Magnesium is a mineral that has a lot of important roles in the body but it is also one of the nutrients that many people don’t consume regularly or in high enough amounts through their diet. It’s linked to over 300 chemical reactions in the body so it’s not hard to see why a deficiency can affect your health in lots of different ways. Here are some of the main health benefits of magnesium and why it is such an important mineral.
It Reduces Fatigue
Magnesium helps boost the body’s energy levels and is essential for reducing tiredness. It also helps the body to release more energy from food. Fatigue is one of the signs that a magnesium deficiency may be present. It’s likely that you will also need more oxygen during exercise if you have a deficiency. Studies on women with a magnesium deficiency have indicated that they required more oxygen to carry out even non-strenuous activities.
It Can Improve Cardiovascular Health
Magnesium is linked to heart health. It works alongside calcium to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of high blood pressure. A study looking at patients with heart disease found that taking magnesium supplements twice daily for six months helped to improve the health of their blood vessels. In another study, patients taking 450 mg of magnesium every day were able to reduce both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure. For now, it’s thought that these type of results may only be relevant for people with high blood pressure and that there may not be the same effects for lower blood pressure.
It Can Reduce the Risk of Diabetes
Magnesium is heavily linked to insulin production and blood glucose levels. It can help people with diabetes to keep their blood sugar under control, but it also has benefits for people who do not currently have diabetes. If you don’t get enough magnesium, studies have shown that it can potentially pave the way for developing diabetes.
It Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Magnesium is linked to GABA, a neurotransmitter that is involved in serotonin production. Magnesium also regulates hormones that help to calm the mind and encourage relaxation. Studies have also shown a connection between magnesium deficiency and an increase in the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. A study looking at over 8,000 people found that low levels of magnesium increase the risk of depression.
It Can Reduce Pain Levels
Studies have shown that magnesium can nerve pain linked to a brain chemical called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA). Magnesium may have the power to reduce nerve pain by calming the production of NMDA. Magnesium helps the muscles to relax, which can relieve pain associated with sore muscles and leg cramps. It can also help with muscle cramping and reduce the muscle cramps associated with premenstrual syndrome.
It Prevents Constipation
Magnesium helps to relax the muscles in the intestines, which can be very beneficial for regular bowel movements. It helps pull water into your intestines, which helps to make stools softer and easier to pass. For constipation, it can relieve the discomfort.
It Can Relieve Migraines
As a muscle relaxant, magnesium can also help to make migraines less frequent and not so severe. People with low magnesium levels often experience migraines, and this can be one of the signs of a deficiency.
It Keeps Bones and Teeth Healthy
Magnesium is partly stored in the bones so you won’t be surprised to know that it can affect the health of your bones and teeth. It is also involved in regulating the body’s levels of other vitamins and minerals that are needed for bone health, including calcium, vitamin D, copper and zinc. Long term magnesium deficiency can increase the chances of developing osteoporosis as the body will pull magnesium from the bones when it does not get enough from your diet.
It Can Improve Sleep
Magnesium helps to relax the muscles and calm the mind, both of which can be highly beneficial for getting good sleep.
It Can Improve Asthma Symptoms
Studies have shown that taking magnesium supplements can help to improve asthma symptoms, including reducing wheezing and making breathing more comfortable. Some people with asthma have low levels of magnesium in their blood, and it is thought that magnesium has the ability to relax the bronchial muscles so that asthma symptoms are less severe.
Increases Energy Levels
Magnesium boosts your energy and eliminates fatigue. Chronically high levels of stress hormones can drain the body’s magnesium levels. Chronic stress is closely linked to chronic fatigue, so it’s unsurprising that the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome look a lot like the symptoms of magnesium deficiency. One study found that 50 percent of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome were also magnesium deficient. These patients had reduced symptoms of fatigue when they supplemented with magnesium for six weeks.
In addition to reducing fatigue, magnesium supplementation also helps reduce anxiety and stress, which in turn can reduce fatigue and prevent chronic fatigue syndrome.
Inside the mitochondria of cells, which is the powerhouse that energizes them, magnesium helps synthesize ATP–the high-energy molecule that stores and supplies cells with the energy they need to function. Due to its role in energy production and muscle function, magnesium also improves physical performance, improving your energy levels during exercise. Studies show that magnesium supplementation improves performance in athletes even when they aren’t deficient in magnesium.
Boosts Antioxidant Function
Another role magnesium plays in the mitochondria of cells is detoxifying the cell of oxygen to prevent oxidation. Insufficient magnesium levels can cause increased production of reactive oxygen species, also known as free radicals. Lab studies on cells have found there is reduced antioxidant capacity when magnesium is lacking, resulting in oxidative stress and inflammation. In turn, this leads to structural and functional damage to proteins and DNA within cells. Therefore, magnesium is key to controlling oxidative stress, maintaining healthy cells, and, by extension, preventing disease.
Low magnesium levels are associated with faster aging and the progression of age-related diseases. In human cell culture studies, magnesium-deficient cells have been found to die sooner due to impaired energy metabolism. Other research has linked higher magnesium intake to the prevention of hearing loss in older adults. Because magnesium supports nerve regeneration and cellular metabolism, it can support cognitive function in elderly people and slow the progression of cognitive decline. Because it reduces inflammation, it can protect the brain and body from inflammatory diseases associated with old age.
Signs of Magnesium Deficiency
It can be difficult to confirm whether a magnesium deficiency is present as most of it is stored in the bones. This can make blood tests inconclusive in assessing what your true levels are. Blood serum tests can be a bit more accurate, and saliva and urine tests can also be used. These still don’t provide a fully accurate picture of magnesium levels.
Fatigue is one of the most significant signs that you could have a magnesium deficiency. Others include poor memory and concentration, muscle cramps, an irregular heartbeat, and anxiety. If you don’t get enough magnesium from your diet, supplements will help to overcome these type of symptoms