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The Benefits of Magnesium
Magnesium may not be as popular as other minerals like calcium and sodium, but it’s one of the most crucial minerals for human health.
Every organ in the body uses magnesium in one way or another. On top of this, magnesium regulates the levels of many other important nutrients in your body, like calcium, potassium, and zinc. It’s involved in more than 300 enzyme systems in the body and is essential for energy production and metabolism.
Magnesium is found in many common food items. Green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds in particular are rich in magnesium. Unfortunately, the average American diet often fails to provide enough magnesium. The kidneys regulate magnesium levels in the body, so a deficiency of magnesium is rare. However, a diet too low in magnesium over time may increase in the risk of certain chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.
Certain conditions like gastrointestinal illnesses, diabetes, alcoholism, or kidney disease can increase a person’s risk of a magnesium deficiency.
Signs of a magnesium deficiency include:
- restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- abnormal heart rhythms
- low blood pressure
- muscle weakness or twitching
- nausea and vomiting
Magnesium is crucial for your body to function. Getting enough magnesium could be the missing link to a healthier you.
1. Heart Health
Magnesium plays many important roles in heart health. It helps reduce high blood pressure (hypertension), though only a small amount, and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
It could even reduce your chances of having a stroke. A meta-analysis of seven clinical trials in a total of 241,378 people found that adding 100 milligrams of magnesium per day to the diet was associated with an 8 percent reduced risk of stroke.
2. Reduces the Frequency of Migraines
A migraine headache can be an unbearable experience.
Migraines cause intense pain that may make performing daily tasks very difficult. Prevention is usually the best treatment. According to the National Institutes of Health, people who experience frequent migraines have lower levels of magnesium in their tissues and blood compared to people who don’t suffer from migraines. The recommended amount of magnesium that was shown to possibly help prevent migraines (around 600 milligrams/day) is higher than the upper limit recommended (350 mg supplemental sources/day), so if you choose to do this, be sure to check with your healthcare provider first.
3. Supports Healthy Bones
Magnesium is involved in bone formation in the body. It works hand in hand with calcium. It also affects vitamin D status. Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D play a major role in preventing osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that most frequently affects postmenopausal women. It can increase a person’s risk of fractures and cause substantial pain and suffering in the elderly. Research suggests that a diet low in magnesium is associated with lower than normal bone density. Other studies have shown that higher intake of magnesium can help prevent osteoporosis in both men and women.
4. Fights Depression
Magnesium is connected with the biochemistry of the brain and neurons. Several studies have shown a link between magnesium supplements and treating depression.
One study even found that several people with depression experienced a rapid recovery less than a week after taking magnesium with each meal and at bedtime. The authors concluded that magnesium is a safe and valuable addition to the prevention and management of depression. More studies are needed to better assess magnesium’s role in depression.
5. Reduces Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Diets high in magnesium are associated with a lower risk of diabetes.
This might be due to the role that magnesium plays in the metabolism of glucose. A meta-analysis of several studies demonstrated that an increase in magnesium-rich foods or magnesium supplements was inversely associated with type 2 diabetes. Magnesium deficiency might also worsen insulin resistance, which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes and associated with prediabetes.
6. Relieves Symptoms of PMS
Studies suggest that magnesium supplements can help relieve some of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS is a set of emotional and physical symptoms that some women experience right before they get their period. Magnesium supplements might help reduce the following PMS symptoms:
- fluid retention
- mood swings
7. Lowers Risk of Certain Cancers
A higher intake of magnesium could reduce the risk of certain cancers. A review of several studies that looked at the association between magnesium intake and colon cancer found that higher magnesium intake reduces the risk of colon cancer. More research is needed.
Where to Get Magnesium
The Food and Drug Administration’s recommended daily amount, or daily value (DV), for an adult male, is 400-420 milligrams per day. For nonpregnant or lactating adult females, it is 310-320 mg per day. Magnesium is commonly found in plant and animals foods. It’s also added to some fortified cereals.
Magnesium is abundant in the foods we eat. Green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds are the best sources of magnesium. One cup of spinach provides nearly 40 percent of the recommended daily amount of magnesium (157 milligrams). A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds has nearly half (191 milligrams) of the recommended daily amount.
Major dietary sources of magnesium include the following:
- nuts like almonds, peanuts, cashews, brazil nuts, pine nuts, pistachios, and almonds
- seeds like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, squash seeds, flaxseeds, and sesame seeds
- green leafy vegetables like spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, cabbage, and kale
- whole-wheat flour
- bran cereals
- legumes like kidney, soy, navy, lima, pinto, and black beans
- milk and yogurt
- blackstrap molasses
- cocoa powder and chocolate
- herbs, spices, and seaweeds like agar seaweed, dill, sage, coriander, basil, fennel seeds, dried mustard, tarragon, cumin, and poppy
To ensure that you’re getting enough magnesium, increase your intake of whole grains, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables. These foods are also packed with other important vitamins and minerals. If you don’t think you’re getting enough magnesium from your diet, consider taking a supplement.
Magnesium supplements are available in a variety of forms. These include magnesium oxide, citrate, and chloride. You can find many magnesium products available on Amazon.com:
- Doctor’s Best high absorption magnesium
- Now Foods magnesium oxide power
- Nature’s Made magnesium citrate softgels
Be sure to check the product label before you start taking a magnesium supplement, and follow all dosage instructions. The kidneys usually filter out excess magnesium in the urine, so an overdose isn’t likely to happen. However, high doses of magnesium can lead to diarrhea and abdominal cramping. This is why magnesium is a primary ingredient in some laxatives. The upper limit recommended for supplemental magnesium is 300 mg/day.
As with any supplement, consult your doctor before taking it. Be sure to tell your doctor about any other medications or supplements you are taking or any other conditions you might have. High levels of magnesium can be toxic for people with kidney problems.