Magnesium is something we hear about on occasion and it seems to be important. But how important is magnesium? The intention of this article is to answer that question.
What is Magnesium?
What is magnesium and what does it do? Magnesium is a mineral. It is used by the body as a nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy. Magnesium is important for several processes within the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood glucose levels, as well as blood pressure levels and building protein, bone, and DNA.
About 60% of the magnesium within the body is found in bone, whilst the remainder is in muscles, soft tissues and fluids, including blood (1Trusted Source). In effect, every cell in the body contains it and needs it to function.
What are the Benefits of Magnesium?
Exercise helper— Magnesium plays a role in exercise performance. During exercise, we may need 10–20% more magnesium than when we’re resting, depending on the activity (4Trusted Source).
Magnesium helps move blood sugar into the muscles and dispose of lactate, which can build up in muscles during exercise and cause pain (5Trusted Source). It is what makes us sore from exercise; especially if it involves muscles that aren’t used to being active.
Studies have shown that supplementing with it can boost exercise performance for athletes, the elderly and other people with chronic disease.
However, the evidence is mixed. Other studies have found no advantage of magnesium supplements in athletes with low or normal levels of the mineral.
Helps with depression—Magnesium plays a critical role in functions involving the brain and mood, and low levels are coupled to an increased risk of depression (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).
One analysis in over eight thousand-eight hundred (8,800) people found that people under the age of 65 with the lowest magnesium intake had a 22% greater risk of depression (14Trusted Source).
Some experts believe the low magnesium content of modern food (e.g. fast foods) may cause many cases of depression and mental illness (15Trusted Source). However, others emphasize the necessity for more research in this matter (16Trusted Source).
Nevertheless, supplementing with this mineral may help reduce symptoms of depression — and in some cases, the results can be impressive (15Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
In a randomized controlled trial in depressed older adults, 450 mg of magnesium daily improved mood as effectively as an antidepressant medication.
It fights against type 2 diabetes— Studies indicate that about 48% of people with type 2 diabetes have low levels of magnesium in their blood. This can inhibit insulin’s capacity to keep blood sugar levels under control (18Trusted Source).
Furthermore, research indicates that people with a low magnesium intake have a higher risk of developing diabetes (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
One study which followed more than 4,000 people for 20 years found that those with the highest magnesium intake were 47% less likely to develop diabetes (21Trusted Source).
Another study showed that people with type 2 diabetes taking high doses of magnesium each day experienced significant improvements in blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c levels, compared to a control group (22Trusted Source).
However, these effects may depend upon what proportion of magnesium you’re getting from food. In a different study, supplements didn’t improve blood glucose or insulin levels in people that weren’t deficient (23Trusted Source).
Can lower blood pressure— Studies have shown that taking magnesium can lower blood pressure (24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).
In one study, people who took 450 mg per day experienced a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure (27Trusted Source).
However, these benefits may only occur in people who have high blood pressure.
Another study found that magnesium lowered blood pressure in people with high blood pressure but had no effect on those with normal levels (28Trusted Source).
Contains anti-inflammatory advantages— Low magnesium intake is linked to chronic inflammation, which is one of the products of aging, obesity and chronic disease (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).
In one study, children rock bottom blood magnesium levels were found to posses the maximum levels of the inflammatory marker CRP. CRP stands for C-reactive protein. It is a protein made by the liver. The level of CRT in the blood increase when there is a condition causing inflammation somewhere in the body. They also had higher blood glucose, insulin and triglyceride levels.
Magnesium supplements can reduce CRP and other markers of inflammation in older adults, overweight people and those with prediabetes (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).
In the same way, high-magnesium foods — like fatty fish and bitter sweet dark chocolate — can reduce inflammation.
Tempers insulin resistance— Insulin resistance is one of the leading causes of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. For more information on metabolic syndrome, see the article, The Facts about metabolic syndrome on this website.
Insulin resistance is characterized by a diminished ability of muscle and liver cells to properly absorb sugar from the bloodstream. Magnesium plays a vital role in this process, and many people with metabolic syndrome are deficient.
In addition, the high levels of insulin that accompany insulin resistance lead to the loss of magnesium through urine, further reducing your body’s levels (41Trusted Source).
Fortunately, increasing magnesium intake can help. One study found that using this mineral as a supplement reduced insulin resistance and blood sugar levels, even in people with normal blood levels (45Trusted Source).
It Improves PMS Symptoms
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is among the foremost common disorders among women of childbearing age. Its symptoms include, abdominal cramps, tiredness, water retention, and irritability.
Interestingly, magnesium has been shown to improve mood, reduce water retention and other symptoms in women with PMS (46Trusted Source, 47Trusted Source).
It is evident from the benefits addressed above that magnesium is very important to our bodies.
How do we get Magnesium?
Magnesium is found naturally in many foods and is also added to some fortified foods. An individual can get recommended amounts of magnesium by eating a variety of foods, including the following:
- Milk, yogurt, and some other milk products
- Fortified breakfast cereals and other fortified foods
- Legumes, seeds, whole grains
- Pumpkin seeds
- Spinach, boiled
- Swiss chard, boiled
- Dark chocolate
- Black beans
- Quinoa, cooked
Magnesium is on the market in multivitamin-mineral supplements and other dietary supplements. The types of magnesium in dietary supplements that are more easily absorbed by the body are magnesium lactate, magnesium aspartate, magnesium citrate, and magnesium chloride.
