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Calcium and Magnesium Dietary Balance

Mar 27, 2008
Everyone seems to understand the importance of calcium in a diet. But when it comes to the other side of the coin, magnesium, few people realize just how important this mineral is to their well-being. It's estimated that only 25% of the American population today receive the recommended amounts, which is 150 - 250 mg for children 10 years of age and under, and 300 - 400 mg for adults.

Magnesium is needed for the absorption of calcium. It's magnesium that transports calcium to the bones. Without a sufficient supply of magnesium, calcium can start collecting in soft tissue and cause calcium deposits.

To balance these two minerals, the average person needs about one half as much magnesium as they do calcium. Keeping this balance is important for several bodily processes. For instance, calcium is needed for clotting the blood, but magnesium helps with the blood's free flow. The two also work together in the muscles, magnesium to relax them and calcium to contract them.

There are a number of things in today's world that can cause a depletion of magnesium from our bodies. Diets high in sugar, soft drinks, animal protein, salt and alcohol will flush magnesium out through the kidneys. Stress, gastric disorders and some drugs such as antibiotics, birth control pills, and insulin can also cause a deficiency. Excessive supplemental calcium usage can actually lead to a decrease in magnesium absorption.

There are a wide range of symptoms that can result from loss of magnesium because it effects so many of our body functions. Things like fatigue, muscle twitching, weakness, insomnia, headaches, irritability, rapid heartbeat, and confusion are just a few signs that a deficiency problem may be present. If you experience several of these symptoms you may want to have a chat with your physician.

Testing for possible deficiency can be somewhat inconvenient. It requires 24-hour urine measurements after having magnesium loaded into the blood stream. This is the most accurate test at this time, though. Since only 1% of the magnesium in our bodies exists in our blood, the rest is in bones and cells. There is no simple blood test that can give an accurate level reading.

Change in diet, of course, can be the ultimate answer. Giving up such things as ice cream, chocolate, potato chips, milk shakes, soft drinks, pizza and a multitude of hamburgers (a list that's high in fat, sugar, and salt), can help maximize the absorption of magnesium into the body.

Replacing those foods with foods that are rich in magnesium will also add a major boost and make for a happy body. You'll want to include leafy green vegetables, nuts (especially almonds), seeds, whole grains (such as brown rice and millet), fruits, and soy products, particularly tofu.
About the Author
Dee Overly is an artist who discovered the health benefits of soy milk and now sells a
Soymilk Maker at www.SoymilkCrossroads.com.
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