Mineral of the Year—Magnesium

Mineral of the Year—Magnesium
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Despite promising autopsy and population data suggesting that inadequate magnesium intake is a risk factor for sudden cardiac death, it wasn’t until recently that this was demonstrated in prospective studies.

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Despite the promising autopsy and ecologic (meaning, population) data I just covered, supporting a specific association between low magnesium levels and sudden cardiac death, there’s only been two studies prospectively examining the association—this one, from the Harvard Nurses’ Study, published in 2011, and this one, from 2010; “The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities” study, covering a multiethnic population of thousands of men and women.

High blood levels of magnesium were associated “with an almost 40% reduced risk” of sudden cardiac death, and “women in the highest compared with the lowest [quarter] of dietary and [blood] magnesium had a 34% and 77% lower” risk of sudden cardiac death, respectively.

Another 2011 study noted: “Magnesium is an essential mineral in whole grains, leafy green vegetables, legumes—meaning beans, peas, lentils and soy—and nuts [as well as seeds], that acts as a co-factor in hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the human body. A considerable body of evidence indicates that a higher intake of dietary magnesium may favorably affect a cluster of metabolic and inflammatory disorders”, including many of our top killers, like diabetes and heart disease.

So, did they put a whole bunch of people on whole grains, greens, beans, and nuts? No, they gave them a pill. A randomized, double-blind, controlled, crossover trial, and, indeed, magnesium pills did improve some biomarkers in the bodies of the overweight individuals studied, but come on.

In fact, even the Harvard Nurses’ study threw up their hands in defeat. Since “most Americans do not meet the RDA” even taking pills, therefore, we need more pills, and put it in the water supply and start fortifying foods. I mean there’s no way, apparently, that Americans are going to start eating spinach or something.

It’s true, though, that most Americans eat so poorly that they don’t even get the measly recommended daily intake. This is the daily value for magnesium, 400. This is how much the average American gets.

How much do you think the average American vegetarian gets? Well, recently published in the Journal of the American Dietetics Association: “A Vegetarian Dietary Pattern as a Nutrient-Dense Approach to Weight Management.” They measured vegetarian magnesium intake, and they’re not eating their greens either.

Non-vegetarians ate an average of 0.1 cups of dark green vegetables a day; the vegetarians ate 0.15 cups. They did better, but still; not enough greens, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

It’s not enough to eat a plant-based diet. We need to eat a healthy plant-based diet.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to David T Jones and USDAgov / flickr

Despite the promising autopsy and ecologic (meaning, population) data I just covered, supporting a specific association between low magnesium levels and sudden cardiac death, there’s only been two studies prospectively examining the association—this one, from the Harvard Nurses’ Study, published in 2011, and this one, from 2010; “The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities” study, covering a multiethnic population of thousands of men and women.

High blood levels of magnesium were associated “with an almost 40% reduced risk” of sudden cardiac death, and “women in the highest compared with the lowest [quarter] of dietary and [blood] magnesium had a 34% and 77% lower” risk of sudden cardiac death, respectively.

Another 2011 study noted: “Magnesium is an essential mineral in whole grains, leafy green vegetables, legumes—meaning beans, peas, lentils and soy—and nuts [as well as seeds], that acts as a co-factor in hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the human body. A considerable body of evidence indicates that a higher intake of dietary magnesium may favorably affect a cluster of metabolic and inflammatory disorders”, including many of our top killers, like diabetes and heart disease.

So, did they put a whole bunch of people on whole grains, greens, beans, and nuts? No, they gave them a pill. A randomized, double-blind, controlled, crossover trial, and, indeed, magnesium pills did improve some biomarkers in the bodies of the overweight individuals studied, but come on.

In fact, even the Harvard Nurses’ study threw up their hands in defeat. Since “most Americans do not meet the RDA” even taking pills, therefore, we need more pills, and put it in the water supply and start fortifying foods. I mean there’s no way, apparently, that Americans are going to start eating spinach or something.

It’s true, though, that most Americans eat so poorly that they don’t even get the measly recommended daily intake. This is the daily value for magnesium, 400. This is how much the average American gets.

How much do you think the average American vegetarian gets? Well, recently published in the Journal of the American Dietetics Association: “A Vegetarian Dietary Pattern as a Nutrient-Dense Approach to Weight Management.” They measured vegetarian magnesium intake, and they’re not eating their greens either.

Non-vegetarians ate an average of 0.1 cups of dark green vegetables a day; the vegetarians ate 0.15 cups. They did better, but still; not enough greens, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

It’s not enough to eat a plant-based diet. We need to eat a healthy plant-based diet.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to David T Jones and USDAgov / flickr

Doctor's Note

Make sure you watch the prequel: How Do Nuts Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death? Although those eating plant-based diets may average less than half the nutrient deficiencies than meat-eaters, as seen in Omnivore vs. Vegan Nutrient Deficiencies, that’s not saying much, given how pitiful the Standard American Diet is to start with. See, for example, Nation’s Diet in Crisis, and Calculate Your Healthy Eating Score. There are many more videos on greens, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, as well as on thousands of other topics—enjoy!

