Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and the second most common intracellular cation (positively charged ion) after potassium, magnesium is required for the healthy function of most cells in your body, especially your heart, kidneys and muscles.
Magnesium’s benefits can include reduced symptoms from conditions such as chronic pain, fatigue and insomnia. Magnesium may also provide protection from a number of chronic diseases, especially those associated with aging and stress.
Essential to life, necessary for good health, and a vital component within our cells, magnesium’s benefits help our bodies maintain balance, avoid illness, perform well under stress, and maintain a general state of good health.
What conditions can benefit from Magnesium?
Magnesium is known to reduce muscle tension, lessen pain associated with migraine headaches, improve sleep, and address neurological disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Conditions linked to magnesium levels include:
- Muscle cramps and spasms.
Mental health and sleep:
- Autism and ADHD;
- Restless Leg Syndrome;
- Psoriasis, Acne and Eczema;
- Hypertension (elevated blood pressure);
Magnesium works within our cells. The powerhouses, factories and regulators of the body’s systems.
Because it is a necessary part of hundreds of biochemical reactions occurring constantly inside our cells, magnesium’s presence or absence affects the brain, the muscles, and the heart and blood vessels.
The importance of Magnesium?
There are fifteen essential minerals required by our bodies to function properly. These can be divided into trace minerals, those required in very small amounts, and major minerals, those required in larger amounts.
The six major minerals required in excess of 250 mg per day include:
Magnesium impacts nearly all of systems of the body due to its cellular and molecular function. It has vital role as a co-factor to over 300 enzyme functions.
Not only one of the most vital and essential enzyme co-factors, regulating more reactions than any other mineral, but magnesium is also responsible for two of the most important cellular functions: energy production and cellular reproduction.
Magnesium and heart health
Insufficient magnesium tends to trigger muscle spasms, and this has consequences for your heart in particular. This is especially true if you also have excessive calcium, as calcium causes muscle contractions.
Magnesium also functions as an electrolyte, which is crucial for all electrical activity in your body. Without electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium and sodium, electrical signals cannot be sent or received, and without these signals, your heart cannot pump blood and your brain cannot function properly.
The heart has the highest magnesium requirement of any organ, specifically your left ventricle. With insufficient amounts of magnesium, the heart simply cannot function properly. Elevated blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and sudden cardiac death are all potential effects of magnesium deficiency and/or a lopsided magnesium to calcium ratio.
This systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2013, concluded that circulating and dietary magnesium are inversely associated with CVD risk. Simply put, this means the lower your magnesium intake (and the lower the circulating magnesium in your body), the higher your risk for CVD.
Other notable effects include:
- Is an important factor in muscle relaxation and heart health;
- Creating energy in your body by activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP);
- Allows nerves to send messages in the brain and nervous system;
- Aids and regulates the body’s use of calcium and other minerals;
- Assists in bone and teeth formation;
- Regulates the metabolism of nutrients such as protein, nucleic acids, fats and carbohydrates;
- Regulates cholesterol production and helps modulate insulin sensitivity;
- Assists in energy production, DNA transcription and protein synthesis;
- Maintains the structural health of cell membranes throughout the body.
Foods high in Magnesium
Magnesium in food sources were once commonly consumed, but have diminished in the last century due to industrialized agriculture and a shifting to more modern westernized diets. Below is a list of foods that are high in dietary magnesium:
- Pumpkin Seeds;
- Swiss Chard;
- Dark Cocoa Powder;
Who should supplement with Magnesium?
Magnesium has been linked to reduced incidence of common conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome in large peer-reviewed, long-term studies.
Studies today focus on whether active magnesium supplementation may be one of the missing links to preventing these diseases, as well as several disorders affecting the brain, muscles and skin.
The good news is that magnesium supplementation is a safe and effective way for most people to ensure they are getting enough magnesium to stay healthy, before deficiencies arise.
How much Magnesium to supplement
While the RDI for magnesium is around 310 to 420 mg per day depending on your age and sex, many experts believe you may need around 600 to 900 mg per day.