Magnesium (Mg) (EU) is an essential mineral in the body; a key in
over 300 enzyme reactions. Recent research indicates that diets rich in magnesium may play a role in improved heart health, type 2 diabetes prevention, improved bone health, migraine reduction, and even improved sleep. Research continues to strengthen magnesium’s links to wellness.
The RDA of magnesium for men is 400-420 mg and women 310-320 mg, with needs increasing during pregnancy, illness, or athletic training. The United States National Institutes of Health reports “intakes of magnesium are lower than recommended amounts” leaving developers a clear opportunity to improve the nutrition profile of foods on the market.
Diet Trends vs. Magnesium Absorption
Examining recent diet trends like gluten-free, fiber-rich and protein fortification, overlaid with an aging population who naturally will see a lower absorption rate, the rate of magnesium deficiency could rise. There is also a correlation between caffeine, alcohol, and even antacid use and lower magnesium absorption. However, there is some adaption that allows for a body to compensate for these interactions; the mechanisms are still being studied.
Mintel expects Gluten-Free sales to reach 15 billion by 2016. Reduced gluten diets are often lacking appropriate magnesium levels. When creating gluten free products, developers could look at incorporating magnesium rich ingredients like pumpkin seeds (EU) or quinoa (EU) as a value-added ingredient for their consumer.
High fiber diets, containing 40-50 g fiber per day, and high protein diets, containing more than 94g protein per day have been shown to reduce magnesium absorption. With the recent increase of high fiber and protein enriched products hitting the market, developers can perhaps choose to include food ingredients that add fiber, like spinach (EU), and proteins such as black beans (EU), which are also high in magnesium.
Increasing Magnesium in Formulations
When formulating products to be rich in magnesium, developers can supplement with magnesium salts like magnesium oxide (EU), magnesium chloride (EU), magnesium citrate (EU), and magnesium lactate (EU). A review by Rylander in the Journal of Pharmacy and Nutrition Studies published in early 2014 concluded that bioavailability of magnesium salts is dependent on water solubility and studies to date indicate that magnesium citrate may offer the best absorption.
Alternatively, magnesium is widely found in the food supply. At the center of chlorophyll, magnesium is a large component of plants. Utilizing food ingredients to create less processed formulas which are naturally high in magnesium will enable a magnesium rich nutrition facts panel.
Natural Sources of Magnesium include:
- Unrefined Cereal Grains, found in the bran, like wheat or oats (EU).
- Nuts and seeds like almonds (EU), cashews (EU), peanuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pine nuts, flax seeds (EU), pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds (EU).
- Legumes like soybeans, black beans, kidney beans (EU), white beans, chickpeas (EU), black-eyed peas, and lentils (EU).
- Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, or Swiss chard.
- Herbs and spices, although used a lower percentage in formulas, like coriander, chives, dill weed (EU), celery seed (EU), and poppy seed.
- Fruits and Vegetables like bananas (EU), avocados, potato, and broccoli (EU).
- Dairy products
- Dark Chocolate
One additional thought when formulating with a focus on supplementing magnesium is that while there are established RDA values for magnesium, there are also UL (Upper Intake Limit) levels established for supplemental magnesium. Consult your country’s regulations to assure that you stay within this limit.
National Institutes of Health; Magnesium Fact Sheet
University of Maryland Medical Center; Magnesium
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Chapter 14. Magnesium
Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand; Magnesium
Oxford Journals, Clinical Kidney Journal; Magnesium Basics
Progress Food Nutrition Sciences; Nutrition and Magnesium Absorption by Brink & Beynen
NY Daily News; Gluten-free diet may do more harm than good for those without wheat sensitivity: study
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