Check out my associated blog posts: Magnesium-Rich Foods to Prevent Sudden Death and Nuts Don’t Cause Expected Weight Gain.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

85 responses to “Mineral of the Year—Magnesium

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  1. Make sure you watch the “prequel” to this video, yesterday’s NutritionFacts.org video-of-the-day How Do Nuts Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death?. Though those eating plant-based diets may average less than half the nutrient deficiencies than meateaters, as seen in Omnivore vs. Vegan Nutrient Deficiencies, that’s not saying much given how pitiful the Standard American Diet is to start with. See, for example Nation’s Diet in Crisis and Calculate Your Healthy Eating Score. There are many more videos on greens, beans, grains, nuts (http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/nuts/), and seeds, as well as a thousand other topics—enjoy!




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    1. Magnificent Magnesium–This is the turning point (Torsade de Pointes).

      Low hypomag and hypokalemia can lead to prolonged QT and possibly TdP and ultimately death.

      Maybe the hospitals should give all patients dark green leafies, beans, nuts and seeds, and oatmeal when the are admitted, ultimately lowering their risk for dying?  At least in the hospital, wouldn’t you think?

      They don’t call it the ‘Crap’ateria for nothing!




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      1. How many americans (and people of europe) would choose that hospital for their quadruple bypass? They would probably thoose another hospital serving burgers, fries, milkshake, coke (with suger of course), icecream and cheesecake (double cheese!) and recieve their magnesium-pill, statins, ace-inhibitor, clopidogrel, aspirin and then suing the surgeon because they need a stent within 12 months, contributing to the bankruptcy of the healthcaresystem – and just because they didn`t eat their beans and nuts – crazy world !




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        1. my parents fall into this category… they complain about how irresponsible people are & how the government (in the U.S) while people like them are footing the bill via the upper middle class tax burden, but they do little to take care of their personal health & are in a state of denial while they spend a fortune on pharmaceutical products while they snack on potato chips & chocolates & eat very little vegetables, but to their doctors credit, they’ve been told, they just ignore the advice & it’s easier for the doctors to just keep prescribing to people like them, what are they going to do if the patient does not want to take responsibility for their own health?




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        2. Don’t put it all on the patients. That is way out of line and not fair. Most people are seeking true help… Most WANT their lives saved and the lives of their loved ones saved. The patients are the victims here to a corrupt medical industry ran by big pharma. Don’t act like people would give up their life for a burger given then choice, when most wouldn’t. They’re selectively kept in the dark and they trust these places who are feeding hydrogenated oils to someone staying over night after getting stents put in. And that to me is SO sad when someone and the family that loves them is trusting a place to save them and heal them, and they’re being misled and fed the things that sent them there in the first place… That is heartbreaking to me.




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          1. As a health coach, I would agree and disagree with the above. Yes, people say they WANT to be healthy, but the reality is they have to change and they won’t do it 9 times out of 10. They do give up their lives to burgers, fries, and sugar sweetened anything. Being Plant Based is SIMPLE, but unfortunately, it’s not EASY and many people do not want to make the effort.




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          2. There’s plenty of blame to go around. It is true that the industrial food conglomerates do tweak the salt, oil, sugar levels of food to make it nearly impossible to “just eat one” or not sit down to an entire pint/quart of ice-cream at a sitting. It’s no coincidence that every major tobacco company expanded and bought a major food processing company.

            I have to disagree that most people are seeking true help. Most want help in the form of a pill / procedure that will let them continue eating they way they enjoy eating… eggs, dairy, cheese, sausages, meat cuts and foods filled with salt and sugar and swimming in oil. I know because once a month, I cook a soup-to-nuts SOS-free plant-based vegan buffet for my church and a full quarter of the people complain and make snide remarks about having vegan food “forced” on them. We charge $5… its a steal at that price and healthful seven-days-from-Sunday and no one forced them to take a plate. I also always run out by the end of the buffet. And the people who complain the most are the ones in walkers or taking insulin and high blood pressure meds. If you even suggest that a dish can be made without cheese, the response is “no one’s ever going to take away my cheese.” Suit yourself… would you like a side of statin, ace-inhibitor, beta-blocker and diuretic with that bacon-cheese Hollandaise omelet?

            I will agree with you that people wouldn’t trade their health for one cheese burger… but they will trade their health to continue eating all the foods they love even though they know they aren’t healthful. I can speak from personal experience in that it took me surviving a massive heart attack before I was willing to get serious about thinking about what I was eating and even dismissively told my doctor once that while I might not live longer going vegan it would probably feel longer and didn’t initially make the change from unhealthful vegetarian to SOS-free WF-PB vegan.

            I won’t defend the food that’s served in most hospitals… I noticed that the food I was served when I used to have heart procedures wasn’t very healthful. That said, since I switched over to a SOS-free, WF-PB diet, I haven’t had another admission to see whether I’d had another heart attack. I also have been taken off of four of the five meds I was on beyond my 81 mg of aspirin.

            It’s true that for the most part corporations have coöpted the agencies that are supposed to look out for citizens, but that’s just a corollary to the Citizens United decision where money = free speech… now money also determines which citizens (corporate citizens included) interests are going to be attended to. There are a couple of souls in federal agencies still trying to resist against the Grover Norquist-Steve Bannon-Koch Brothers’ agenda of reducing the size of government so that it can be drowned in bathtub but they’re getting forced out. One has to be fortunate enough to bump into the info form Drs Barnard, Ornish, McDougall, Greger, Goldhamer, Fuhrman et al to learn how to eat healthfully, but one also has to be willing to make different choices about what to put into one’s mouth.




