When you think of the nutrients you need every single day, your mind probably jumps to vitamin D, iron, or even calcium. One crucial mineral you might miss? Magnesium.
“Magnesium is a very important mineral and is involved in more that 600 chemical reactions in the body,” explains Sonya Angelone, MS, RDN, CLT, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body after calcium, potassium, and sodium.”
The problem is, the average person only gets 50 to 66 percent of the magnesium they need daily, says Angelone. Why? Most Americans don’t eat enough magnesium-rich foods—like leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes—and load up on processed ones instead, where magnesium has been removed in the refining process, she says.
Still, while most people probably aren’t getting enough, true deficiency is less common. Your kidneys actually limit the amount of magnesium you flush out through your urine, according to the National Institutes of Health. In addition to consistently eating a diet heavy in processed foods, several health conditions (including diabetes and celiac disease), chronic alcoholism, and taking certain medications can bump your risk of true deficiency.