hands cutting lemon on a wooden board with mango and carrots

February is heart month so I wanted to tackle it from a slightly different angle this year…and introduce you to a mineral you might not know much about, magnesium.

Magnesium is found in beans, nuts, fish, seeds and a few grains and beans…which explains why many North Americans are deficient in this vital mineral. We simply aren’t eating enough of these powerful plant foods, preferring the creature comforts of a grilled cheese sandwich to a bowl of baked beans.

What does a day’s worth of magnesium look like? 3/4 cup black-eyed peas, a 1/4 cup of almonds and a 5 oz portion of halibut would do it. Or, how about a 1/4 cup of raw pumpkin seeds and 1/2 cup of cooked spinach? It’s not too difficult to reach your magnesium targets…but it does require close attention to magnesium rich food…which you can find more info on here.

So why is magnesium so damn important?

You need it for your bones

We talk a lot about calcium for healthy bones but bones are not built of calcium alone! In fact, much of your body’s magnesium supply is also deposited in your bone. If magnesium intake is low, calcium absorption is reduced.

A healthy heart depends on it

Magnesium plays a starring role in the maintenance of a healthy heart in a couple of ways: one, it ensures the proper contraction of muscles (including your heart), and two, it helps to oppose the effects of sodium on the arteries, lowering blood pressure.

It helps prevent muscle cramping

Leg cramps got you restless at night? Consider magnesium as a potential culprit. Because of its role in muscular contraction, low magnesium may be to blame for night cramping.

It can help calm you down

Supplemental doses of magnesium citrate can have a soothing effect on the nervous and muscular system and some people find that a dose before bed helps them fall asleep, naturally.

(Always talk to your doc or dietitian before taking supplemental doses of magnesium in case of medication interactions and note that overdoing it can lead to loose stools)

It can alleviate fatigue

Magnesium is a critical cofactor in energy metabolism in the cells, and chronically low magnesium levels can play a role in chronic fatigue.

Feast on whole plant foods this month and show your heart a little magnesium-laden love!