguide.com/
    Regards, Jason

  5. very cool info!! I need to keep better track of what I am eating - I have been lacking on the portion control over here!

  6. I totally keep track of what I eat and how much/how often! thanks for the magnesium tip :)

  7. Very interesting and thank you! As you know, I have struggled with insulin resistance. I am going to read more about Magnesium and make sure I am in fact getting enough - it seems like I might not be! I am also going to pass this on to my father who is REALLY struggling with leg cramps right now. Maybe this could be helpful to him too. Thank you!

    I started keeping a food journal again TODAY! So, it is funny that I just read this. I am using FatSecret right now because it is free and I can have it on my PC at home or work or log it with my phone. Only problem is...it is 11:30 at night here, and I all I can think about is how hungry I am. Ugh. :(

  8. P.S. - I found from my Doc that I was severely Vitamin D deficient, as MANY of us are who don't get a lot of sun year round. I take a supplement now!


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