(NaturalNews) Magnesium is a vital macromineral that is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It regulates enzyme reactions, aids the production of ATP, helps the body transport ions across the cell membranes and much more. Indeed, all of the body's organs require magnesium to function properly.
Unfortunately, magnesium deficiencies are pandemic worldwide. In the United States alone, experts estimate that between 50 and 80 percent of the population suffers from a deficiency, which can lead to anxiety, restless leg syndrome, nausea, muscle cramps, insomnia and a host of other stress-related conditions. (1) Though poor diets are partially to blame, the biggest reason for this pandemic is ongoing soil erosion, which has significantly reduced the mineral content of the earth. Consequently, many popular fruits and vegetables that used to contain magnesium no longer do. (2) Therefore, if you want to prevent or treat a magnesium deficiency through diet, you need to focus on certain foods that still retain their magnesium content. The best of these foods are listed below.
Unlike land vegetables, sea vegetables have retained their mineral compositions for centuries and remain the best source of many essential minerals. One hundred grams (almost 1 cup) of kelp, for instance, contain approximately 121 milligrams of magnesium, or 30 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI). Kelp is also one of the best sources of iodine, another mineral in which many individuals are unknowingly deficient. (3)
Worried about radiation in seaweed? Numerous reputable seaweed suppliers such as Maine Coast Sea Vegetables now monitor their products for possible radiation contamination. As a general rule, though, favor seaweed sourced from the Atlantic rather than the Pacific.
Since the roots of sugar cane grow deep into the soil, this tall, juicy plant is able to tap into a large number of nutrients that other plants cannot reach. This is the reason why organic, unsulphured blackstrap molasses -- the treacle-like byproduct of sugar cane refinement -- is so rich in essential minerals like iron, calcium, manganese, selenium, potassium and -- you guessed it -- magnesium. In fact, just 1 tablespoon of this dark, viscous molasses will provide the body with 48 milligrams of easily digestible magnesium. (4)
There's a good reason why magnesium deficiencies often manifest in the form of chronic chocolate cravings: Cacao beans, the dried and fermented beans from which chocolate is made, are one of the most magnesium-rich foods in the world. One cup of powdered cacao beans contains a whopping 429 milligrams of magnesium, which is just over 100 percent of the RDI. (5) Unfortunately, the oxalic acid found in cacao beans prevent this magnesium from being absorbed completely, but you still get a good dose of it -- that's why cacao and cacao products make you feel relaxed and energized after eating them.
According to Self's "NutritionData," rice bran is the world's greatest source of magnesium. Just 1 cup of this byproduct of the rice milling process contains an incomparable 922 milligrams of magnesium, or more than twice the RDI. It is also unusually high in manganese, phosphorus, iron and the B vitamins. (6)
Like blackstrap molasses, rice bran is an excellent gluten-free nutrient supplement and can be added to cereals, soups, muffins, cakes and other baked goods. In fact, a lot of recipes that incorporate blackstrap can also incorporate rice bran, providing you with a double dose of magnesium.
About the author: Michael Ravensthorpe is an independent writer whose research interests include nutrition, alternative medicine, and bushcraft. He is the creator of the website, Spiritfoods, through which he promotes the world's healthiest foods.