Magnesium: The Supercharged Mineral that Can Boost Your Brain, Heart, and More!

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Last updated on May 6th, 2023 at 06:10 am

Our bodies require magnesium for more than 300 biochemical reactions which result in the production of enzymes utilized in different organs and functions of the body. Despite its essential role in the maintenance of our body and its health many of us are not getting enough Magnesium in our diets leading to many health issues. In this article, we will discuss magnesium, its effects, food sources, and supplements to ensure that we are maintaining a healthy level of magnesium in our bodies.

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential element that is required for the regulation of various body functions, including muscle and nerve function, stronger bones, and robust immunity.

It is a shiny metal that has low density, and high volatility and is usually found in combination with other elements in nature. It is denoted with the symbol Mg and has an atomic number of 12. Because of its reactive nature, it reacts quickly with the air and forms a thin layer of magnesium oxide preventing further corrosion.

Magnesium is present in different foods, can be found in drugs, and is present in many supplements. It is used in laxatives and acid reflux medications. In our bodies, it works as a conductor of electricity to regulate muscle movement, and muscle strength and prevent arrhythmia of the heart.
It is required for the production of proteins, regulation of blood pressure (which it does by regulating heartbeats), stronger bones, prevention of blood sugar abnormalities, and better immunity.

Our bodies store almost half of their magnesium in our bones and a little less than half of the total magnesium present in the body is stored in different muscles and tissues of the body.

What does Magnesium do for the body?

Magnesium is needed for communication between the cells and acts as an electric conductor for different cell functions, which is required for the proper function of the heart, muscles, bones, and nerves. The importance of magnesium is established not just through anecdotal experiences but by several studies which have identified magnesium deficiency as the main causing factor for several health issues. Many studies indicate that a magnesium-rich diet prevents several diseases and lowers the chances of getting sick. However, it has to be mentioned that most food items that are rich in magnesium are also good sources of other nutrients so it is possible that all these nutrients collectively are needed for disease prevention.

Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium is a macromineral that regulates energy production, glycolysis, and bone structure formation. It helps in the synthesis of DNA, and RNA and is required for the production of antioxidant glutathione or GSH.

Magnesium and bone health

Almost half of the total magnesium present in our bodies is stored in our bones, in fact, 50-60% of it, which means that magnesium is extremely important for healthy bones. It can prevent osteoporosis, and increase bone crystal formation. Magnesium is also needed for the regulation of vitamin D and calcium levels both of which are important for healthy bones.
In females, it can prevent bone density loss after menopause.

Magnesium for Diabetes

A research review conducted in 2015 observed that almost all the patients suffering from Type-2 Diabetes have low serum magnesium levels.
Magnesium is vital for the control of glucose and the metabolism of insulin. Studies suggest that a high magnesium diet has been observed to prevent and manage the severity of diabetes.

Magnesium for Athletes

Magnesium is an essential element and is required in the production of energy and Glutathione. It promotes better oxygen utilization, regulates and prevents arrhythmia, and regulates the production of cortisol among other things, all of this is extremely vital for an athlete’s performance. Thus, optimum levels of magnesium are beneficial for athletes.

Magnesium Deficiency

Even though we have yet to document all the benefits of a magnesium-rich diet, because of its use in almost every cell of the body, studies have already linked magnesium deficiency to several health issues. Also, as one of the seven macrominerals we need to consume a large amount of magnesium ( around 100 mg) every day, failing to do so would lead to health problems.

Magnesium deficiency Or low Magnesium Symptoms:

  • Fatigue.
  • Loss of Hunger.
  • Stiffness of muscles.
  • Nausea.
  • Muscle Spasms.
  • Arrhythmia.
  • Loss of feeling in fingertips.
  • Personality changes.
  • Seizures.
  • Hypertension.
  • Diabetes.
  • Loss of bone mass.
  • Headaches.

Magnesium Food Sources and Supplements

Magnesium is present in many food sources and is not hard to incorporate into your diet plan even if you are a vegetarian or vegan. It is generally found in any food which has dietary fiber which means it is present in green leafy vegetables, fruits, and almost any food you can think of which is used for its fiber content would give you magnesium as well. Of course, some food items have a high amount of concentrated magnesium and those are:

  • Nuts- Cashews, Almonds, Peanuts, Hazelnuts, Walnuts.
  • Seeds- Chia, Pumpkin, Sunflower.
  • Beans- Black, Kidney, Soybeans, Mungbeans, Pinto beans
  • Oatmeal (instant, whole oats)
  • Seafood- ShellFish, Salmon, Oysters, Tuna, Conch.
  • Fruits- Tamarind, Pears, Durian, Avocados, Apples, Bananas
  • Dark chocolate (with at least 70% chocolate)
  • Dairy Products (Milk, Yogurt)
  • RedMeat
  • Poultry
  • Peanut butter
  • Cooked spinach
  • White potato with skin
  • Brown rice

Magnesium Supplements are available in combination with other compounds due to their highly reactive nature, it is therefore combined with sodium, citric acid, vitamin C, and other compounds including amino acids. When magnesium is combined with an amino acid it is called chelated magnesium.

Magnesium Supplements are marketed in the form of oils, bath salts, tablets, capsules, and sprays. Usually, it is combined with other vitamins, minerals, and herbs to increase its bioavailability and stop it from reacting with the air. It is most commonly available in the form of magnesium citrate, glycinate, chloride, lactate, malate, taurate, sulfate, and oxide. Out of all these forms of magnesium, Magnesium Glycinate is well tolerated and has minimal side effects as documented in a study.

How much Magnesium should I take per day?

Kids

  • Toddlers: 80 mg
  • Young Kids: 130 mg

Male

  • Teenagers: 410 mg
  • 19-30 years: 400 mg
  • 30+ years: 420 Mg

Female

  • Teenagers: 360 mg
  • 19-30 years:310 mg
  • 30+ years: 320 mg

*Pregnant women should increase their daily intake of magnesium by 40 mg/day.

Takeaways

Magnesium being a macronutrient plays an important role in DNA, RNA, and GSH synthesis and is vital for our body. It promotes bone crystal formation, helps in energy production, and is a conductor which is needed for neuron signals, cell growth, and antioxidant production. Magnesium deficiency leads to various health issues yet, US national nutrition survey data shows that most people are not getting enough magnesium in their diets, which could be easily supplemented through various magnesium supplements.