Magnesium (chemical symbol Mg; atomic number 12) is an essential mineral. The problem: the human body cannot produce it itself. For this reason, consumers have to take in sufficient amounts of magnesium themselves every day through food.
According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), a healthy adult needs around 300 to 400 milligrams (mg) of magnesium, informs the magnesium information portal magnesium.de.¹ Magnesium is responsible for energy development in the body. If this essential mineral is missing, undesirable side effects become noticeable.
Leg cramps: first sign of magnesium deficiency
Magnesium is an important mineral for the organism; without sufficient magnesium, various sub-steps in the metabolism of carbohydrates would take place much more slowly. Deficiency symptoms are diverse and can show themselves in the most varied of forms.
Classically, an undersupply of magnesium expresses itself acutely in muscle cramps. A calf cramp is extremely painful and uncomfortable for those affected, especially if it occurs suddenly at night. The muscle becomes hard and has to be relaxed again with a massage, which is not always easy in the lying position.
Basically, calf cramps are not uncommon, especially in the heat of summer or after extensive exercise. Since the mineral requirement is high at this time, the body loses magnesium, among other things, when sweating. But he needs this mineral for proper operation.
While occasional calf cramps can occur, common complaints should be categorized as alarming. Frequent calf cramps can be a sign of magnesium deficiency. This problem can be solved with an appropriate diet. In some cases, however, there may also be other causes (hormonal disorders, malnutrition and massive absorption disorders in the gastrointestinal tract). Typical signs: muscle tremors, cramps, loss of appetite, tiredness and nervousness .
7 tasty foods high in magnesium
With the right diet, the body supplies the magnesium it needs. Many of the following foods not only have a high magnesium content, they are also extremely tasty and provide variety in the menu.
- Cashew nuts : Cashew nuts or kernels are delicious and versatile. They have long been an integral part of the vegan diet. From them you can make not only creams, but even a kind of cheese. Cashew nuts are suitable as a snack in between, they can be integrated into curry or caramelized on desserts. 100 grams (g) of nuts contain an impressive 267 mg of magnesium – almost the daily requirement of an adult.
- Sesame seeds : Sesame is one of the oldest oil plants in the world. The seeds contain 50 to 60 percent oil, 30 percent protein and around 16 percent carbohydrates, vitamins E and B. But magnesium can also be found here – and not a little. There are 559 kilocalories (kcal) in 100 g of sesame. Two tablespoons are around 30 g. The proportion is 370 mg per 100 g of sesame seeds .²
- Dark chocolate : Chocolate is one of the absolute highlights of all snacking people. However, you should switch to dark chocolate, because it is an important supplier of magnesium. 100 g of the black-brown delicacy with a cocoa content of 70 percent contain 292 mg of magnesium.
- Oatmeal : For many people, breakfast isn’t complete without oatmeal. They are part of mueslis and numerous snacks and bars. Oat flakes are also an important supplier of magnesium. Half a bowl (100 g) contains 139 mg of the mineral. If you supplement your breakfast with dried fruits such as dates (50 mg / 100 g) and figs (70 mg / 100 g), you can increase the magnesium content.
- Sunflower seeds : Among the magnesium suppliers, sunflower seeds are the absolute highlight. Like cashews, they can be nibbled as a snack or made into pralines. Of course, they also taste particularly good in salads or pesto sauces. If you have your own garden, you can of course grow sunflowers yourself. So you not only have a real eye-catcher in your green oasis, but also a particularly high-quality magnesium supplier. 100 g of the kernels contain 420 mg of magnesium.
- Quinoa : The grain has a significant amount of magnesium: 275 mg per 100 g. No other grain comes close to this magnesium value. A good side effect: Quinoa is gluten-free and suitable for all people who pay attention to a good diet. Quinoa can be used for a wide variety of meals: pancakes, in salads, cookies or as a casserole.
- Soybeans : Soybeans are a traditional cultural plant which has developed into one of the most important crops of our time. The legume is now being developed into a wide variety of products – and this is thanks to its ingredients. The magnesium content is 220 mg per 100 g of soybeans.
Also lupines are considered to be good source of magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron.
Do not exceed the daily dose of magnesium
An excess of magnesium is rare, but it can happen if you overdo it with the foods mentioned above or even combine them. An excess of magnesium, also known as hypermagnesaemia, strongly excites the nerves and can be problematic for people. The result is initially mild symptoms such as tiredness, limpness, physical weakness and low blood pressure. If the daily dose of magnesium is exceeded several times, the respiratory muscles can become slack and lead to respiratory failure.
Magnesium supplements as an alternative to food
Magnesium can be found in sufficient quantities in many foods, as the magnesium table linked above shows: cereals, fruit, vegetables, pasta and nuts. Nevertheless, there may be people who cannot tolerate some of these foods: Nut allergies are not uncommon, which means that valuable magnesium suppliers are no longer available. Those affected could see special magnesium supplements as an alternative.
A test report by ÖKO-TEST indicates that many of these products contain too high a daily dose. As already described, overdosing can be problematic. Therefore, one should consult a doctor for the use of such preparations and seek advice.³