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      2. If only… The crap they serve you in the hospitals is deplorable… it’s the stuff that puts you there in the first place. I was hospitalized for about a month, it was touch and go due to a severe liver problem which was made much worse due to another hospital’s very bad mistake… so my liver was in critical condition among other things and they were sending me foods with high levels of high fructose corn syrup and other things that were bad for the liver and entire body.
        My grandma was recently hospitalized due to a broken hip, and despite having so many health problems, she had a great surgeon and made it through the surgery… but died of e-coli that she got from the hospital food, I think it was from chicken they served her. She suffered a lot…




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      3. I have studied this matter and it does not seem that there is a reliable alternative to increasing RBC magnesium, other than supplements. I have a doctoral dissertation from a German Ph.D. student who studied the absorption (not intake) of magnesium from leafy greens such as spinach and kale. He included stool samples from a large number of subjects. He concluded that greens are not a good source of mg, because the mg remains bound to the stool content and is excreted.

        Leafy greens and nuts may be fine if you eat them for years. If your need is urgent, though, supplements seem far better. MgCl or MgCitrate absorb well. Even with supplements, it can take months to increase RBC magnesium.

        See Dr. Mildred Seelig’s work.
        From a book preface: “Mildred S. Seelig, M.D., MPH, is a world-renowned researcher who has studied the role of magnesium in health and disease for more than forty years. The author of numerous peer-reviewed articles and an international lecturer, she is also a master of the American College of Nutrition and a founding editor of the college’s professional journal.’




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        1. PS – I am an eater of nothing but plants, and I follow Dr. Esselstyn’s instructions strictly. I am a huge fan of Dr. Greger and Dr. McDougall and not a supplement nut. Magnesium is, for me, an exception.
          Sometimes I soak in an epsom salt (mag sulfate) bath, which is a super way to absorb magnesium quickly. It’s the best tranquilizer imaginable!




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          1. I too have been eating a vegan diet but only for the last 4 months. I eat plenty of greens every day and have for years. I take B12 but my energy is zapped and my digestion slows immensely if I don’t take magnesium. I can only guess it is because it has been robbed from our water supply.




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      4. When my mother, who has had a lifetime of eating a Standard American Diet, was in recovery from Open Heart Surgery and triple-bypass, and was allowed to eat, they gave her a cheeseburger and chocolate milk shake.

        We were flabberghasted. We wanted to get her something else but she insisted that is what she was hungry for. :-( Hospital food is alarming.




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    2. Emphasis on dietary magnesium – in mind the case with beta-carotene (an indicator of high intake of vegetables) and the pill (without the other 100 carotenoids) and increased risk of lung-cancer (if smoking) and the current debate over calcium tablets and cardiovascular events. Food is a package.




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    3. Hi to all from my go to team of anything to do with health and nutrition!
      Im hoping you can help me with this question. I have recently been persuaded to purchase and use a product called amazing oils which is a transdermal magnesium spray.
      I have been very sceptical as they claim it cures so many things one can’t help but feel it’s another miracle cure marketing ploy!

      Granted in just 24 hours my chronically stiff left ankle feel significantly freer to the point I’m wondering what else they put in this oil as I can’t logically see how this could affect it so fast. Yes I am a sceptic!

      I haven’t been able to find much on the subject and supporters of this product tell me it’s the transdermal oil that is important not magnesium ingested orally…

      I have asked them for peer-reviewed scientific study links just now and am waiting to see what they provide. I would so appreciate it if you happen to know of any either way or even your thoughts on the matter.
      As an Ultrarunner I would indeed be thrilled if it does work !

      Many thanks for your incredible work I have bought three of your latest book and lend them out to friends family and guests at my vegan bed-and-breakfast in Australia.
      I extend an open invitation to Dr Greger and family/staff to stay a night or two at my B&B (45km NE of Melbourne CBD) if he ever comes to give a presentation which I know will be incredibly well received here.

      Warm regards and thanks
      Jan
      The Beet Retreat
      Victoria Australia




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      1. Hi, just read your inquiry. Wondering if all you are using is another name for ‘magnesium oil’? A spray which you can make yourself- 50:50 magnesium chloride and water,




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  2. Congratulations to Dr. Greger for cracking another hard nut!

    My formula with data from the USDA database: ½ cup of oats
    for breakfast (138mg Mg) + 1 tbsp dry Cocoa Powder (unsweetened) at first break
    (141 mg Mg) + 40 Almonds (roasted not blanched) during the day (128 mg Mg) =
    407 mg Mg and success. All those leafy greens at lunch and beans at dinner
    boost it up to around 600 or 700 mg with only 1600 kcal consumed during the day.
    In my humble (unschooled) opinion, achieving this goal every day should be easy
    and tasty and cheap to do. 
    Super thanks to the Doc for making us aware of it! 




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  3. For many vegetarians, being a vegetarian is not about a plant-based diet.  It’s about not harming animals.  French fries and a Coke fits the bill.  Still, I was shocked at the micro-portions of leafy greens reported in the study.




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      1. The “most important animal?” Umm, from a scientific and ecological aspect that is the opposite of the truth as humans are the least important aspect in this sense. We contribute nothing to the earth, are not part of the ecosystem, and only destroy other life, our own lives, and the planet that we all live on! Humans are no better than cows or cats or dogs or pigs or chickens or fish, and in fact, in many aspects are significantly worse. So maybe watch it on the speciesism.
        To not neglect ourselves however, the best thing we can do is adopt a plant based diet… go figure! It’s what is best for our bodies and entire planet. Aside from total devastation animal agriculture causes to the planet, when a human is eating a steak, another human is going hungry in that third world country where all the “cattle” is being kept on deforested land and all their water goes to watering the grain that they don’t get to eat, on more deforested land in their country, to feed the “cattle” so a human in the western world can have that steak. So if we’re gonna talk about caring for the human animal, let’s at least be accurate as to what that means.




