Here are 9 potential health benefits of magnesium
When most people think of important electrolytes to replace after intense training, sodium and potassium are usually the first that come to mind. While these are indeed essential electrolytes lost in sweat, there is another key player that is often overlooked: magnesium. Magnesium is an essential electrolyte and mineral involved in over 300 different enzymatic reactions in the body, with functions ranging from regulating blood sugar and blood pressure to protein synthesis and conducting nerve and muscle impulses . As an electrolyte, magnesium helps transport calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, which are needed to sustain heart contractions, nerve impulses, and other skeletal and smooth muscle contractions.
Because there are several vital functions of magnesium in the body, there are many benefits associated with taking magnesium supplements or consuming magnesium-rich foods to ensure adequate intake. Keep reading for a list of magnesium benefits and make sure you don’t miss out on this essential nutrient for your health.
Benefits of Magnesium
The health benefits of magnesium in the body are linked to the many physiological functions of this mineral. The main benefits of magnesium are:
Magnesium can strengthen your bones
Adequate magnesium intake can prevent osteoporosis and protect your bone health because it plays a key role in bone formation. Magnesium levels affect parathyroid hormone and vitamin D levels, which are also involved in maintaining bone health by increasing calcium absorption to better mineralize bones and prevent thinning. Research has consistently shown that low levels of magnesium are correlated with increased rates of osteoporosis and that magnesium supplementation in osteoporotic women can mitigate further bone loss.
Magnesium can boost your workouts
If you’re looking to improve your physical performance and recovery, look to magnesium. This mineral helps transport glucose into your muscles and extract lactate from them, which can help reduce muscle fatigue.
Magnesium can reduce inflammation
We often think of inflammation as just an acute swelling felt after an ankle sprain or bruise, but chronic low-grade inflammation is actually at the root of many diseases such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis and obesity. This can result, among other things, from damage to the intestinal barrier, poor diet and stress. Low levels of magnesium have also been shown to be linked to higher levels of inflammation. Getting enough magnesium is one way to reduce inflammation in your body and reduce your risk of associated chronic diseases.
Magnesium can prevent migraines
Research shows that low levels of magnesium can trigger migraines because magnesium deficiency causes blood vessels in the brain to constrict, which can lead to a severe headache or even a migraine. Studies have shown that for migraine sufferers, ensuring adequate magnesium intake can reduce migraine frequency by more than 40% on average. However, you should speak with your doctor if you regularly suffer from migraines and wish to take magnesium supplements specifically to treat your condition. Even if you don’t regularly suffer from debilitating migraines, you may find that increasing your magnesium intake prevents annoying tension headaches.
Magnesium can improve your mood
One of the benefits of magnesium is that it can reduce anxiety and depression. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to depression, while higher serum concentrations appear to help improve mood and reduce anxiety.
Magnesium can help you sleep better
Magnesium promotes muscle relaxation and calms the nervous system, which can help your body relax for optimal sleep. Many people find that a magnesium-rich snack before bed can promote a restful night’s sleep.
Magnesium May Regulate Your Blood Sugar and Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Magnesium plays an important role in assisting insulin, the hormone that helps your body regulate blood sugar levels in your body. Those with low levels of magnesium have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Also, once you have type 2 diabetes, your risk of magnesium deficiency increases even further because your kidneys excrete more magnesium, which depletes your reserves.
Magnesium can lower your blood pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the major risk factors for heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease. Research has shown that magnesium supplementation can lower blood pressure somewhat. For example, a large scale meta-analysis over 22 studies found that magnesium supplementation caused small but clinically relevant decreases in blood pressure (3-4 mmHg for systolic blood pressure and 2-3 mgHg for diastolic blood pressure).
Additionally, a study examining the protective effects of magnesium on heart disease found that, compared to subjects in the lowest quartile of the normal physiological serum magnesium range (0.75 mmol/L or less), subjects in the highest quartile (at least 0.88 mmol/L) had a 38% reduced risk of sudden cardiac death. Higher levels of magnesium are also associated with reduced risk of stroke.
Magnesium May Lower Your Risk of Certain Diseases
Magnesium deficiency is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes and migraines. Therefore, ensuring that your magnesium intake is adequate can reduce your risk of these conditions. The risk of magnesium deficiency is higher in people with malabsorption disorders, such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease, as well as in people with alcoholism and type 2 diabetes, both of which can impair the absorption of magnesium or deplete the reserves. Elderly people are also prone to magnesium deficiency because absorption rates decline with age and more magnesium is excreted in urine.
How Much Magnesium Do You Need?
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium for most men is between 400 and 420 mg for men, depending on your age. Your needs increase with age, as absorption rates decrease and excretion rates increase. Endurance athletes are also particularly prone to magnesium deficiencies due to excessive magnesium loss in sweat, so if you train a lot your magnesium needs may be even higher. Unfortunately, national data shows that nearly 50% of adults in the United States do not meet the RDA. However, the good news is that there are many healthy foods rich in magnesium, such as leafy green vegetables, tuna, almonds, avocados, pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate. Eating these foods regularly or taking a magnesium supplement can help ensure your body has an abundant supply of this vital mineral.