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13 Proven Benefits of Magnesium

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD November 11, 2022

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, contributing to hundreds of crucial processes. Protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood sugar, and blood pressure control are just a few functions that rely on magnesium.

Your body doesn’t make magnesium on its own. You must obtain your magnesium intake from water, magnesium-rich foods, and sometimes dietary supplements. How much magnesium you need daily varies between men and women.

If you’re unsure of the importance magnesium brings to your health and wellness, keep reading! This article covers 13 proven health benefits of magnesium.

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1. Improves Digestion

The mineral magnesium makes digesting food possible as it is closely involved in your digestive processes. It activates the enzymes that enable the body to break down food into smaller parts to use for energy.

Low magnesium levels can contribute to constipation. Magnesium helps draw water into the intestines, softening stool and making it easier to pass. People may use magnesium supplements to relieve constipation due to the nutrient’s laxative properties.

2. May Improve Physical Performance

Although more research is necessary, studies indicate that magnesium may improve energy metabolism efficiency and exercise performance. Insufficient magnesium levels may compromise physical performance as the magnesium needs of individuals increase with increased physical activity.

As magnesium aids muscle contraction and relaxation, it may protect the muscles during exercise, preventing muscle damage. It supplies energy to your muscles by moving blood sugar and removing the build-up of lactate.

3. Reduces Symptoms of Depression

Low magnesium levels are associated with a higher risk of depression, particularly in younger adults. Taking magnesium supplements has been shown to improve symptoms of depression in individuals with both depression and magnesium deficiencies.

4. May Reduce Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

Boosting your magnesium levels may reduce the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. As magnesium helps regulate blood sugar levels, low levels of the nutrient may impair the body’s ability to manage blood sugar effectively.

A chronic magnesium deficiency is common in people with type 2 diabetes, and a low intake is associated with developing type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.

Increasing your magnesium blood level with diet or supplementation appears to be a promising step for improving insulin sensitivity and lowering the risk of diabetes.

5. Keeps Your Heart Healthy

Magnesium is essential to cardiovascular health and normal heart function. It plays a central role, alongside calcium and potassium, in maintaining a healthy heart rhythm.

These electrolytes ensure muscle contractions and nerve function to keep a steady heartbeat. Irregular heartbeats are a common symptom of magnesium deficiency.

The nutrient also helps regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, contributing to better heart health.

6. Helps Fight Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is often the driving force behind many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It is also associated with bowel diseases and disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Chrohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Low magnesium levels are linked to higher levels of inflammation in the body. According to studies, magnesium can reduce inflammatory cytokine production. Therefore, taking more magnesium can bring anti-inflammatory benefits.

7. May Relieve Headaches and Migraines

Migraines are a common health condition. According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine affects at least 39 million Americans. Frequent headaches and migraines can impact your quality of life.

People who suffer from migraine attacks often have decreased magnesium levels. Magnesium is often used as an alternative to migraine medications to treat and prevent migraines.

Magnesium supplements may reduce migraine headaches, alleviating the frequency and intensity. Additionally, increasing dietary magnesium intake may be beneficial in the preventative treatment of migraine.

8. Helps Improve PMS Symptoms

PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is the name given to the symptoms that appear in women in the weeks leading up to their period. Symptoms can vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms include mood swings, trouble sleeping, bloating, breast tenderness, and headaches.

There is a positive correlation between magnesium supplements and the relief and prevention of PMS symptoms, dysmenorrhea, and menstrual migraine. Taking magnesium supplements alongside vitamin B6 has been shown to decrease symptoms of PMS significantly.

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9. Supports Bone Health

Magnesium plays a vital role in keeping good bone health. Individuals with a higher intake of magnesium have a higher bone mineral density. The higher density lowers the risk of bone fractures, bone loss, and osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a chronic disease that makes your bones more fragile and prone to breaking from minor injuries. Lower bone mineral density and the presence of osteoporosis have been found in several cases where magnesium levels were low.

10. Helps With Certain Sleep Problems and Sleep Quality

The mineral magnesium contributes significantly to sleep regulation in older adults as it affects the nervous system.

Increasing your magnesium intake is sometimes recommended for treating symptoms of insomnia and other sleep disorders. For instance, over eight weeks, patients using magnesium supplementation experienced increased sleep time and greater sleep efficiency.

11. Reduces Asthma Symptoms

Growing evidence suggests that magnesium might have a role to play in managing and reducing asthma symptoms. This may be due to magnesium serving as an anti-inflammatory and bronchodilating agent.

However, more research is needed before oral magnesium is promoted as a treatment for asthmatic individuals.

12. May Reduce Anxiety Symptoms and Stress

There is evidence to suggest that magnesium may reduce and prevent anxiety symptoms in those with mild anxiety and anxiety related to PMS.

Further research proposes that when magnesium levels are deficient, your body may become more susceptible to stress. Therefore, boosting your magnesium levels can be beneficial to your mood.