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    1. I’m a vegan now and eat a TON of veggies, fruits, seeds, nuts, and recently started eating beans and legumes. But before when I was just a vegetarian… I ate so horrible at times! Basically just like most people in the western world or at least in the U.S… I lived off of processed foods, processed breads, fast food (minus the meat), cheese, occasionally milk, eggs sometimes, frozen foods, etc.




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  4. My dr. recommended a magnesium supplement for me. I take Magnesium Glycinate 600 mg capsules – 2 a day. Is this enough? Like most Americans, I probably do not get enough in my diet.




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    1. Tabitha,
      The best strategy is: eat food, whole food that is.  Include all the plant-based food groups (grains, fruit, vegetable, legumes, nuts and seeds).  Include portions from all those groups every day.  And over the course of a week, eat a variety of foods within each food group.  That will give you all the magnesium you need, plus most of everything else.  Isolated nutrients in supplements may be useful in certain therapeutic situations, but that’s not the way to live.  Eat food!




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  5. You mentioned eating whole grains in the video. Was just wondering what you thought of the book Wheat Belly. Apparently, the wheat of today has been modified so much that it is causing many of our health problems and the USDA is telling us to eat more and more of it, thus creating a vicious cycle of health problems. It was an interesting book, but it’s so difficult to know what/who to believe anymore when it comes to the type of food we should be eating. Marion Nestle doesn’t even mention it, to my knowledge, in her books or blog.




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    1.  “whole grains” should be limited and should be “whole” grain.  Eat wheat berries, bulgur wheat, brown rice (not instant), amarynth…. These are whole grains.  You shouldn’t get your whole grains from pasta and bread!  Those are highly processed!




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      1.  Don’t forget rolled or steel cut oats, millet, and barley. They’re all cheap and nutritious and easy to fix. For example, you can put steel cut (Irish) oats in a pan at night, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover with a tightly fitting lid and then let it sit until morning.They should be done by then and ready for a quick reheating or final quick cooking in the microwave. It’s great with raisins and cinnamon. Barley is great in vegetable soup along with a handful of lentils.Barley and millet are a welcome break from rice. The orioles, finches and  jays that visit my home also love millet, although unlike them, I seldom eat it raw..




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        1. Paulc-Oats are high in sulfuric acid, higher than wheat and that is very bad for bone health, not to mention the overall health of an alkaline body. Plus, they cause blood sugar to skyrocket-no matter what kind or how they’re cooked.

          Robin-some of the grains you mentioned all share a genetic heritage with wheat and have some of the potential effects that wheat does on the body. And the rest still take a toll on your metabolic health because they are rich in carbs.

          There’s just so much to learn about the food we eat and how it will effect our bodies. It’s overwhelming at times. Just when I think I’ve cut out all the bad (ok, most of the bad stuff-I still have some vices) foods, I read something new. UGH!




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          1. Most of this is false. The sulphuric acid is irrelevant if your other bone health items are adequate.
            There is a huge difference in GI response to rolled oats versus ‘instant’ oats and cooking method does matter.
            Recent studies from Scandinavia showed that rye was more beneficial than oats. Modern wheat has been bred to increase the size of the endosperm where the gluten resides, so even if you are not ‘gluten intolerant’ you still get too much from wheat products.
            To say that carbs take a toll on your metabolic health is nonsense as all vegies are carbs. If so, vegetarians would be the sickest group around. What matters is whether your carbs are complex (low GI) versus simple (hi GI) as in much processed food..




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          2.  Hi April, thanks for the advice. I was aware of the acid-forming content of grains- probably due to sulfur-bearing amino acids and so, I’ve cut back to 3-4 servings a day- below the gov’t’s recommended levels. Didn’t know about the H2SO4 content of grains, though. I reason that if it were high we’d have a burning sensation in our mouths when we eat them. Could it be that you’re actually referring to the sulfur-bearing amino acids? It would be hard to imagine life without grains. For thousands of years people have been getting the majority of their calories from grains. I recently read about the riots in Rome during Augustus’ reign when wheat from North Africa was cut off by Lepidus. Of course this is the gist of the debate between Plant-strong physicians Macdougall and Furhman: shall we go with what has worked for thousands of years or with what may potentially be the best diet? As I understand it, even Dr. Furhman doesn’t completely rule out grains. Also, I freely admit that I’ve fallen victim to the addictive exophins in grains. Seems that my “appetite” just isn’t easily satisfied unless I have some. Perhaps the real debate is between Dr. Macdougall’s addiction and Dr. Fuhrman having broken his. Perhaps I should also do the same and cut off grains completely in favor of vegetables, fruits, legumes, mushrooms, nuts, tea and spices. But then, legumes tend to also be acid-forming. Oy! Perhaps enough veggies will compensate.




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  6. This topic is of great interest to me not due to heart problems but I was border-line osteopenic last year…so magnesium is very important for BONE health too! And I have been eating raw organic pumpkin seeds for a snack just about every other day (alternating with our dear and wonderful walnuts)…and I’ve switched to unsweetened almond milk instead of 1% dairy milk…also increasing my Vit D3 intake to 5,000 IU’s each day…AND increasing my weight bearing exercise though I’ve always been a walker..if it is alright to do so, I will attach a link to the highest magnesium foods:http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=75  Great video, Doc!




