72% of Americans are
Magnesium Deficient

v57, Better Nutrition for Today's Living, March '95, p34.

A recent survey conducted by The Gallup Organization has found that 72 percent of adult Americans are falling short of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for magnesium.

The survey further revealed that 55 percent of all adults are consuming three-quarters or less of the RDA, while 30 percent are eating less than half the required amount of the mineral.

The survey also reported that magnesium consumption decreases as we age, with 79 percent of adults 55 and over reportedly eating below the RDA for magnesium, and 66 percent are getting less than three-quarters of their allowamce from food.

Food sources of magnesium include wheat germ, wheat bran, brewer's yeast, nuts, peanuts, soybeans, whole-grain oats and barley, millet, corn and beet greens.

For males 19 and over, the RDA for magnesium is 350 mg/day. For females 19 and over, RDA is 280 mg/day. The RDA for pregnant women is 320 mg/day; and for breast-feeding women, 355 mg/day for the first six months and 360 mg/day for the second six months.

"A potential magnesium deficiency is a matter of concern for many individuals of all ages, but for the elderly, it could be particularly serious," said Richard Rivlin, M.D., program director of the Clinical Nutrition Research Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and chief of the Nutrition Division at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.

"The prevalence of heart disease, diabetes and even leg cramps increases dramatically among older persons, and these are all health conditions in which magnesium deficiency has been found," Rivlin observed.

He added that, "The Gallup Survey showed a high general awareness of the importance of nutrients such as vitamin C and calcium. But it is clear that consumers are largely unaware of the role of magnesium - a nutrient that is essential for the function of other minerals like calcium, as well as the normal operation of the heart and muscles."

A separate Gallup survey of 500 adults with diabetes reported that 83 percent of those with diabetes are consuming insufficient magnesium from food, with many by significant margins. Sixty-eight percent of the men and 56 percent of the non-pregnant women said they were consuming threequarters or less of their RDA for the mineral. "This is a concern," said Susan Thom, a registered dietitian, "Since research has shown a strong association between magnesium and the body's ability to use insulin properly."

Insulin is a hormone required to convert glucose (sugar) into energy. But for diabetics, the body either does not manufacture sufficient amounts of the hormone or is unable to process it.

"In fact," Thom continued, "a consensus panel convened by the American Diabetes Association has recommended that all persons with diabetes who are at high risk for high blood pressure be tested and, if a problem is found, treated with a magnesium chloride supplement."

In spite of this recommendation, Thom added, only five percent of the diabetics polled were aware that magnesium deficiency is prevalent among diabetics.

And 99 percent - of whom more than half (53 percent) have a history of heart disease and/or are taking diuretics (water pills to induce urination) - said they had not been advised by a health care professional about a possible magnesium deficiency.

A magnesium deficiency in diabetics may result in an increased risk for cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure, myocardial infarction (heart attack) and altered glucose metabolism, according to Robert K. Rude, M.D., of the Southern California School of Medicine in Los Angeles, in the October 1992 issue of Postgraduate Medicine.

He added that a magnesium deficiency is associated with low blood levels of calcium and potassium.

Gastrointestinal loss and renal (kidney) wasting are other considerations warranting oral magnesium supplements, he said.

An initial dose may range from 300 mg/day to 600 mg/day with medical supervision. Divided doses are suggested to avoid possible diarrhea. And, he said, the mineral should be used cautiously by patients with impaired kidney function.


Landy, Liz. "Gallup Survey Finds Majority of American Diets Lack Sufficient Magnesium - At Potential Cost to Health," Searle News, Sept. 21, 1994
. Rude, Robert K., M.D. "Magnesium Deficiency and Diabetes Mellitus: Causes and Effects." Postgraduate Medicine 92(5):217-223, October 1992.



Very few people are aware of the enormous role magnesium plays in our bodies. After oxygen, water, and basic food, it is by far the most important mineral necessary in activating over 300 different biochemical reactions; all in order for your body to function properly.

"Transdermal Magnesium Therapy" by Mark Sircus, O.M.D.

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