As mentioned earlier, a study indicated that supplements did not improve blood sugar levels in individuals that weren’t deficient, how do you know if you’re deficient? One sure way to be certain is by supplement our diets with supplements.
Magnesium is also included in some laxatives and some products for treating heartburn and indigestion (e.g. Milk of Magnesia).
However, if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before taking magnesium supplements. Though these are generally well-tolerated, they may not be safe for people who take certain diuretics, heart medications or antibiotics.
If you want to try a magnesium supplement, you can find a huge selection of high-quality products online at the Vitiman Shoppe.
How Much Magnesium do we Need?
Magnesium is a natural mineral that is found in many foods and in our bodies. However, as with all things, there are hazards linked with getting too much.
A magnesium overdose can lead to what is scientifically known as hypermagnesemia. This occurs when there is too much magnesium in the blood. It is likely to occur in people with chronic health conditions, such as chronic kidney disease, although it’s rare.
Magnesium overdose can also result from an excessive amount of a supplement or medication containing magnesium.
Hypermagnesemia is rare because the kidneys job is to get rid of excess magnesium. Overdose with resultant hypermagnesemia is most often seen in individuals with poor kidney function after they take medications containing magnesium, such as laxatives or antacids.
It’s because of this risk that individuals with kidney disease are cautioned against taking magnesium supplements or medications that contain this magnesium. The associated risks are also higher for individuals with heart disease and gastrointestinal disorders.
Symptoms of excessive magnesium are:
- nausea and vomiting
- muscle weakness
- abnormal electrical conduction in the heart
- low blood pressure
- urine retention
- respiratory distress
- cardiac arrest
But an individual can also not have enough magnesium. This condition is called hypomagnesemia. The cause: low magnesium is typically caused by a decreased in the absorption of magnesium in the gut or increased emission of magnesium in the urine. This is because magnesium levels are principally controlled by the kidneys. The kidneys normally increase or decrease excretion (waste) of magnesium based on what the body needs.
It can also be caused by low dietary intake, alcoholism, and diarrhea.
Symptoms of low magnesium are:
- general weakness
- muscle cramps
- abnormal heart rhythms
- low potassium levels in the blood
- hypoparathyoidism which might result in low calcium levels in the blood chondrocalcinois
- spasticity and tetany
- epileptic seizures
- increased irritability of the nervous system with tremors, basal ganglia calcifications and in extreme and prolonged cases coma, intellectual disability or death.
So, how much do we need?
The diets of most of the people in the US provide a smaller amount than the recommended amounts of magnesium. Men older than 70 and teenage girls are presumably to contain low intakes of magnesium. When the quantity of magnesium individuals get from food and dietary supplements is joined, the total intakes of magnesium are generally above recommended amounts.
According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, healthy adult males should generally intake 400 to 420 milligrams (mg) of magnesium a day. Healthy adult females should consume 310 to 320 mg daily. It is recommended that pregnant women are to consume a higher dose than women who aren’t.
If an individual supplements magnesium, the most an adult should ingest is 350 mg daily. Supplemental magnesium is different from magnesium naturally occurring in the foods we eat.
The office of Dietary supplements also notes that excessive magnesium from food doesn’t pose a health risk in healthy individuals because the kidneys eliminate excess amounts within the urine. It also notes that excessive doses of magnesium from supplements or medications frequently result in diarrhea which can be accompanied by nausea and abdominal cramping.
Magnesium can be prescribed to prevent migraine headaches, with a daily dosage of more than 350 mg a day. However these dosages should only be taken with medical supervision.
Please feel free to leave any question, comment or concern below.
5 thoughts on “How Important is Magnesium”
Magnesium is very important. My mother always told me that, lol. And she was right. I knew that it was important for muscle and bones, but I didn’t know that it helped with depression. Do you think that a lot of people have a lack of magnesium, even if they don’t consume much fast food?
My knee capsule has been inflammated for months, but now it is so much better and the pain is decreasing, slowly though. This is the first time in my life that I deal with such pain for such a long time. Turmeric has helped a lot, and now I am wondering if a magnesium supplement would also help reduce the inflammation and consequently the pain.
I eat lots of dark leafy greens, avocado, nuts, and seeds, and also chocolate, but perhaps a supplement would be a good idea. Are there any brands that you recommend?
Hi Christine – A magnesium supplement can help with inflation. But a supplement I’ve used with good results is called Limbex by Medix Select. It worked very well with my knee pain and it contains all natural ingredients.
This is a great and amazing article. This has really taught me alot on magnesium because I had it didn’t occur to me magnesium are minerals. I have of that countless numbers of times but knew nothing about it. I also learnt Magnesium plays a critical role in functions involving the brain and mood. Thanks for sharing this amazing article
Hi Perryline – Yes, magnesium is an important mineral. I’m happy to know that the article was helpful to you. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!