Did you know that many of the chemical reactions in your body depend on a mineral called magnesium. To explain the science bit a little, magnesium is a “co-factor” for the enzymes that produce energy for your cells. Enzymes are protein molecules that make it easier for chemical reactions to take place in the body, including chemical reactions that produce energy. The “Co-factors” are nutrients that link up with enzymes in order for those enzymes to function. So our enzymes depend on these co-factor nutrients.
The focus here is on magnesium as I find that it’s a common mineral that tends to be low in a lot of the clients that I see in my clinical practice.
The typical signs of magnesium deficiency include
• Muscle cramps/tremors/weakness
• Nervousness, irritability, anxiety
• Low mood
Think of magnesium as nature’s tranquilliser. It has a calming effect on the body and helps to calm the nervous system which is why it can help some people to sleep better and it can help to reduce anxiety. Studies are also starting to support magnesium in the treatment of depression.
What foods are high in magnesium?
It is found in a variety of whole foods, such as
• Green leafy vegetables – spinach, kale
• Nuts & Seeds (pumpkin seeds are the highest!)
• Brown rice
• Whole wheat pasta
• Beans and lentils
• Fish (especially salmon, mackerel)
Food amount, source (amount of magnesium)
60ml pumpkin seeds (317mg)
2 tbsp flaxseeds (78mg)
2 tbsp cashew nut butter (84mg)
75g salmon (92mg)
60ml sunflower seeds (119mg)
125ml (1/2 cup) cooked quinoa (47mg)
125ml (1/2 cup) cooked spinach (83g)
1 medium potato with skin cooked – (47mg)
A typical meal plan that gets you the right amount of magnesium
The recommended daily amount that we need to get from food is 300mgs*. So what would a typical meal plan for the day look like if you were to aim for at least 300mgs of magnesium? *note this varies according to your age, gender, if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Breakfast: 40g porridge (11mg) with 2 tbsp flaxseeds (78g) and handful of blueberries, 1 tsp cinnamon.
Lunch: ½ plate of salad (lots of different colours for variety of antioxidants and phyto nutrients), palm size portion of chicken breast, 125ml (1/2 cup) cooked quinoa (47mg)
Dinner: 75g salmon (92mg) with ½ cup steamed spinach (83g), asparagus, and peppers and 1 medium potato (47mg)
Total magnesium from above 3 meals = 358mg
Optional snack: 175g yoghurt (70mg) with 20ml – approx 4 teaspoons (106mg) ground pumpkin seeds and some berries
And did you know?
Magnesium is needed to activate vitamin D in your body. We need Vitamin D to help lift our moods and boost our immune system. So if you are boosting your Vitamin D by sunlight or a supplement make sure you are getting enough magnesium!
Tip: try to avoid All-bran as a source of magnesium as it is high in phytates which can rob your body of magnesium. Typical All-bran cereals are also high in added sugar.