Benefits of Magnesium (And Why You Probably Aren’t Getting Enough)This article could have been called 300 benefits of magnesium because this mineral plays a vital role in over 300 bodily processes! Today we will highlight some of the top benefits of magnesium and why you probably aren’t getting enough from food alone.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is an element and mineral found in nature. As one of the body’s essential electrolytes, we must consume magnesium because it is not produced endogenously (inside the body). As a result, magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, required for literally hundreds of enzymatic processes that affect all our systems, including blood pressure and blood glucose regulation, nerve and muscle function, reproduction, and more1.
Symptoms of Low Magnesium
Since 99% of your body’s magnesium is stored in your bones, muscles, and soft tissues, a blood test is not an accurate way to diagnose magnesium deficiency 2. Hair mineral analysis and other methods are better tools to analyze, but in the case of magnesium– it’s almost certain you have a degree of deficiency. This is because over half of Americans don’t meet their daily requirement intake 3. Those who do, aren’t necessarily taking enough to thrive– since stress depletes magnesium, consuming the daily recommended minimum typically isn’t enough.
When we explore the relationship magnesium has to so many different processes in the body (including the metabolism of Vitamin D), we can see that this deficiency cascades into a wide range of other problems 4.
Some of the symptoms of low magnesium levels in the body include: 5-6
- Kidney and liver damage
- Migraines and headaches
- Restless leg syndrome
- Mood swings
- Poor recovery from exercise
- Poor sleep quality or insomnia
- Nutrient deficiencies for other nutrients, including vitamin D, K, vitamin B1, calcium, and potassium
- PMS symptoms
- Weaker bones
- Recurring bacterial or fungal infections
- Muscle weakness and cramps
The Benefits of Magnesium
Magnesium has so many benefits that we would be here all day listing them out, but some of the top ones include the following:
- Mitigate Inflammation
Low magnesium levels are associated with increased inflammatory and oxidative stress in the body. C-reactive protein (CRP) is one of the metrics of low-grade or chronic inflammation, and magnesium levels have an inverse relationship with CRP 7. A study highlights that those taking magnesium supplements have a likelihood of elevated CRP levels being 22% lower than those not taking supplements 8.
- Supports Sleep Quality
Many people associate magnesium as a sleeping aid, and studies show magnesium supplementation supports various aspects of sleep 9. They include sleep time, sleep efficiency, the concentration of serum renin and melatonin, a decrease in sleep onset latency, and serum cortisol concentration 10.
There are various reasons, but one is magnesium’s ability to improve muscle relaxation. Magnesium is also linked to the regulation of the neurotransmitters that are directly related to sleep 10.
- Promotes Healthy Cognition and Brain Health
Magnesium helps regulate neurotransmitters in the body, which send messages throughout your brain. Magnesium is crucial in generating overall brain health and optimal cognitive capabilities 11. Magnesium deficiency is also associated with migraines. Several studies suggest you can use magnesium supplements to treat migraine headaches 12.
- Supports Muscle Recovery
Magnesium helps muscle recovery in a few ways. Magnesium helps regulate contractions of the heart muscle, relaxes and smooths muscles (including blood vessels, skeletal muscles, and GI tract), enhances protein synthesis, promotes energy production within the cell, and supports DNA synthesis 3. Various muscle-related ailments are also associated with magnesium deficiency, including ALS and cramping 13.
- Supports Heart Health
Magnesium supplementation is associated with lowering blood pressure 14. Supplementation has also been associated with fewer strokes 15. Finally, magnesium supports heart health by improving triglyceride, cholesterol, and systolic blood pressure levels 16.
- Natural Support for PMS
There are many studies in the realm of gynecological health and magnesium. With adequate magnesium, many symptoms associated with pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) can be alleviated and even prevented altogether. Symptoms, including menstrual migraines, and cramps, have well-documented success with magnesium supplementation since most women do not get enough of the mineral through diet alone 17. Another study demonstrated 250mg of magnesium daily supplementing to decrease bloating, depression, and anxiety in pre-menstrual women 18.
- Supports the Metabolism of Other Nutrients
Understanding the relationship one nutrient has to another can be confusing since there is so much interconnectedness between minerals, vitamins, micronutrients, and macronutrients. For example, one of magnesium’s interactions with other nutrients is vitamin D 11. Magnesium assists in the metabolism of vitamin D, meaning it is a required part of your body using vitamin D. Having enough magnesium in the body, therefore, becomes directly linked to all the benefits of vitamin D as well! Vitamin D then plays a crucial role in calcium and phosphorus absorption, which means magnesium also plays a role in bone health and more 19.
- Natural Support for Depression and Anxiety
Magnesium has mood-boosting properties that can be a natural support for some forms of depression and anxiety. Various studies link low magnesium intake to increased levels and greater risks of developing depression 20. Some studies go as far as to suggest that magnesium could be as effective as antidepressants in treating depression 21.