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  7. Important notes to make:
    In foods where most of the magnesium is found in water-soluble form, blanching,
    steaming, or boiling of these foods can result in a substantial loss of magnesium. For example, about one third of the magnesium in spinach is lost after blanching. Similarly, when beans are cooked, they can lose up to 65% of their magnesium. 

    Because magnesium can be attached to certain building blocks of protein (called amino acids), increased intake of protein can sometimes help improve the body’s magnesium status.




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  8. I’ve taken magnesium-calcium-zinc supplement for several years for no “serious” reason.  At the time I think I read “somewhere” that I need it because I wasn’t eating meat.  A few months ago I stopped taking it because again I read that all nutrients should come from food and started having major digestive issues including some serious bloating.  I have no health or weight issues and don’t eat junk.  Since magnesium is a laxative, could it be that I just got too accustomed to it?  I was taking the supplement at low dose.  I also noticed that I now lose a few more stands of hair, whereas before none came off.  Do I go back to the supplement? 




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  9. This is very interesting to me because my ophthalmologist told me today that at least 50% of people with classic migraines (which he said are a vascular spasm) and ocular migraines (which he said is actually a type of seizure) have low magnesium levels, and that correcting it usually resolves them. 

    He also said the big problem was all those supplements available cheaply are very poorly absorbed, making them almost useless for correcting the problem. What he didn’t tell me was how I can get magnesium that IS absorbable, so I came here.But he said that a regular blood serum test will not accurately reflect magnesium levels. Instead a different, more targeted blood test was required. We did that test, because he’d rather know for sure before he starts trying to find me a source of magnesium that is better than useless.

    So what I am seeing from comments here is that dark leafy vegetables are a good source, as well as nuts? I love raw spinach, eat it all the time, and I eat chick peas nearly every day. What else should I add?




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      1. It seems that chard and spinach have a goodly amount of sodium… Is sodium in whole foods not as key for heart patients compared to granules?




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        1. Hmm, not that much in spinach in my opinion (126 mg per cup, cooked). Interesting observation with chard though. It has around 102 mg per leaf. If no other added salt is added to the diet, I think it would be difficult to surpass 1500 mg, although 15 leaves would do it. A bunch of chard often has a few leaves though. NaCl should theoretically have the same effect on BP from chard or as a free granule. If your putting it in a soup the sodium will be more dispersed as opposed to a chard salad.




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          1. I refer here to those with heart conditions who have been instructed to restrict salt or don’t add it (which may be a good policy for all but then maybe not…)

            The idea of restricting some greens (like chard) because of high sodium — would be pretty eye-opening.

            Maybe you don’t eat chard as I do. By the leaf? Once I steam a few leaves it practically disappears into nothing. So, the one cup cooked cited at Nutrition Data… yields 732 mg. Two small cups and you’re nearing the daily limit of 2 grams and three is “too much”? Eating three cups wouldn’t seem too huge.

            Maybe sodium in whole foods take longer to assimilate or doesn’t fully assimilate… compared to pure sodium grains.

            We need answers here. :)




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            1. Hi Tobias, I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. In researching myself the sodium content of chard, I found that one leaf contains 102 mg sodium. You would need to eat quite a large number of chard leaves to approach the 2 gram daily limit. If one’s diet is already relatively low in sodium, I would not worry about the sodium found in chard or other greens–the benefits of greens are just too good to justify avoiding them! For somebody with a higher than desired sodium intake, sodium from greens are probably a low proportion of that sodium intake anyways, and I would suggest they reduce sodium intake from other areas of their diet than greens. I am not aware of any studies that show that absorption or assimilation of sodium from whole foods is any different, but that would be a very interesting study to conduct!




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  10. You are so smart! I love your info and have spread the news! Now the guy at the gym, my brother and his wife are favoring your advice. Thanks so much!
    Judith McConnell




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  11. Just had salad for lunch. Included, dark leaved lettuce and freshly picked leaves from my Oregano bush outside. Hope that gets rid of my blood clot.




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    1. There is more nutrition in dark leafy greens like kale which are high in vitamin K, and which tastes even better cooked with red onions, garlic, and turmeric, than lettuce. However, kale like other health dark leafy greens, they normalize clotting levels.

      I think kale tastes far better cooked with lots of freshly mashed garlic, red Bermuda onions, and even turmeric root (fresh is better than dry). The latter root, that of turmeric I buy at health food stores or Oriental Groceries.

      ‘Some research suggests that garlic may increase the risk of bleeding due
      to its anti-clotting properties. It should NOT be used by people who will be having surgery soon, especially if they are given blood thinners or if bleeding after surgery is a concern. People on blood thinning
      medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin) or aspirin, should consult with their doctor before taking garlic supplements.”

      I cook with lots of garlic and never have been bothered with blood clots, even when I ingest 8 cups of cooked dark, leafy greens per day for calcium and magnesium needs on a lower fat diet.. Lately I’ve discovered kale and collards tastes hugely better cooked with a tad bit (less than a tablespoon) of a good organic olive oil and lots of sauteed garlic and onions, which reduce the blood clotting effects of high vitamin K veggies.

      Have your salad for lunch without fatty salad dressings if you desire. But, also have lots of dark leafy greens cooked with lots of garlic!




