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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diet and Nutrition > Magnesium in Diet
      Category : Health Centers > Food, Nutrition, and Metabolism

Magnesium in Diet

Overview & Description | Functions and Sources

Magnesium is a major mineral that is involved in more than 300 enzyme reactions in the body.


There is a recommended daily allowance, or RDA, for magnesium. The RDA is different for different ages and genders. The RDAs are:

  • males (19 to 30 years) - 400 mg
  • males (31+ years) - 420 mg
  • females (19 to 30 years) - 310 mg
  • females (31+ years) - 320 mg
  • pregnant females (19 to 30 years) - 350 mg
  • pregnant females (31+ years) - 360 mg
  • breastfeeding females (19 to 30 years) - 310 mg
  • breastfeeding females (31+ years) - 320 mg
  • Most Americans do not have enough magnesium in their diet. Whole, natural foods are rich in magnesium. Many people eat only processed and refined foods. Processing food and water removes a lot of magnesium. Softened water replaces calcium and magnesium with sodium.

    Although clinical deficiency is rare, minor deficiency is more common. A low level of magnesium in the diet can increase the chances for coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and kidney stones.

    Low levels of magnesium may also contribute to sleep disorders, premenstrual syndrome, and menstrual cramps.

    Clinical deficiencies of magnesium can be caused by extreme vomiting or diarrhea. Malnutrition and alcohol abuse may also cause clinical deficiency. Long-term use of diuretics, or water pills, diabetes, and kidney disorders may cause magnesium deficiency. A deficiency of magnesium affects all tissues, especially the heart, nerves and kidneys. Symptoms of deficiency may include:

  • nausea
  • muscle weakness
  • sleep disorders
  • fatigue
  • mental confusion
  • abnormal heartbeats, or arrhythmias
  • muscle cramps
  • loss of appetite
  • depression, anxiety, and uptight disposition
  • constipation
  • High levels of magnesium taken from supplements, not from food and water, can cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea. Therefore the Tolerable Upper Intake Level, or UL, for supplementary magnesium is 350 mg. It is always smart to consult with a healthcare provider before beginning any supplement intake.

    Toxicity from magnesium is rare, because the kidneys are good at removing excess magnesium. It can occur, however, in people with kidney disease. It can also occur in elderly people with weak kidney function. These people may not be able to excrete magnesium properly. Symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • low blood pressure
  • drowsiness


    Next section


    Magnesium in Diet: Functions and Sources

    Author: Kimberly Tessmer, RD, LD
    Reviewer: Jane Hemminger, RD, LD
    Date Reviewed: 04/02/01

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