About Magnesium and Why the Body needs It?
Why is so important to have plenty of magnesium in low carb diet? Magnesium is one of four crucial minerals produced in the human body. In fact, without it, our muscles would remain tense, which could lead to persistent muscle spasms. We also would not be able to balance cholesterol levels, which could increase the risk of stroke or heart attack.
Magnesium manages 200+ enzyme-driven reactions in the human anatomy in addition to helps produce and utilize the most essential component of energy in the body’s cells, known as ATP.
Some vital activities magnesium helps regulate include:
- Building new cells and proteins
- Building dense bones
- Keeps muscles and nerves functioning adequately
- Maintaining a strong immune system
- Maintains stable heartbeat
- Controls blood sugar
- Controls normal blood presure
How to Tell When Magnesium Levels are Low in the Body
The adult body is made up of approximately 25 grams of magnesium, about half of which is contained in the bones, and approximately 1% is stored in the red blood cells, blood serum, and soft tissues.
If magnesium levels in the serum of the blood and RBC’s (red blood cells) dip low, then magnesium storage from the bones will be used to replenish magnesium levels in the blood cells and serum. Therefore, it is important to receive the proper daily nutrient intake to avoid low magnesium levels.
Some symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle cramps
- Heart palpitations
- Low blood pressure
- Sleep problems
Levels of Magnesium and “Keto-Flu”
The recommended magnesium nutrient intake is between 300-400 grams per day, depending if you are a female or male, in order to maintain normal serum magnesium levels, which range between 0.75-0.95 millimoles per litre.
The balance of serum magnesium in the body is primarily managed by the kidneys, which is controlled by its discharge in the urine. When serum magnesium levels dip below 0.75 millimoles per litre, it can result in low magnesium, also known as hypomagnesemia.
Following the first 2-3 weeks of participating in a low carbohydrate diet, such as the ketogenic diet, you can expel excess fluid from the human body, which can unintentionally cause a decrease in serum magnesium levels, during which time it is not uncommon to experience symptoms of the keto flu, which may include fatigue, sugar cravings, dizziness, nausea, irritability, upset stomach, and more.
Top 10 Magnesium-Rich Foods
Fortunately, it is possible to help counter decreased magnesium levels and reduce keto flu ailments with magnesium-rich foods. The top 10 foods rich in magnesium include:
1. Seeds and Nuts
Seeds and nuts contain high amounts of magnesium in addition to protein and healthy fats, which makes them a great choice for adding magnesium in low carb diet. Cashews are especially high in magnesium, with a whopping 83 milligrams of magnesium per palm full, as are almonds, which contain 76 milligrams per serving.
Hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are also high in magnesium, which provide 170 milligrams, 168 milligrams, and 92 milligrams of magnesium, respectively, per serving. They are also high in fiber, which lowers their carb count.
Avocados are another magnesium-rich super-food. In fact, just one avocado contains 44 milligrams of magnesium. They are also full of monounsaturated fats, which are good for the heart. Additionally, the bulk of their carbohydrates are contained in their fiber content, which makes them a great fat source with low carbohydrates, just perfect for vegetarians as well as those on the ketogenic diet.
3. Bittersweet Chocolate and Raw Cocoa Powder
Bittersweet and raw cocoa powder above 70% are extremely high in magnesium. In fact, consuming just 1-2 sections of dark chocolate daily can contribute 65 milligrams of magnesium every day to your diet. It also provides a host of other health benefits, including it’s high in antioxidants, which makes it a great choice for a light, indulgent snack.
4. Dark Leafy Greens
Spinach as well as other dark leafy greens, such as kale, collard greens, and Swiss chard, are all packed with magnesium in addition to other vital nutrients. In fact, just a 5 ounce serving of dark leafy greens provides approximately 110 milligrams or more of magnesium.
Additionally, spinach contains high levels of iron, Vitamin C, K, and A, which makes it a great food to incorporate into your daily diet to ensure you get your intake of magnesium as well as essential vitamins for overall health.
Chicken is another great source of magnesium, and it is low in carbs, which is just perfect for those partaking in the keto diet. In fact, a 4 ounce serving of chicken breast provides 31 milligrams of magnesium. It is also high in B vitamins, selenium, and potassium.
6. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, halibut, and tuna, are more foods rich in magnesium. A 5-ounce serving can provide up to 110 milligrams of magnesium, depending on the fish type. Certain fatty fish are also high in protein, vitamin D, and other key nutrients.
