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Magnesium

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What does it do?

Magnesium is involved in the formation of bone, helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythms normal and participates in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium also helps the body produce energy and make proteins.

What are the best food sources?

Green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains are rich food sources of magnesium. Refined foods generally contain low levels of magnesium. Water can be a source of magnesium—“hard” water contains more than “soft” water.

What happens if you don’t get enough?

Magnesium deficiency is rare in healthy individuals. Magnesium depletion can occur in individuals with diabetes, osteoporosis, chronic alcoholism and malabsorption problems. Severe magnesium depletion can result in numbness, tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, and low blood levels of calcium and potassium (which magnesium regulates at the cellular level).

What happens if you get too much?

Naturally occurring magnesium in food and water has not been shown to cause adverse effects. However, too much magnesium from nonfood sources, such as magnesium salts, has been shown to cause mild to severe toxicity. Symptoms can range from diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramps to difficulty breathing, extremely low blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.

How much do you need?

The following table lists the recommended intake for healthy people based on current scientific information.

Life Stage Group Age Range Recommended Dietary Allowance/Adequate Intake Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)
Infants 0-6 mo. Not determinable for infants due to lack of data on adverse effects in this age group and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Infants 7-12 mo. Not determinable for infants due to lack of data on adverse effects in this age group and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Children 1-3 yr. 65 milligrams/day
Children 4-8 yr. 110 milligrams/day
Males 9-13 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Males 14-18 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Males 19-30 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Males 31-50 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Males 31-50 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Males 51-70 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Males > 70 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Females 9-13 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Females 14-18 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Females 19-30 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Females 31-50 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Females 51-70 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Females > 70 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Pregnancy < 18 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Pregnancy 19-30 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Pregnancy 31-50 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Lactation < 18 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Lactation 19-30 yr. 350 milligrams/day
Lactation 31-50 yr. 350 milligrams/day

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