According to a study, women and older adults may experience greater rates of anaemia, which affects up to 44% of South Africans. This may be due to magnesium insufficiency.
Researchers from Ganzhou People's Hospital in Jiangxi, China, conducted the study. They analysed data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2011 to 2016, looking for a relationship between magnesium intake and anaemia in 13 423 people between the ages of 20 and 80.
Among older participants and women, the findings showed a negative correlation between magnesium intake and anaemia, while no statistically significant relationship was seen in men.
Although anaemia was more likely to impact women, older adults, persons with lower family incomes, people who ate less magnesium in their diets, and people who were obese.
The study authors said: “Data on the relationship between dietary magnesium intake and anaemia in the general population are limited.
This was the first study to investigate the relationship between dietary magnesium intake and anaemia using a nationally representative sample of US adults.”
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It is essential for the regulation of blood pressure, the contraction of muscles, the function of the nerves, the synthesis of proteins, and many other biological processes.
Severe magnesium deficiency is rare, but can lead to serious health problems like muscle weakness, seizures, and abnormal heart rhythms. Chronic low levels of magnesium can lead to chronic health problems like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and type-2 diabetes.
The recommended daily intake of magnesium varies by age, gender, and other factors. Generally, adult men should consume around 400-420 mg of magnesium daily, while adult women should consume around 310-320 mg daily. Pregnant and breastfeeding women require more magnesium.
To get the recommended amount of magnesium in our diets, we need to consume magnesium-rich whole foods.
Good dietary sources of magnesium include nuts and seeds, legumes, dark leafy greens, whole grains, fish, and some fruits.
For example, one ounce of almonds contains 80 mg of magnesium, a cup of cooked black beans contains 120 mg, and half a cup of cooked spinach contains 78 mg of magnesium.
In addition to food sources, magnesium supplements are also available for those who struggle to meet their daily recommended intake. However, it's always best to consult with a doctor before taking any supplements.
More than 50% of South Africans do not get the recommended daily intake.
Research shows that low magnesium may even make vitamin D ineffective in the body, affecting calcium and phosphate levels.
Although anaemia, a condition marked by a decrease in haemoglobin in the blood, affects about 25% of the world's population and 44% of South African women and is associated with fatigue, cardiovascular problems, diminished physical function, and higher hospitalisation rates in older people.
According to Vanessa Ascencao, a health and wellness expert, inadequate magnesium intake has been a growing concern for years, despite magnesium's essential role in good health.
It is important to increase the intake of nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory whole foods because they will maintain gut health and ensure maximum digestion and nutrient absorption. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar, and processed food as these reduce magnesium, said Ascencao in a statement shared with IOL Lifestyle.
Further, she advised that high-quality, bio-available supplements should be taken to reach the recommended dosage.
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