It’s that time of year. Soon, temps will drop, there will be a crispness in the air and the colorful glory of Autumn will be all around. Tis the season as of recent years for pumpkin spice, well, everything. And while the pumpkin soda we saw last week at Whole Foods is still sitting exactly where we saw it, no thank you, pumpkin spice cravings do seem to take people by storm this time of year.
However if you’re craving pumpkin everything, it may be a sign you need more magnesium in your diet. Why? Our bodies are pretty amazing and we tend to remember foods that provide us with nutrients we need. Cravings are important! Pumpkin seeds provide the highest source of natural magnesium available through food. That might just be why you have that craving for a pumpkin spice latte. (It could be the 400 calorie punch of sugar syrup, but we think better of you than that.)
Role of Magnesium
Magnesium has more than 300 specific functions in the body, including:
- Maintains normal nerve and muscle function
- Supports healthy immune system
- Regulates the heart rate
- Maintains strong bones in conjunction with calcium and vitamin D
- Regulates blood sugar
- Aids in the processing and production of energy
- Aids in restful and normal sleep cycles
- Ongoing research in the more expansive understanding of magnesium currently include its role in the prevention of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
Most of Us Are Magnesium Deficient – Are You?
Many Americans are chronically low in magnesium, in fact 68% of us are not getting enough magnesium with 19% of Americans not even getting half the recommended amount.* While magnesium is in a number of healthy foods, they are foods we simply don’t often choose or eat enough of, or often enough.
Testing for magnesium can be done through your doctor’s office and it may not mean a needle. There are blood, saliva or urine tests available.
Once tested, if you find out you are low on magnesium you doctor will have some advice for correction. However you can alo personally track your magnesium through dietary intake with sites like sparkpeople.com and myfitnesspal.com which both offer the tracking of foods as well as their nutritional profile. You can see what you are getting in numerous vitamins and minerals on a daily basis as well as how you trend over time.
Signs of Magnesium Deficiency**
- Loss of appetite
Moderate deficiency symptoms:
- Muscle numbness and tingling
- Muscle contractions and cramps
- Mood changes
- Abnormal heart rhythms, palpitations and skips
- Low blood calcium level (hypocalcemia)
- Low blood potassium level (hypokalemia)
Magnesium Rich Foods
A number of the highest magnesium rich foods are below, however there are many more good sources that exist in slightly lower quantity. ***
- Pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup) 317 mg
- Brazil nuts (1/4 cup) 133 mg
- Sunflower seeds (1/4 cup) 115 mg
- Almonds (1/4 cup) 88-109 mg
- Flaxseeds (2 Tbsp) 111 mg
- Black eyed peas (3/4 cup) 121 mg
- Tempeh (3/4 cup) 115 mg
- Soy beans (3/4 cup) 109 mg
- Salmon, Chinook, cooked (2 1/2 ounces) 92 mg
- Cashews (1/4) 90 mg
How Much Magnesium Do You Need?
Men and women need between 310 and 350 mg per day, with men need slightly on the higher end of the spectrum, women at the lower.
Pregnancy and age affect needs and you should talk with your doctor about special circumstances including such as digestion or malabsorption issues, or stomach, intestinal, or ulcer surgery can affect ability to absorb magnesium.
One Delicious Way to Eat Pumpkin Seeds with Pumpkin Spice
Instead of that sleep inducing, sugary pumpkin spice latte, have some pumpkin seeds! Try our Sweet / Hot Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Seeds.
*American magnesium levels – King D, Mainous A 3rd, Geesey M, Woolson R. Dietary magnesium and C-reactive protein levels. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005 Jun 24(3):166-71
**Deficiency information from Medline Plus, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002423.htm
*** Food sources of Magnesium https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Minerals/Food-Sources-of-Magnesium.aspx