13. Helps Your Body Function Properly

Put it this way – your body cannot cope without magnesium. It helps the body function as it is responsible for multiple enzyme reactions. It regulates the nerves, aids the immune system, provides energy, and supports muscle movements, among other things. It even supports DNA synthesis.

What Is Magnesium?

Magnesium is an abundant mineral that has numerous functions in the human body. In fact, magnesium plays a role in over 300 enzyme processes that regulate biochemical reactions.

Every organ requires magnesium. It is responsible for normal nerve and muscle function, maintaining a healthy immune system and strong bones, and maintaining a steady heartbeat.

An adult body has approximately 25 grams of magnesium, 50-60% of which is stored in the bones. The remaining 40-50% is primarily present in the soft tissues, muscles, and bodily fluids.

Magnesium is naturally present in certain foods and is a staple part of a healthy diet. It is also added to dietary supplements and some medicines like antacids and laxatives.

The recommended amount of magnesium

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is 400–420mg of magnesium per day for men and 310–320mg per day for women. The amount differs for pregnant women, with around 350–360mg recommended daily.

An adequate magnesium intake is critical for overall health. Sufficient levels are necessary for multiple reasons, from maintaining heart health to regulating blood sugar and blood pressure.

Most people can get enough dietary magnesium from a balanced diet, but magnesium supplementation is available for those who don’t meet the daily requirements.

Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms

A magnesium deficiency occurs when the daily magnesium requirement is not met. Low magnesium levels can contribute to major health conditions like cardiovascular disease if a magnesium deficiency is left untreated. If you are not getting enough magnesium, you may experience a range of unpleasant symptoms.

Early signs of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

As it progresses, the deficiency can cause:

Simple ways to increase magnesium intake

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to reach adequate magnesium levels. You can begin by adding more magnesium-rich foods to your diet to ensure your body gets the many health benefits of magnesium.

The best sources of magnesium come from the following foods:

  • Whole grains, including whole-wheat bread, oats, barley, and brown rice
  • Nuts and seeds, including almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds
  • Leafy greens – spinach, for instance, is an excellent source of magnesium
  • Black beans, kidney beans, and edamame beans
  • Water can also provide magnesium, although how much magnesium it contains depends on the source

Supplemental magnesium provides another method of increasing your intake. As many Americans do not get enough magnesium from diet alone, magnesium supplements offer a quick solution. They can be particularly beneficial to those with a deficiency or conditions that impair the body’s ability to absorb magnesium.

Taking a magnesium supplement has been linked to health benefits like lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk factor for heart disease. But before reaching for dietary supplements, it’s best to try and get enough of the mineral from magnesium-rich foods. It doesn’t take a lot, and you can quickly reach the recommended dietary allowance with a few servings.

Magnesium supplements may provide too much magnesium, leading to adverse side effects like abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and muscle weakness. They can also interact with the way your body absorbs other medications, so always check with your healthcare provider before use.

Popular magnesium supplements include formulations with magnesium citrate, magnesium sulfate, magnesium lactate, magnesium glycinate, and magnesium threonate.

Why Is Magnesium Important in Intermittent Fasting?

Magnesium is crucial for people who fast intermittently. There are many health benefits of magnesium, and eliminating the important nutrient entirely from your diet could trigger a deficiency. For instance, many people experience muscle cramps when fasting, and it could come down to having too little magnesium.

You can avoid the nasty symptoms of a deficiency by ensuring you get enough of the essential mineral before starting a fast. Alternatively, a magnesium supplement will enable your body to function optimally, even without food.

When you fast, your body’s electrolyte levels deplete quickly. Magnesium supplements will help you maintain an electrolyte balance.

If you’re new to intermittent fasting or want to explore the different methods, you can find the key information from DoFasting. You can check out the complete beginner’s guide to IF and gain an overview of what to expect from variations from alternate-day fasting to the warrior diet.

For daily assistance, the DoFasting app provides every tool you need to get started and reach your fasting goals, whatever they may be.

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Conclusion

Dietary magnesium is a necessity for human health. It not only plays an essential role in multiple functions but has several other benefits that can improve almost every aspect of your overall health. Without it, your body cannot function optimally, and you will become prone to various unpleasant side effects.

Monitor your daily magnesium intake, and you will notice the major perks of this essential mineral.

Author

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD
  • Head of Medical Affairs at Kilo Health
  • Medical Doctor at Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • Partnering with the EU-funded Young50 and EUPAP projects

Kasparas Aleknavicius is a medical doctor that graduated from Vilnius University, working as head of medical affairs at Kilo Health. After nearly 5 years in the industry, Kasparas focuses on digital health and is looking for innovative ways to help people lead healthy lifestyles through digital health and wellness platforms.

You can find Kasparas on LinkedIn and follow his latest research on Medium.

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