Health & Lifestyle

Dietitian reveals the one supplement you should take if you can only take one

A dietitian has revealed what supplement they would take if they could only take one.

Dietitian Shyla Cadogan said magnesium would be her go-to daily pill, due to its ability to boost mental and physical health.

She also says it’s one of the nutrients Americans are most deficient in, with research showing that more than half of us aren’t getting enough.

This can lead to detrimental health consequences, such as heart disease, deteriorating bone health, and depression. 

The mineral is found in foods like dark chocolate, nuts, leafy greens, whole grains, lentils, and fatty fish.

The recommended daily amount of magnesium is anywhere from 310 to 420 milligrams per day, depending on age and gender. However, half of US adults aren't getting enough

The recommended daily amount of magnesium is anywhere from 310 to 420 milligrams per day, depending on age and gender. However, half of US adults aren’t getting enough

Magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral in many foods that’s crucial for the brain and body. 

It’s the fourth most abundant mineral- behind calcium, sodium, and potassium- that the body requires daily.

It’s involved in several vital processes, including creating energy, repairing DNA, helping muscles contract and relax, and regulating neurotransmitters. These processes have lasting impacts on mental and physical health. 

‘If you asked me which vitamin is most worth it, I’d say magnesium,’ Ms Cadogan told StudyFinds.  

An analysis in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine of nearly 9,000 participants, for example, found that those under age 65 with the lowest intakes of magnesium had a 22 percent greater risk of depression. 

Additionally, a 2017 trial found that magnesium supplements could lower depression in people with mild to moderate cases. 

Dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, whole grains, lentils, fatty fish, and bananas are all rich in magnesium

Dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, whole grains, lentils, fatty fish, and bananas are all rich in magnesium

Magnesium has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.

A meta-analysis in the journal Hypertension found that magnesium supplements lowered blood pressure in adults. 

Additionally, a review in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that magnesium improved multiple other risk factors for heart disease, including lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels. 

‘The mineral regulates salt and potassium (and therefore blood pressure), as well as blood sugar, so running low on it can be a key driver for both of these,’ Ms Cadogan said.

And a 2021 review in the journal Biometals found that lower levels of magnesium were linked to increased likelihood of developing osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to weaken and become brittle. 

People who consumed less magnesium were also experienced three times more fractures than those with the highest intake, a study in PLOS One found.

This could be because more than half of the body’s magnesium is found in your bones, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Magnesium is abundant in several foods. An ounce of dark chocolate, for example, has 65 milligrams of magnesium, about 15 percent of the daily recommended value.

A handful of nuts are also packed with the mineral. An ounce of cashews, for example, has about 83 milligrams. 

Similarly, several types of legumes, including lentils, beans, chickpeas, and peas, are magnesium dense. One cup of black beans, for example, has about 120 milligrams, nearly a third of the recommended daily value. 

Other food sources include whole grains, fatty fish such as salmon, bananas, leafy greens such as spinach, and tofu.  

However, even if you’re eating a magnesium-rich diet, changes are you’re still not getting enough. 

The current recommended daily intake of magnesium is about 400 to 420 milligrams per day for men and 310 to 320 milligrams for women. However, pregnant women should get closer to 350 to 360 milligrams to support lactation. 

However, research suggests that half of American adults get less than the the recommended amount of magnesium. On average, most Americans get about 200 milligrams of magnesium per day.

The body can also lose magnesium. Stress, drinking alcohol, taking certain medications, and conditions such as diabetes and Celiac disease have all been associated with magnesium loss.

Not getting enough of the mineral could lead to hypomagnesemia, or magnesium deficiency. This affects about two percent of the US population, according to Cleveland Clinic. 

Symptoms of mild magnesium deficiency include tremors, muscle spasms, muscle cramps, numbness in the hands and feet, and fatigue or weakness. 

However, if it becomes severe, it can cause seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, and delirium, a confusion that affects the ability to focus. 

Magnesium supplements are available over the counter in pill and gummy form at pharmacies and grocery stores for anywhere between $12 and $25, depending on the dosage.

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