Magnesium serves several important metabolic functions in the body. Scientists
have linked anxiety, heart disease, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, asthma,
allergies, attention-deficit disorder, fatigue, hyper-excitability and sleepiness
to magnesium deficiency. They also believe that magnesium helps build bones,
regulate body temperature, synthesize proteins and release energy stored in
the muscles. It plays a role in the production and transport of energy and
assists in the functioning of certain enzymes in the body. It is also important
for the contraction and relaxation of muscles. According to a study published
in the Dec. 2 2004 issue of Neuron, Magnesium also helps maintain learning
and memory in middle age and beyond.
In a new study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have
found that magnesium can regulate a key brain receptor that plays an important
role in learning and memory. Their research showed that magnesium deficiency
can result in reduced learning ability and reduced ability to memorize, while
cognitive function may be improved by adequate magnesium. The study finds
that: “maintaining proper magnesium in the cerebrospinal fluid is essential
for maintaining the plasticity of synapses." Synapses are the connections
between brain cells and plasticity of synapses refers to the ability to change
the connections between brain cells which is critical to human beings’
ability to learn and memorize and remember.
Majority of North Americans do not consume adequate magnesium and the study
suggested that “it is possible that such a deficit may have detrimental
effects, resulting in potential declines in memory function." Magnesium
is found in foods such as dark green, leafy vegetables. Soy products, Fruits
or vegetables (such as bananas, dried apricots, and avocados), Legumes and
seeds, Nuts (such as walnuts and almonds) and Whole grains (like brown rice)
are also good sources of magnesium.
Toxic symptoms of magnesium intake is uncommon because magnesium does not
build up in the body: excess amounts are it is eliminated. Magnesium excess
can occur if higher than normal doses of magnesium are supplemented as a medication.
Deficiency of magnesium can occur in alcoholics or people whose magnesium
absorption is decreased due to surgery, burns, or problems with malabsorption
(inadequate absorption of nutrients from the intestinal tract). Certain medications
or low blood levels of calcium may be associated with magnesium deficiency.
Deficiency symptoms have three categories:
- Early symptoms include irritability, anorexia, fatigue, insomnia, and
muscle twitching. Other symptoms include poor memory, apathy, confusion,
and reduced ability to learn.
- Moderate deficiency symptoms consist of rapid heartbeat and other cardiovascular
- Severe deficiency of magnesium could lead to tingling, numbness, sustained
contraction of the muscles, and hallucinations and delirium.
These are the recommended daily requirements of magnesium:
- 1-3 years old: 80 milligrams
- 4-8 years old: 130 milligrams
- 9-13 years old: 240 milligrams
- 14-18 years old (boys): 410 milligrams
- 14-18 years old (girls): 360 milligrams
- Adult females: 310 milligrams
- Pregnancy: 360-400 milligrams
- Breastfeeding women: 320-360 milligrams
- Adult males: 400 milligrams
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