Magnesium: why is it important for the metabolism?
Magnesium: one of the minerals that is essential for the health and well-being of our organism, and essential for the proper functioning of the metabolism, from bone to cardiovascular, muscular and neurological functions: we are talking about magnesium
Magnesium is what is known as a ‘macronutrient’ and is taken up by the body mainly through food
Absorbed by the small intestine during digestion, magnesium is then filtered by the kidneys and excreted through urine, faeces and body sweat.
Under normal conditions, magnesium is present in the body in various percentages: 60% is found in the bones, almost 40% in the muscles and 1% in the plasma and extracellular fluids.
Magnesium: essential for all metabolic processes
About 25 grams, this is the total amount contained in the human body, while the daily requirement ranges from 120-180 mg in children, to about 370 mg in adults, and up to 450 mg in pregnant women.
Magnesium is a mineral useful for the well-being and balance of the body.
It is in fact the cofactor of more than 300 enzymes that control very different processes.
It regulates the transmission of nerve impulses, is involved in the contraction of heart cells and in controlling the heartbeat.
It regulates blood pressure, promotes protein synthesis and fixes calcium and phosphorus in bones and teeth.
Finally, magnesium is invaluable because it helps reduce fatigue and promotes muscle relaxation.
So, whether we are talking about bones or muscles, the nervous system or the cardiovascular system, we can be sure that magnesium plays a role in all the processes that enable us to feel good physically and mentally.
Green leafy vegetables and unrefined cereals: sources of magnesium
The daily requirement of magnesium must be met by the foods we choose in our diet.
Since it is present in almost all food categories, all we need to do is follow a varied diet and, in healthy conditions, we will ensure that we get the recommended amounts.
In general, foods rich in fibre are a good source of magnesium, and in particular it is abundant in green leafy vegetables such as chard and spinach, but also in broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and artichokes.
Important sources of magnesium are legumes (lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans, especially black beans), nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews), seeds, fruit (peaches, figs, bananas, avocados), whole grains, cocoa and dark chocolate.
Although in smaller quantities, magnesium is found in foods of animal origin such as fish, meat and dairy products.
Unfortunately, food processing, such as the refining of cereals, and cooking reduce the amount per portion.
What to do in the event of a deficiency?
Rather than a deficiency, women have an increased need for magnesium in various physiological situations such as premenstrual syndrome, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause.
The elderly also generally have an increased need for this mineral. Magnesium deficiency can occur as a result of taking certain medications (diuretics, antibiotics, contraceptive pills), which interfere with magnesium absorption by reducing availability or increasing losses.
Chronic intestinal diseases, chronic diarrhoea, intestinal surgery are situations in which, among others, magnesium deficiency must be investigated.
Sportsmen and women are another category at risk of deficiency because of high losses due to intense sweating.
Stress can also lead to deficiency, and this deficiency in turn leads to increased stress levels, creating a vicious circle.
Attention should be paid to certain symptoms that can be traced back to deficiency, such as unmotivated tiredness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, muscle weakness, cramps and muscle or abdominal contractions.
If a magnesium deficiency is suspected, it is important to avoid DIY remedies or supplements without medical support and to see a specialist.