9 Benefits of Magnesium for Your Mind & Body
Magnesium is a mineral in our bodies that does a myriad of things to help us look and feel our best. There are so many benefits of magnesium it's amazing. It regulates protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure. Magnesium is also required for energy production, glycolysis, and oxidative phosphorylation. It is crucial for the structural development of bone and is required for the production of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione.
Magnesium also helps transport calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm. Basically, it is involved with every physical aspect of our bodies. While it is found in many foods, magnesium is hard to get in large quantities without supplements.
The average adult has about 25 grams of magnesium in their body at any given time. However, it is hard to test for your magnesium level because 50%-60% of it is inside your bones and soft tissues. The FNB developed an RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for daily magnesium intake based off on age and sex. Typically the older you get the more you will need to take because your body will produce less and less.
Studies suggest that about 50% of people in both the US and Europe do not get enough magnesium daily. If you suffer from muscle cramps and twitches, depression or apathy, osteoporosis, fatigue, high blood pressure, or irregular heartbeat you might have a magnesium deficiency. However, all of these symptoms may have several or completely unrelated causes. Asking your doctor to check your magnesium levels (as well as your other vitamins and minerals) might be a great place to find some answers.
If you're looking to avoid supplements but still get your daily dose of magnesium, some foods might be able to help you out. Magnesium is widespread throughout many ingredients. In general, foods containing dietary fiber provide magnesium. Leafy greens, grain, and nuts are all examples of magnesium-packed items. Magnesium is also added to some breakfast cereals and other fortified foods. However, some types of food processing, such as refining grains can remove the nutrient-rich germ and bran resulting in a much lower magnesium level. Some of the most magnesium dense foods are:
- Pumpkin seeds: 1 ounce = 156 mg
- Chia seeds: 1 ounce = 111 mg
- Almonds: 1 ounce = 80 mg
Benefits of Magnesium
Well know that you know you need it and have some idea of how much you need, let’s get onto some of the specific benefits of magnesium.
1. May boost exercise performance
When you are exercising you need 10%-20% more magnesium than when you are resting. There have been multiple studies where athletes show increased performance after taking magnesium supplements. Magnesium helps to dispose of lactate (causes muscle fatigue) and supports muscle growth and endurance.
2. May fight depression
While there is limited data on this relationship, magnesium has been linked to brain function and mood. Some researchers even believe that our more processed diets containing less magnesium are partially the cause of growing depression rates. There have been multiple studies that show a benefit of magnesium is that it can boost overall mood. In one study, 450 mg of magnesium daily showed to be effective as an antidepressant.
3. Magnesium improves PMS
We’ve all probably been affected by PMS in one way or another. PMS relates to our menstrual cycle, before that special time of the month our bodies are bombarded with hormones in preparation for a potential baby. Unfortunately, the majority of the time this is something that is completely unnecessary. The effects of this fluctuation in hormones vary extremely from women to women. However, the most commonly shared symptoms are irritability, tiredness, water retention (bloating), and cramps. Interestingly aside from Midol, the go-to for period pains, magnesium has been shown to provide relief from many of these symptoms.
4. Helps fight type 2 diabetes
Studies show that about half of the people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have low levels of magnesium. Since one of magnesium's functions is to keep blood sugar levels stable there's no wonder the two are related.
5. Can lower blood pressure
There have been a few studies that looked into lowering blood pressure as one of the benefits of magnesium. While research shows this being true, the data is solely based on those with high blood pressure. Healthy individuals (those with low blood pressure) were not affected by supplemental magnesium.
6. Can help prevent migraines
If you've had a migraine you know they suck. Migraines come with a huge amount of pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and occasionally nausea and vomiting. In one study taking 1 gram of magnesium provided more relief, faster, than a common medicine.
7. Has anti-inflammatory properties
Low levels of magnesium have been linked to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a huge component of aging, obesity, and many diseases.
8. Bone health
When we think of our bones, calcium is usually one of the things that come to mind. Yet another of the benefits of magnesium is that it too is essential for healthy bone formation. Adequate magnesium intake is linked with higher bone density, improved bone crystal formation, and a lower risk of osteoporosis. Magnesium also helps to regulate calcium and vitamin D which are all vital for bone health.
9. Helps with healthy bowel movements
Yes, magnesium even helps you have a satisfying poop. Magnesium is involved in the relaxation of muscles, including those in your intestinal wall. Magnesium salts have been shown to draw water into the intestinal tract and facilitate bowel movements.
The benefits of magnesium are essential. Without it, we could not function. It is wholly possible to get the recommended amount of magnesium through your diet, but keeping a food log might be the best way to track exactly what and how much of everything you are putting into your body. If you aren't able to get enough magnesium via food consider taking supplements. Seriously, your body and brain will thank you.
Written by Kiana St. Onge