The importance of adequate magnesium intake cannot be overstated; magnesium is an essential mineral used, and required, by every organ in the body. Most of us grew up with the mantra that we need more calcium; 'drink your milk so you get your calcium' was the conventional tag line. Never-mind that the only group who agree milk is the best source of calcium is the dairy farmers association. The over-consumption of calcium is also responsible for interfering with your balance of other minerals, which can lead to half a dozen degenerative diseases and ailments; heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypothyroidism and osteoarthritis, to name a few.
As it turns out, major and trace minerals are where the focus should have been. Magnesium is responsible for: production of cellular energy (activates ATP; adenosine triphosphate), digestion of fat, protein and carbohydrates; regulating calcium levels, heart health (without adequate magnesium the heart cannot function) and the activation of muscles and nerves.
Magnesium is an essential modulator of the NMDA receptor; a glutamate receptor found in nerve cells. This receptor is extremely important for memory function and synaptic plasticity. Due to its positive effects on thyroid function, and role in regulating neuronal function, it has been demonstrated as effective (even in isolation) for rapid recovery from depression. Its lesser known anti-inflammatory properties also make it highly effective as part of an anti-inflammatory combination.
It is very important to pay close attention to your magnesium-calcium balance. The recommendation has always been 2:1 in calcium's favour, this is incorrect, the correct ratio is 1:1. Another important note here is the balance between Vitamin D, K2, Magenisum and Calcium. If you are supplementing any of these you need to look at all four as one. Read my Vitamin D blog post for more information on Vitamin D and K2.
Leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds are all sources of magnesium. Unfortunately modern agriculture has depleted the soil of beneficial nutrients like magnesium. One hundred years ago we were getting 500mg of magnesium through diet, now we're < 200mg. Even if you eat organic you will struggle to get adequate intake of magnesium through diet alone. I take a high quality magnesium supplement every evening; the only time I reduce this (take a 1/2 dose) is if I have had a bath with Epsom salts or magnesium oil.
Magnesium is depleted by alcohol, sugar, soft drink and stress. The herbicide glyphosate, present in, and used on GM crops; sugar, corn soy and vegetable oils, act as a chelator; blocking the uptake of minerals like magnesium. Another reason to take a good quality supplement daily and reduce/avoid your intake of foods and drinks that deplete your magnesium stores.