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Magnesium

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 changes.
  • Severe deficiency of magnesium could lead to tingling, numbness, sustained contraction of the muscles, and hallucinations and delirium.

Recommended Doses
These are the recommended daily requirements of magnesium:

  • Children
    • 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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Magnesium