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Key Nutrients, Magnesium, and Iron

September 01, 2022 5 min read

Key Nutrients, Magnesium, and Iron

Key Nutrients, Magnesium, and Iron

Minerals are essential to the growth and operation of our bodies. Knowing the different minerals and their role may simplify ensuring one has the necessary minerals. This article explains magnesium and iron as minerals and their benefits to an individual’s body.

Iron is a mineral whose primary function is to transport oxygen throughout the body in the hemoglobin of red blood cells so that body cells can make energy. It also aids in carbon dioxide removal. Iron deficiency anemia arises when the body's iron reserves are so low that it produces insufficient production of normal red blood cells to carry oxygen effectively. One of the seven important macro minerals is magnesium. People should ingest at least 100 milligrams (mg) of these macro minerals daily, which is a relatively high amount. Many physiological processes depend on magnesium. Deficiency of this mineral can lead to migraines, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's, and cardiovascular disease, among other conditions.

Magnesium

There is a lot of magnesium in our bodies, and it can be found in many meals and supplements, including antacids and laxatives. Ross et al. (2012) explained that magnesium is a coenzyme in more than 300 enzyme systems that control various biochemical processes in the body, including protein synthesis, the health of muscles and nerves, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. An adult's body has about 25 g of magnesium, most of which is found in the bones and the remaining amounts in soft tissues. Magnesium in blood serum is extremely low—less than 1% of the overall amount. Magnesium levels in the body's serum are typically between 0.75 and 0.95 millimoles (mmol)/L. Less than 0.75 mmol/L of serum magnesium would be considered as suffering from hypomagnesemia. The kidney, which generally excretes 120 mg of magnesium into the urine daily, plays a major role in maintaining magnesium homeostasis in the body. When magnesium level is low, urinary excretion is decreased.

Uses of Magnesium

Taking magnesium-rich foods can help the body fight off some common lifestyle diseases such as hypertension and related heart issues, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, and reliving migraine-related headaches. One of these is discussed in depth below:

Improving Heart Health

A significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke is hypertension. Champagne (2006) explained that magnesium supplement modestly decreases blood pressure. The average systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased by 5.5 and 3.0 mmHg, respectively, with a diet that contained more magnesium from additional fruits and vegetables, more low-fat or non-fat dairy products, and less fat in general. Any independent effect of magnesium cannot be determined because this Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet also boosts intakes of other nutrients, such as potassium and calcium, linked to blood pressure drops.

Sources of Magnesium

The avocado fruit is delicious and a very nutrient-rich source of magnesium. A medium-sized avocado has 58 mg of magnesium per serving. Almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts are the nut varieties with the highest magnesium content. For instance, 82 mg of magnesium, or 20% of the RDI, can be found in a 1-ounce (28-gram) dose of cashews. Other sources of magnesium include dark chocolate, legumes, some fatty fish, and whole grains.

Iron

Haemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that transports oxygen from one's lungs to every area of your body, contains a significant amount of iron. Without enough iron, there aren't enough red blood cells to transport oxygen, resulting in weariness. Iron is found in the oxygen-transporting protein myoglobin, particularly in muscle tissue. Savarino et al. (2021) explained that ensuring adequate iron consumption is critical for children's healthy brain development, growth, and cell and hormone synthesis. Plant and animal-based foods contain varying levels of heme and non-heme iron. In the case of animals, the heme is only found in meats like fowl and seafood. In non-heme iron-containing foods, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy greens, are found in plants. Animals ingest non-heme iron-rich plant diets; therefore, non-heme iron can also be found in animal flesh and foods that have been fortified. Iron is transported throughout the body via transferrin and is deposited in the body as ferritin in the liver, spleen, muscular tissue, and bone marrow (a protein in blood that binds to iron). If anemia is suspected, a doctor can occasionally assess the levels of these two substances in the blood.

Uses of Iron in the Body

Iron has different uses in the body; however, it is primarily used by the body to make blood, particularly hemoglobin. It can be used to offset:

Anemia

Iron deficiency is the most frequent cause of anemia, while other factors are also. When hemoglobin levels fall below normal due to iron deficiency, anemia develops. Yao et al. (2021) explained that if iron deficiency is not treated, it can result in arrhythmias, a cardiac murmur, an enlarged heart, and heart failure. Additionally, fibromyalgia risk may be raised by iron deficiency. Iron levels can be raised by taking supplements. It has been demonstrated that daily iron supplementation lowers the prevalence of anemia and low iron status in those who are in menstruation.

Sources of Iron

The highest sources of heme iron are meat, poultry, and shellfish. Non-heme iron can be found in fortified grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and vegetables. Many slices of bread, cereals, and infant formulae in the US are iron-fortified. The body can absorb heme iron better than non-heme iron. Non-heme iron might be better or absorbed depending on several circumstances. Non-heme iron can be better absorbed when taken with vitamin C and heme iron in the same meal.

Conclusion

Iron and magnesium are vital minerals to the body. These minerals are utilized for various purposes, such as the production of enzymes. Iron is utilized in the production of hemoglobin, a key component in the transport of oxygen. Foods rich in magnesium include whole grains such as nuts, legumes, and dark chocolate. Meat, poultry, and fish are excellent sources of iron. Seeds and legumes are good iron suppliers, but only if consumed in large quantities. Consult your doctor to determine the best course of action if you think you may be mineral deficient.

References

Champagne, C. (2006). Dietary Interventions on Blood Pressure: The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Trials. Nutrition Reviews, 64, S53-S56. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887. 2006.tb00234.x

Ross, A. C., Caballero, B. H., Cousins, R. J., Tucker, K. L., & Ziegler, T. R. (2012). Modern nutrition in health and disease: Eleventh edition. Wolters Kluwer Health Adis (ESP).

Savarino, G., Corsello, A., & Corsello, G. (2021). Macronutrient balance and micronutrient amount through growth and development. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 47(1), 1-14.

Yao, W., Chen, H., Leong, K., Chang, K., Wang, Y., & Wu, L. et al. (2021). A nationwide population-based cohort study is the risk of fibromyalgia in patients with iron deficiency anemia. Scientific Reports, 11(1). doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-89842-9.