Today I want to briefly consider the importance of Magnesium in the diet. When I speak to groups and classes on the subject of nutrition, I frequently commence by considering the effect of the refining process on the level of nutrients in foods. In refining whole grain rice, 83% or the magnesium is lost, and in making white flour, 82% of the magnesium content of wheat is stripped away. Add to this the fact that magnesium is depleted during times of stress, that alcohol and caffeine can lead to urinary excretion of magnesium, and that those of us trying to keep fit will lose magnesium in sweating while exercising, we begin to see that we may benefit by making sure our diets include magnesium-containing foods.
Magnesium is vital in bone density and strength, with studies showing that supplementing just magnesium without any extra calcium improved bone density (this was for research purposes, so magnesium should usually be used together with calcium). Magnesium is essential for the production of energy, for glucose metabolism and for making protein within the body.
So to keep energy levels supported we need sufficient magnesium. This may also help symptoms of PMS, low (or high) blood sugar, quality of sleep, blood pressure, constipation and muscle health. I frequently recommend magnesium in ratio with calcium as a supplement, but you may like to ensure that your diet is also providing good levels of magnesium for yourself and your family.
A simple way of increasing magnesium is to add seeds to breakfasts. Pumpkin, flax and sesame seeds all have a high content of magnesium. Whole grains too, are good sources of this nutrient, so combining the two gives you a magnesium-rich start to the day. Stirring ground seeds into whole grain sugar-free cereals, or porridge made from oat, millet or brown rice flakes makes a satisfying meal. If you do not have access to a grinder you can buy seeds ready ground by Linwoods, and these are available in some supermarkets (Waitrose) and whole food shops.
Soaking the grains overnight before cooking, and blending the ground seeds with water and leaving overnight may make these foods more digestible, and also may reduce the phytic acid content. There is mixed research about phytic acid (or phytates), which are reported to decrease our ability to absorb certain nutrients – including magnesium. However, soaking, sprouting and cooking seems to reduce the negative effect of phytates, while also reducing cooking time and increasing digestibility.
So to support your intake of magnesium each day include whole grains, seeds and green leafy vegetables. If you can get nuts in their shells while on the Nutritionhelp protocol, these too are a source of magnesium.