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      1. Do you have any evidence that consuming more dark leafy greens increases blood clotting effects? From the research I’ve done, it seems Vitamin K only coagulates the blood up to a certain point. If you ingest more than the RDA (less than a cup of most dark leafy greens), it will not increase coagulation any further. So clotting would not be greater at 8 cups of greens than 1 cup of greens.




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  12. I have recently discovered that I am a food Addict. Which means similarly to the way a drug addict can not ingest the tiniest bit of their drug of choice without the insanity of craving taking over their thinking- I can not eat any sugar/ flour or artificial sweeteners without becoming my own scary version of the cookie monster. (The only sweetener that doesn’t seem to effect me xylitol.)

    I also suffer cramps and muscle spasm from stress if I don’t take magnesium regularly I’ve been taking: http://www.bioceuticals.com.au/product/preview/Ultra-Muscleze-Night

    and: http://ethicalnutrients.com.au/content/products/mega-magnesium-powder

    both of which seem to be soothing the cramps but are in danger of triggering my cravings.

    Is it necessary to take magnesium in a power form? if so can you recommend one free of any kind of sweetener.

    And if tablets are ok which ones would you recommend?

    PS I’m in Australia so preferably a brand I can get over here or that isn’t going to cost me an arm and a leg to ship.

    thanks for your help. :)




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    1. Alice: I’m sorry to hear of your troubles. Good for you for taking your health into your own hands and working to improve it.

      While I don’t personally have answers for your specific questions, I wanted to point you to a book that is really great:

      “Breaking the Food Seduction: The Hidden Reasons Behind Food Cravings—And 7 Steps to End Them Naturally” by Dr. Bernard

      Best of luck to you.




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  13. Looking at the difference between how I eat and my asian friends, they are so much more likely to eat dark leafy veges at every meal whereas I don’t think I was brought up like this way and therefore have to consciously do this. When i was teaching four classes of Tai chi a day I would supplement with magnesium because i would get leg cramps whenever I was low in magnesium……however, its always hard to suppliment because its like admitting that what you are doing isn’t perfect……something like there is a disconnect between what you eat and nourishment. I was also taking barley grass or spirulina quite regularly.




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    1. Me too Rosemary. seems like the more greens and algaes I eat, the more magnesium I need, despite a diet chock full of MORE than enough, so I get the sentiment. I’ve asked Dr G but have not gotten a response back but I hear that certain nerve issues deplete magnesium stores, and since I have nerve issues and started taking a lot of extra as Epsome salts, seems like I am better but the more I need also, as if somehting is rallying in defence and stealing it all. Anywho I bulk up and cross my fingers for a response about needing ridiculous doses of magnesium in the interum. It feels good to not be alone in this from folks who also dose high in greens and algaes and need more and more mg too. What’s up I wonder?? I’d bet there is a connection somehow.




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  14. I eat a plant based diet high in green leafy vegetables as well as legumes, nuts and seeds. However, I still have a hunch that I am deficient in magnesium. I have frequent muscle tension and abdominal cramping and currently use a magnesium supplement to relieve these symptoms. This seems to help. Are there any magnesium supplements that you consider safe? Which form do you recommend? And how many milligrams?
    Thanks!




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    1. Try nightly or morning baths with Epsome salts as well. It seems to be absorbed into the skin more readily than ingesting – and scrub while in there with a brush or still lufa. Works great for me – like a lithium bath – and I also am one who needs HIGH doses of it for the same reasons, which seemeed to surface when I stopped meats/dairy and grains too, even though my diet is very high in magnesium foods, like it sounds like your’s is too. I think I now take several 1,000mg of magnesium daily, and almost can’t get enough. Green juices also help. Hope you don’t mind my nosing into your question. Cheers.




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      1. Every body is different and absorbs or utilizes nutrients differently depending on the whole body issues. I jumped on the idea that single nutrients shouldn’t be taken just eat a healthy whole foods plant based diet. Am now anemic. So I went back to vit C supplementation along with high iron foods. We each have to find what works best for us. And remember that most recommendations are for apparently healthy people.




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  15. Dr G, great to hear you comment on how silly to suggest taking a pill instead of just upping the magnesium rich foods in a diet, even the veg heads are not eating enough mg. But Dr G? How come when it comes to B12, I always hear you mention pills and not greens and brewers yeast and such high B12 foods??? What up?? One of my big beefs is that vegans can live on TERRIBLE food choices and so it’s not enough to cut out animals. Folks have to start eating their greens and beans – those are my core foods.. . . and I find grains make me tired and cranky and want sugar so I don’t even touch them any more, since beans are so awsome (loved the bean Disqus today btw. Horray for beans and heart! Since I’ve been eating lots of them my iris no longer shows heart issues so I’m down. Thanks!




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    1. Hi Ruby! I’ve loved seeing all your cheerful, high-spirited comments around the site, by the way. I wanted to chime in on this though–did you see Dr. Greger’s video on Daily Source of Vitamin B12? http://nutritionfacts.org/video/daily-source-of-vitamin-b12/ In order to get enough B12 from nutritional yeast, you’d have to take 2 teaspoons three times a day (4 to 6 hours apart). That seems more than most of us could handle. Greens, as far as I can tell, aren’t a source of B12.

      I’m sure you’ve noticed that Dr. G usually recommends whole food nutrition as opposed to supplements, except when it comes to B12, omega 3s, and possibly D (http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/).