With the various crippling side effects that many pharmaceutical medications for depression and anxiety can have on humans, the studies demonstrating significant improvement in both symptoms are very promising. One study highlights the benefits in as little as six weeks 22. In addition, systematic literature reviews agree that magnesium is effective even in samples of very vulnerable people 23.
Are You Getting Enough Magnesium Through Diet Alone?
You may understand how important this mineral is and be focused on eating enough “magnesium-rich foods,”… but this doesn’t paint a full picture of how much magnesium is actually in your food. How much magnesium a food has, depends on how it was grown.
The amount of magnesium in food directly reflects how much magnesium is in the environment. Unfortunately, our farming practices have been unsustainably depleting the soil’s nutrient stores for hundreds of years. From mono-cropping to over-farming and not treating the soil as a part of a bigger ecosystem, most soil is low in magnesium. You could argue that magnesium deficiency begins in plants 24.
For many, supplementation is simply an easier and more affordable way to ensure you get enough magnesium in your diet. There are various kinds of magnesium, or you can opt for a blend that can fill the gaps that are missing not only in your diet but, realistically, in the food and back to the soil.
Magnesium is a mineral that the body does not produce endogenously and must be consumed through the diet, supplementation, or topical application. As an electrolyte, it is a vital mineral for hydration and several hundred enzymatic processes in the body.
The benefits of magnesium supplementation are vast and include mitigating inflammation, supporting sleep quality, promoting muscle recovery, heart health, PMS, the metabolism of vitamin D, and natural support for depression and anxiety. Since many food sources are depleted of magnesium in our modern world, using a supplement can be an effective way to get enough magnesium in your diet.
- “Magnesium.” The Nutrition Source, 14 Oct. 2021, www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/magnesium/.
- Jahnen-Dechent, W., and M. Ketteler. “Magnesium Basics.” Clinical Kidney Journal, vol. 5, no. Suppl 1, 2012, pp. i3–i14., doi:10.1093/ndtplus/sfr163.
- Gröber, Uwe et al. “Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy.” Nutrients vol. 7,9 8199-226. 23 Sep. 2015, doi:10.3390/nu7095388
- Reddy, Pramod, and Linda R Edwards. “Magnesium Supplementation in Vitamin D Deficiency.” American journal of therapeutics vol. 26,1 (2019): e124-e132. doi:10.1097/MJT.0000000000000538
- Al-Ghamdi, S. M., Cameron, E. C., & Sutton, R. A. (1994). Magnesium deficiency: Pathophysiologic and clinical overview. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 24(5), 737-752. doi:10.1016/s0272-6386(12)80667-6
- Rude, R. K., Singer, F. R., & Gruber, H. E. (2009). Skeletal and hormonal effects of magnesium deficiency. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 28(2), 131-141. doi:10.1080/07315724.2009.10719764
- Nielsen, Forrest H. “Magnesium, Inflammation, and Obesity in Chronic Disease.” Nutrition Reviews, vol. 68, no. 6, 2010, pp. 333–340., doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00293.x.
- King, Dana E., et al. “Magnesium Supplement Intake and C-Reactive Protein Levels in Adults.” Nutrition Research, vol. 26, no. 5, 2006, pp. 193–196., doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2006.05.001.
- “Does Magnesium Help You Sleep?” Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials, Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials, 28 June 2021, health.clevelandclinic.org/does-magnesium-help-you-sleep/.
- Abbasi, Behnood, et al. “The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences vol. 17,12 (2012): 1161-9.
- Peeri, Noah C., et al. “Association of Magnesium Intake and Vitamin D Status with Cognitive Function in Older Adults: An Analysis of US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011 to 2014.” European Journal of Nutrition, vol. 60, no. 1, 2020, pp. 465–474., doi:10.1007/s00394-020-02267-4.
- Chiu, Hsiao-Yean, et al. “Effects of Intravenous and Oral Magnesium on Reducing Migraine: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Pain physician vol. 19,1 (2016): E97-112.
- Garrison, Scott R, et al. “Magnesium for Skeletal Muscle Cramps.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, vol. 2020, no. 9, 2020, doi:10.1002/14651858.cd009402.pub3.
- Zhang, Xi et al. “Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials.” Hypertension (Dallas, Tex. : 1979) vol. 68,2 (2016): 324-33. doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.116.07664
- Rosique-Esteban, Nuria et al. “Dietary Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review with Emphasis in Epidemiological Studies.” Nutrients vol. 10,2 168. 1 Feb. 2018, doi:10.3390/nu10020168
- Verma, H, and R Garg. “Effect of magnesium supplementation on type 2 diabetes associated cardiovascular risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Journal of human nutrition and dietetics: the official journal of the British Dietetic Association vol. 30,5 (2017): 621-633. doi:10.1111/jhn.12454
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- Ebrahimi, Elham, et al. “Effects of magnesium and vitamin b6 on the severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms.” Journal of caring sciences vol. 1,4 183-9. 22 Nov. 2012, doi:10.5681/jcs.2012.026
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