Magnesium has been gaining in popularity lately, primarily because of the many ways it benefits our overall health.
In fact, magnesium is essential to the function of hundreds of biochemical reactions in the human body.
Magnesium concentration is highest in bones and soft tissue, where it aids in structural development.
It also plays an important role in the body’s energy production, transportation of calcium and potassium to our cells, and regulating normal heart rhythms.
Research shows that consuming magnesium-rich foods and supplements is more important than we ever realized.
Keep reading to learn about some of the amazing ways magnesium benefits our health.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be used in place of the advice of a healthcare professional. While my wife and I have been taking magnesium supplements every day for years, I can't say how they might affect you. Always consult a doctor if you have health concerns: don't try to self-diagnose!
Magnesium Benefits Can Include ...
... Preventing Cardiovascular Disease & High Blood Pressure
The body uses magnesium to properly regulate muscle and blood vessel contractions. This includes the muscles and blood vessels of the heart.
Multiple studies show that when these body tissues aren’t contracting and relaxing properly, you can suffer from an irregular heartbeat, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Although there is some debate about which type of magnesium is best for preventing high blood pressure, foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are a good place to start.
These whole foods are high in magnesium, and are also good sources of potassium and dietary fiber, which may also reduce high blood pressure.
... Preventing Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Adults
Type 2 diabetes is a result of insulin resistance, which is when your blood does not use insulin properly to manage your blood sugar levels. This type of metabolic dysfunction is often related to magnesium deficiency.
Several studies, including this one published by the American Diabetes Association, have found that increased magnesium consumption can offset the risk of developing diabetes for high-risk individuals.
Significantly, among certain groups within the study, higher intake was associated with a 32% lower risk of diabetes.
A study of obese children also found that magnesium deficiency leads to decreased insulin sensitivity and a risk for Type 2 diabetes.
... Keeping Us Energetic
Magnesium plays an important role in bones and muscle tissue
Without adequate amounts of magnesium, the body has to work harder to supply bones and tissue with oxygen. As the body works harder, it gets tired, and you feel less energetic.
Studies have shown that people with low magnesium levels in their bodies struggled to breathe during physical activity, and their hearts beat faster than when they had low magnesium levels
Even people who exercise on a regular basis may see a difference in their energy levels if their magnesium intake fluctuates.
The takeaway from these studies is that, even if you aren’t athletic or trying to do regular physical activity, being magnesium deficient can cause you to feel sluggish and tired.
... Aiding Digestion and Promoting Intestinal Health
Magnesium aids in properly digesting the food we eat so that our bodies receive the resulting energy and are able to properly absorb the nutrients contained within.
Magnesium activates enzymes that help the body process proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It also activates a group of molecules known as ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is key to storing energy from food.
Magnesium also helps the intestinal walls to relax, which helps your bowels function properly, preventing constipation. Consistent elimination of waste from the body is essential for good health.
... Improving Our Sleep
The same study that links magnesium to cardiovascular health and blood pressure also found that magnesium levels affect brain waves.
Magnesium deficiency can cause the brain to create electrical activity when the body is at rest—like when you’re trying to sleep. If you wake up regularly during the night, low magnesium could be to blame.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, sleep deprivation, or lack of sleep, is often linked to restless legs and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).
Magnesium supplements are often recommended for treatment of restless legs, because magnesium helps the brain produce dopamine (a neurotransmitter that is necessary to prevent involuntary muscle movement).
... Preventing Kidney Stones
Painful kidney stones can result from having too much calcium in the body.
Although calcium is an important mineral that is necessary for healthy bodily functions, it must be absorbed by the body or dissolved in order to be flushed out with urine.
Undissolved calcium builds up in the kidneys and creates kidney stones.
By maintaining a healthy level of magnesium in your body, you ensure that the calcium you are consuming is used properly by the body, and is flushed out when necessary.
... Preventing Osteoporosis
From the time we are children, we are told that calcium is the most important factor in having strong, healthy bones.
However, it turns out that vitamin D is just as important to build and maintain healthy bones: the body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium.
Magnesium fits into this scenario because it activates vitamin D (as opposed to competing with it, which is common amongst micronutrients).
Magnesium deficiency can result in vitamin D going unused by the body, which leads to unabsorbed calcium.
Over time, this chain reaction of unused, unabsorbed minerals may cause osteoporosis in aging adults, which can lead to brittle bones that can break easily.
... Relieving Muscle Soreness and Cramping
We all know that regular physical activity is a key factor in maintaining muscle mass and a healthy weight.
Magnesium can help you stay active by reducing muscle soreness and/or cramping after a workout.
Whether you are lifting heavy boxes around your house or doing a strength workout at the gym, your muscles produce lactic acid. When lactic acid builds up, your muscles start to feel sore.
Magnesium reduces lactic acid build up, preventing too much soreness or cramping that could make it uncomfortable for you to be physically active.
... Preventing Certain Types of Cancers
Some studies show that magnesium deficiency creates a carcinogenic effect in cases of tumors. Since magnesium plays a role in over 300 enzymatic processes in the body, cells that do not receive enough magnesium may be vulnerable to carcinogens.
Patients with certain types of cancer have been found to have severe magnesium deficiency, and researchers continue to study how increasing your magnesium intake could prevent the development of cancerous tumors.
The researchers from the study do caution that statistically significant results were not found for every group studied, so the benefits may not extend to everyone.
However, they do conclude that high magnesium intake could be a “new avenue to explore further in the search for cancer-prevention strategies”.
More Magnesium Benefits
As indicated in the studies cited, scientists have not yet been able to definitively determine which forms of magnesium are optimal, particularly with respect to targeted specific benefits.
It’s also unclear for whom magnesium supplementation is most beneficial.
Lastly, the precise ways in which magnesium brings about a number of the cited benefits is still up for some debate.
Nevertheless, all of the research about magnesium makes it clear that doctors and scientists believe that magnesium is more than just beneficial to certain functions in the body; it is essential to daily health.
Different amounts of magnesium are recommended depending on age and gender; you can refer to the National Institute of Health’s chart for more details.
As always, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your physician or other qualified medical professional to help determine your own optimal level of magnesium, and to see whether magnesium supplementation is right for you.
Jane Wright says
I was recommended to take magnesium by a homoeopath several years ago, and it sorted my chronic fatigue. I am now supposed to take it every 6 months, and used to buy it from Noma in Southampton. They have closed, and I was wondering if you could tell me where I can now buy a similar product. I have lost their recommendation
Dear Andrew I am taking 300 mg of magnesium citrate and following low oxalate diet both are helping pain a lot but I am getting a bit of diarrhoea. Would it be best to take 100mg x 3 day on empty stomach? I find mag citrate works best for pain.
Great article on Magnesium.
you have a wonderful flair for writing
I am a wellness doctor just graduated from my fellowship and would like your permission to share your article on my website which is getting ready this month .