      Glad to hear your health issues have improved! :)




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      1. Hiya Tomasina! (love that name! :). . . The second vid was a 404, no longer found vid. . . wasss up? The first one. . . . says needs to take b12 several times a day and that we can’t absorb but a smidge per eating. . . Huugh, you know my problem with these “studies” sometimes is, step back a jif and, they don’t make any sense. If b12 comes from meat and we need b12 and there’s not enough in greens (and I see plenty that greens are the non meat source, so). . . .if we’re deficient it has to be because we are not getting what we have been genetically are designed to. . .but if so we’d have to not be eating foods we would generally get without civilization. Green things woudld be THE most available source, daily. No one ever ate meat several times a day, so the supposed bioavailbility limits make me shy with incredulity. I don’t eat that much bewers yeast. It comes and goes from my diet, but I eat a lb of cholorlla a month(2tbs a day) and at least a bunch of come dark leafy (kale, chard, spinach, collards). . . 2 bunches of fresh spinach and one collard is there now, along with a couple parsely and cilantro. My freezer has many jars of parsely/cilantro pesto with fresh nuts, which I spoon into my soups. . . . I nhear the arguments and the studies. I had a blood teast last year and got raised eyebrows of praise, though I don’t know the details. I am going to get another done and get the numbers on my B12. Then I can either make a really big point, or conceed. . . .. though surely the atter would be highly miffing to me. Later gater! And thanks for the sunny reply to my post. ;)




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      2. Just wanted to dash back to you Tommasina. Your response has me skooting around sleuthing this absorption issue and I found I think a big key. B12 needs a thing secreted by the stomach to get attached to in order to be absorbed in the small intestine. It’s about ph levels in the belly. Reminds me of an old guy story I heard once. He was 150 or some rediculous thing. He claimed his long life was dude souley to squeezing fresh lemon on every single meal. This changes the ph to more acidic in the belly which is what is needed for absorption of B12 (and probably all else I’d suspect). And this brings to mind how sometimes when I take my chlorella I get lazy with squirting a half lemon in the jar with the water and powder and a splash of honey. A big ahh haaaa comes. When I miss that step my belly feels blah, and UGH – like it’s hard to digest. Actually hurts my belly . . . Big ah haaa. Stomach acid. Back in 05 I was tooling around seeking if vegans get cancer and I found 6 women, all vegans at least 7 yrs, 2 were lifetime, one was 12yr – so all veterans. All had stomach cancer. . . .. I think we need the acids. Especially those of us taking pills, and things like algaes, as opposed to salads which often have that acid in the vinegar. We need stomach acids to go with the foods in order to digest and absorb. That’s my idea. I’m glad as heck lemon is a daily thing for me and almost always has been. . .. but with water/tea and not as much with meals. As of today I’ll be squirting lemon on all my greens, and up my lemon dosing from one to two lemonds daily. Cheers to you for inspiring the sleuthing on absorption Tommasina. That’s a peice to the puzzle for me, and maye for we vegans on the whole. Goodonya and tanks bunches!




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        1. “For many vegetarians, being a vegetarian is not about a plant-based diet. It’s about not harming animals.”

          Nothing wrong with harming animals…we harm plants. Every living thing on the planet consumes another living thing.




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          1. I’m not sure why you’re witing me LG, what that quotation has to so with anything at all, or what in the world anything you wrote has to do with my my post. So. Shrug.




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        2. DO you sill take chlorella? What brand? Some chlorella claims high B12 concentration.
          Thanks for any info. on your chlorella experience.
          Also wondering if you have any experience with nutritional yeast.
          Thanks.




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  16. Dr. Greger – I’ve always heard magnesium should be taken alongside calcium to maximize absorption. Can you speak to this? Thanks for all you do!!




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  17. Question for Dr. Greger: Since magnesium is the great “relaxation” mineral, are there any studies to support magnesium in the treatment of stress or anxiety disorders? (BTW…love your new look!)




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  18. There is a recent push for people to up their magnesium levels with supplementation. Dr Carolyn Dean says that we don’t get enough because plants don;t have it in the soil anymore. Is this true? Do vegans have magnesium problems as well? Do vegetarians? How do we all compare?




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  19. I cannot stand the way our government is able to put whatever they want in OUR water supply because they feel that SOME of the population may need it… Magnesium addition may not be harmful, but I’d worry about the source, whether it was vegan, and quite honestly, I for one wouldn’t want to be forced to take supplements through my water! I like to know what I’m getting and choose how I get it. They’ve already destroyed our water supplies with their fluoride… you have to get a reverse osmosis filter for the best guarantee at getting it out and I hate that so much water is wasted in this process. I can’t stand the way citizens are treated like helpless morons, not ever given the choice or knowledge (unless they’re the few that independently decide to learn about this stuff) before having all these decisions made for them like helpless infants. Our rights are routinely taken away and all of this filtering what is taught to the public is so unethical and dumbing down society in many ways, which is certainly no accident… So grateful for all the work you do!




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  20. I just tore my achilles tendon and have heard that magnesium may help with muscle cramps that I am getting in my calf. Is it worth taking magnesium for muscle cramps and if so, in what form? If not, what might help? Thank you.




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  21. I am new to the nutiritionfacts.org community, but I love all of your videos and tips so far. Thanks for offering this resource – I plan on buying your book, too. As a side note, I’m a new vegan (vegetarian for 8 months, vegan for a month), and I love it so far that this resources has really helped me.