Tofu, which is often a staple in vegetarian diets due to its high protein content. However, it is also high in magnesium. In fact, a 3.5-ounce serving contains 53 milligrams of magnesium, which is more than 10% or the RDI. It is also high in calcium, selenium, and iron, which makes it a great substitute for meat protein.
8. Bone Broth
Bone broth is produced by boiling the bones and tissue fibers of animals, which in turn provides a magnesium-rich brew. In fact, it is suggested that individuals beginning the ketogenic or other low carb diets consume at least one cup of bone broth per day, due to its high mineral content, to combat keto flu.
9. Almond Milk
Almond milk, though it is not particularly rich in magnesium, does contain a small amount of the mineral, which can make it a great supplementary drink. One cup provides approximately 17 milligrams of magnesium and under 1 net carb.
10. Mineral Water
Magnesium is also an ingredient in mineral water. In fact, given that excessive water loss can occur during the initial few weeks with low carb diets, you might even try adding a small bottle or a glass of mineral water to your diet to help restore any water loss and also contribute to your daily magnesium intake.
Other sources of magnesium include coconut milk, zucchini, okra, turkey, beef, liver, cod, haddock, and wild game.
Knowing When to Supplement
If you are dealing with bad keto flu or you are having difficulty meeting the recommended dietary allowance for magnesium via your daily dietary intake, then magnesium supplements may be the answer.
Which Supplements to Choose?
When selecting magnesium supplements, you should be aware that not all types of magnesium are created equal. For instance, some types of magnesium are better suited for specific health requirements, while others have better active-effect and absorption than others.
Good Sources of Magnesium Supplements
- Magnesium Glycinate-is a form of magnesium with excellent bioavailability. Because of its high bioavailability, it barely disturbs the lining of the stomach. This form of magnesium is usually easier to locate online than it is in stores.
- Magnesium Citrate-can be purchased over-the-counter and is typically used to treat individuals with digestive problems because it has a slight laxative effect, and it does not disturb the lining of the gut. It is also absorbed by the body well.
- Magnesium Chloride-is usually extracted from areas with high salt content, such as the Dead Sea, and is typically more readily available in various hydrated crystal forms, but it is also available in an oil for topical use. It is often used to boost magnesium levels in the body for improved health, to fight free radicals, and to prevent prostate issues as well as certain illnesses, such as tumors and intestinal disorders. It also aids in the production of hydrochloric acid, which helps improve the absorption of minerals and vitamins and decreases the risk of diseases caused by viruses and bacteria.
- Magnesium Malate-is a magnesium supplement that also provides the benefits of malate acid. Malate acid is a natural acid that is found in the majority of the cells in the body and is a crucial element of various ATP energy production and synthesis. The combination is also known to improve absorption.
- Magnesium Taurate-is a mineral-amino acid complex that is formulated to ensure maximum bio-availability of magnesium. It is available in capsules and is typically used to address magnesium deficiency, help cell and nerve function, aid with calcium absorption, synthesize protein in the body, regulate heartbeat, and more.
- Transdermal Magnesium-is applied directly to the skin, which provides a faster and more effective mode of remineralization as compared to other forms of supplementation. Once it is applied to the skin, it is absorbed into the epidermis and then the muscles and blood vessels underneath without entering the digestive system where many nutrients can be diminished.
- Magnesium Salts-are usually formulated with Epsom salts, and then used topically, such as in baths, where they can be easily absorbed into the skin. Some people also mix a low dose with warm water to treat mineral deficiency.
Poor Forms of Magnesium Supplements
Magnesium oxide, which is often found in low-cost products, such as Milk of Magnesia, has a low bio-availability, which is not considered a good source for magnesium in low carb diet. In fact, it typically produces an intense laxative effect, which is an indication that your body is not fully absorbing magnesium.
General Guidance on Magnesium Supplementing (How and When to Take It)
Due to magnesium’s relaxing effect on the nervous system and muscles, experts suggest taking the mineral about an hour prior to bedtime in order to calm the body and prepare it for an effective night’s sleep. Furthermore, magnesium and calcium work best when we are asleep, and the body’s repair processes are hard at work.
There is little evidence to support whether magnesium is more effective when taken with food; however, some individuals experience mild stomach upset when taking supplements on an empty stomach. Therefore, try taking the supplement however it works for you.
Common Side Effects
Taking magnesium supplements may cause side effects in some individuals, including:
May Interfere with other Medications
If you take blood pressure medication, antibiotics, or other medications, magnesium may interfere with it. Therefore, if you are taking medications, you should consult your doctor before taking magnesium supplements.
Too much magnesium can cause loose stools or diarrhea in sensitive individuals, so be sure to follow the correct dose.