“Over 60% of Americans are deficient in Magnesium today and it’s nearly impossible to get the recommended amount of 400mg through diet. You must take this supplement if you want to stay healthy and avoid being magnesium deficient.” -said some salesman, boasting Purity Products’ magnesium supplement.”
I don’t know which radio show this was but the guy gave a very compelling argument. Compelling, but wrong. SO wrong. It is possible to consume and absorb 400 mg of magnesium a day and I’ll show you how.
(after my rant)
This is the spread of misinformation at its best. It is people and companies like this who contribute to the confusion surrounding eating well in America. I always say, when there’s a price tag attached to a compelling elevator speech, be skeptical. Here’s this guy – with no credentials – throwing around words like “evidenced-based” and “absorption rate” attempting to sell you a product that will change your life. Newsflash: eating well on a daily basis will change your life more than any supplement. The root cause of America’s Magnesium deficiency is America’s crappy diet.
Plus, taking supplements creates this strange mentality that we no longer need to eat real food – “I took my supplements today so I don’t really need to eat fruits and vegetables.” Sorry to break it to you but it just doesn’t work like that. There are so many phytonutrients in whole foods which are NOT in supplements, that keep us healthy. While some people do require supplements, they should also consume a diet full of plant based whole foods.
Foods high in magnesium include:
nuts and seeds
cooked green leafy vegetables like spinach and chard
beans like kidney beans, lentils and soybeans
bran products (bran cereal, wheat bran)
Here is a sample day of healthful eating that meets your Magnesium needs. To clarify, women need 310 mg/day and men, 400 mg/day.
1 cup bran flakes cereal -92mg
¼ cup raisins – 12mg
1 cup milk – 34mg
1 oz almonds – 80mg
Hummus & Veggie Sandwich
2 slices whole wheat bread – 48mg
2 TBS hummus – 22mg
1 Medium banana – 32mg
2 TBS peanut butter – 51mg
3oz cooked chicken – 26mg
½ cup cooked okra – 40mg (stewed tomatoes and okra for example)
½ cup cooked spinach – 78mg
1 cup brown rice – 79mg
Daily total = 594mg
This surpasses the RDA for 300-400mg/day, but research shows that slightly higher levels of Mg intake may reduce the risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes and stroke. The kidneys eliminate excess amounts of Mg in the urine but supplemental Mg toxicity is possible so it’s recommended not to exceed 350mg of Mg in supplemental form.
Use crushed bran flakes as a coating for chicken or fish
Add wheat bran into home baked goods
Snack on a handful of nuts or seeds everyday, or throw them into stir frys
Always choose whole wheat bread over white bread
Throw spinach into casseroles, pasta dishes and scrambled eggs
Dip your apple or banana into nut butters
Spread nut butters on toast for breakfast or a snack
Sprinkle wheat bran or wheat germ on your cereal or oatmeal
Supplements may be beneficial for those with gastrointestinal issues who have problems with chronic diarrhea and/or with absorbing nutrients from digested food (Crohn’s disease, celiac’s disease, bariatric surgery). They may also be beneficial for the following groups of people if intake from food does not maintain adequate levels:
Type 2 Diabetics/Insulin resistant
But for the average joe not dealing with any of the above issues, supplementing is a waste of money, and it could be potentially harmful. Why? Because the supplement industry is not regulated and product purity doesn’t have to be tested before it reaches market. It could be contaminated with heavy metals, or it could contain far less (or more) of the product than the bottle states. Labdoor is a great website that runs its own tests in an FDA approved lab to determine the quality of supplements. I recommend checking this site before purchasing any supplements.
A quick word on absorption:
Like other minerals, your body absorbs more Mg when your Mg status is low or when intake is low. For example, 65% of Mg is absorbed with an intake of 30mg, whereas only 11% of Mg is absorbed with an intake of 900mg. However, if your current Mg status is low, your body may absorb more with a slightly higher Mg intake. But because we don’t yet have an accurate way to measure Mg status (it’s stored in cells and bone so blood samples don’t give an accurate reading), worrying about absorption rate will only deter healthy eating habits so don’t even think about it.
The science behind this high percentage of Americans with a Mg deficiency was derived from food intake surveys showing us that Americans just aren’t eating enough Mg rich foods. Try including some of these Mg rich foods daily if you aren’t already.
Thanks for reading and stay well 🙂