    I am hoping that you could create a video or provide some information about body twitches. I often get an eye twitch in my left eye (even before becoming a vegetarian), although sometimes other parts of my body will develop the same twitch, such as my leg or arm. It’s quite annoying and distracting while I’m working at my computer. I’d love to get some tips on how to reduce it. I read something online once that said it may be due to a nutritional deficiency, such as magnesium (hence why I’m posting my comment here). I’d love some more information if you have any.Thanks very much.




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      1. Hi Thea, Thanks very much for your insight and the linked videos. I think the little eye twitches that I get are much more mild than the “tremors” mentioned in the video, but it was really helpful to watch those videos, and I appreciate your input. Thanks again. :)




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    1. Hello! My name is Megan and I am a nutrition student and moderator for NutritionFacts. I read your comment and really wanted to offer you some advice because I experienced the same thing a few months ago – almost constant twitching of my right eyelid (so annoying!). After reading your comment, I just now realized I haven’t been experiencing that twitching, and I feel that I can link it back to a change in diet.
      I have been on a WFPB diet for about a year now, but haven’t been very diligent in making sure that I am consuming enough of all necessary nutrients until becoming a nutrition student. Lately, I have been eating a lot of oatmeal with hemp seeds, added more nuts to my diet, and have gotten more leafy greens by adding them to my soups. After looking up the magnesium content of hemp seeds, I realized there is a whopping 700mg of magnesium per 100g serving. I put a few tablespoons in my oatmeal every morning, which probably adds up to about 200 mg?

      That is just an example – but my twitch is gone and I can only link it back to adding more of those foods Dr. Greger discusses in the video (“whole grains, leafy green vegetables, legumes—meaning beans, peas, lentils and soy—and nuts [as well as seeds]”). Based on the science, and my personal experience, I would recommend more of those!

      Hope this helps! :)




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      1. Hi Megan, Thank you very much for your thoughts and taking the time to get back to me. This was very helpful. I will definitely try adding more hemp seeds to my diet. Thanks! :)




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    2. Stop eating all grains, beans, and seeds, eggs,nuts, and caffeine in any form or source, also avoid chocolate.

      The only exception for now would be white and brown rice, both organic, these might be fine to eat for grains, and get the rest of your nutrients from fruit, vegetables, avocados…and whatever other foods (maybe not vegan?) you choose.

      For me, omega 3 pills, whether vegan or fish based, both can cause eye twitching in me. As can whole fish. But seriously, try avoiding everything mentioned above for a week, see if it resolves. And check your supplements for any ingredients inside of them that might be on the avoid list.




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    3. after doing this for a week, maybe add back one food item at a time every 4-days to see if you can identify the source of the twitch, if, in fact, the list i have included turns out to be the root of your twitch.




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  22. Yes, grains, beans and nuts have high Magnesium, but.. What are you really absorbing?? All these minerals are bound to phytic acid and non absorbing by anyone who eats them. Come on, Dr. Greger, you know this. Yes, you mentioned that alum family helps with the absorption, but who would eat them along with, say oatmeal? Animal sources are the only readily available /absorbable sources of such nutrients.

    Inhibitory effects of phytic acid and other inositol phosphates on zinc and calcium absorption in suckling rats.
    http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/2918393

    Phytate in foods and significance for humans: food sources, intake, processing, bioavailability, protective role and analysis.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19774556

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260997467_Reply_to_MF_McCarty




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    1. Sam: Consider the following:

      1) People get plenty of iron and calcium from other sources. The phytates in foods does not make one deficient in any nutrients in practice / in eating a diet of whole plant foods.
      2) People are not rats. You can easily design rat studies in such a way as to make any food or nutrient look bad
      3) Phytates / phytic acid is good for you, from preventing and treating cancer to preventing osteoporosis : http://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=phytates&fwp_content_type=video E
      4) Human societies which eat a lot of whole grains/phytates thrive. http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2716

      The concern about phytates is much ado about nothing.




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  23. While it’s always important to seek out magnesium rich foods — many are unaware of the drastic declines in food-based nutrient sources that have occurred over the last century.
    It is well known among experts that the quality of our crops is decreasing. In 2004, the Journal of the American College of Nutrition released a study which compared nutrient content of crops at that time with 1950 levels. Declines were found as high as 40%.
    Ultimately, even those who seek out a balanced high magnesium diet with magnesium-rich vegetables and whole grains may not be able to rely upon food alone to provide sufficient magnesium levels.

    http://www.ancient-minerals.com/magnesium-sources/dietary/

    These are just a few lines from the artical. Could it be the real reason the vegetarians are not getting enough magnesium?




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  24. I take a powder form of magnesium chelate. I consider this a miracle. My blood pressure when from ( drs office 165/145 to 125/70. Magnesium helps me sleep. I take half dose a night. Hypothyroidism and anxiety go hand in hand. Magnesium helps a little here too.




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  25. How much magnesuim does a person absorb from taking a epsom salt bath. I throw in 5 handfuls of epsom salt in my bath about once a week. I am wondering if I even absorb any of it. Then I have this salt water spray made from salt deposits somewhere in the Baltic Sea, and it is basically pure magnesium. I bought it at the health food store. I am wondering if this is a waste of money. I do eat a lot of spinach. So, I know I am getting magnesium from the Spinach I eat and also from the other greens that I eat. Plus I eat about one can of black beans and rice everyday along with raw fruits and other raw vegetables.




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