While many people’s concerns about their diet relate to a proper intake of calcium and protein, one of the key regulators of our bodies’ chemistry – magnesium – is the most often forgotten. The vegetarian diet tends to be high in calcium (from dairy, especially cheese) and low in magnesium (from whole grains, nuts, and legumes), although a varied diet assures that both magnesium and calcium are consumed in equal ratios.
Magnesium is the king of the minerals in our body, being necessary for hundreds of its chemical reactions. It is involved in almost every function of our body, and plays a major role in maintaining good health:
- Together with vitamin D, magnesium governs the absorption and retention of calcium.
- Plays a critical role in the natural detoxification process, required for the sodium/potassium pump at the cell membrane.
- Creates and maintains bone integrity, as about 60 percent of our magnesium deposits are stored in our bones.
- Regulates the energy production at the cell level.
- Balances the nervous system’s activity.
- Prevents inflammation.
- Regulates the blood sugar.
The major causes of magnesium deficiency are:
- A diet rich in sugars, refined fats, and white flour, because these contain very small amounts of magnesium, but it is required for these to be metabolized.
- High intake of coffee and green tea, because these are diuretics and release the minerals from our body through our urine.
- Stress, because it requires massive energy for the body to cope.
A magnesium-rich diet, based on foods that contain it in mid- or high-proportions is preferable to magnesium supplements. Many of these foods supply other valuable minerals like zinc or iron, contributing to a general state of well-being.
Avocado, summer squash, potatoes, dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, beet greens, swiss chard, parsley, turnip).
Bananas and mangos are the fruits richest in magnesium, one serving providing about eight percent of the daily recommended intake.
3. NUTS and SEEDS
Brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, peanuts, quinoa, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds are a great magnesium source and are the best snack when consumed after being soaked in filtered water and drained.
Beans of all kind, chickpeas, and lentils. Use a minimal amount of water when cooking these, as magnesium and other minerals are leached into the cooking liquid.
5. CEREALS and GRAINS
Millet, oats, wheat germ, brown wheat flour, brown rice.
6. DARK CHOCOLATE
Good news for all the chocolate enthusiasts, a serving of dark chocolate contains not only 10 percent of the necessary daily intake of magnesium, but also iron and fiber.
7. SOY BEANS AND ITS DERIVATIVES (tofu, tempeh, soy milk)
While soy beans contain 130 percent of the daily recommended magnesium intake, it is better to maintain a low consumption because they contain phytoestrogens that can disrupt your hormone balance.