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Magnesium: Strong Body, Healthy Mind

Magnesium plays a role in supporting so much of our bodies, from building proteins and driving muscle function to regulating blood sugar and blood pressure. ¹ The lack of the mineral is linked to a host of concerns, from minor annoyances of fatigue and muscle cramps to more serious conditions like Alzheimer's disease and type 2 diabetes. ²


To keep your body strong and your mind healthy, it's important to understand what magnesium does, how you can get enough of it, and the risks that come with getting too much magnesium.


woman meditating; magnesium: strong body, healthy mind

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential "macromineral" to the regular function of the human body. It is primarily located in the skeletal system but also is in muscle, tissue, and fluids. Why a macromineral and not a regular mineral? People need to consume much more of the seven essential macrominerals to fuel their bodies; in comparison, zinc is also incredibly important but requires a smaller amount in the body to do its job. ²


Benefits of Magnesium ³

Magnesium primarily functions as a "cofactor," meaning it helps in biochemical reactions happening in the body rather than driving them on its own. Some of the reactions it assists with include:

  • Converting food into energy

  • Regulating neurotransmitters that send messages from your brain to the rest of the body

  • Supporting muscle movements

  • Moving blood sugar around the body


Most of the magnesium in the body is located in your bones and because of its role in energy production, muscle movement, and blood sugar regulation, it may have an impact on exercise performance. Its role in the nervous system affects brain function and mood levels; getting adequate amounts of the mineral, then, may help address the symptoms of depression and anxiety.


There are strong indications that magnesium is essential to cardiovascular health. Studies have indicated that those getting higher amounts of magnesium from their diet may have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, experience enhanced insulin sensitivity, and have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and hypertension (high blood pressure).


The list goes on and on with areas of the body that magnesium supports, and conditions it may help manage. This includes:

  • Maintaining healthy levels of inflammation

  • Mitigating migraine episodes

  • Supporting bone health and density

  • Managing menstrual symptoms like cramps, bloating, and depression

  • Promoting better sleep

 

Risks of Magnesium Deficiency

Despite magnesium’s numerous benefits, many individuals do not consume enough magnesium through their diet alone. On top of not consuming enough magnesium-rich foods or supplementation, certain groups are at a higher risk of not having enough magnesium in their bodies to function properly. These groups include: ¹

  • people with gastrointestinal conditions. Certain gastrointestinal disorders, such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and gastrointestinal surgery, can impair magnesium absorption and increase excretion, leading to deficiency.

  • people with type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes may be at an increased risk of magnesium deficiency due to increased urinary excretion of magnesium associated with poorly controlled diabetes.

  • people with chronic alcoholism. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to magnesium deficiency due to poor dietary intake, increased urinary excretion, gastrointestinal issues, and impaired absorption.

  • older adults. Older adults are at a higher risk of magnesium deficiency due to reduced dietary intake, decreased absorption, and certain age-related health conditions.

  • people taking certain medications. Some medications can increase urinary excretion of magnesium and contribute to deficiency. These include bisphosphonates for treating osteoporosis, loop diuretics, proton pump inhibitors, and certain antibiotics.


Early signs of magnesium deficiency include: ¹

  • loss of appetite

  • nausea or vomiting

  • fatigue or weakness


More advanced deficiency may manifest as: ¹

  • numbness or tingling

  • muscle cramps

  • seizures

  • personality changes

  • abnormal heart function


Severe deficiency can cause low serum calcium levels or low potassium levels¹ and raise a person's risk for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. ²


How can I get magnesium?

Magnesium is found in a host of plant foods as well as in fish, poultry, and beef. Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, Swiss chard), legumes (black and kidney beans), nuts (almonds, peanuts, cashews, soybeans), seeds (pumpkin), fruits (raisins, bananas), and whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal) are all good sources of the mineral. It is also added to some breakfast cereals and other fortified foods.

 

If you are unable to obtain sufficient magnesium through your diet, taking a supplement may be an option if it is safe for you to do so. Talk to our team and your healthcare provider before starting magnesium supplements, just like all other supplements. They are generally tolerated by the body well but they can be problematic if you have certain conditions. ³


Forms of magnesium in supplements that the body generally absorbs better include magnesium citrate, glycinate, orotate, and carbonate.³ Many minerals like magnesium work better to benefit your health when taken together.² Talk to our team for our recommendations.

 

How much magnesium do I need?

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies developed intake recommendations for magnesium for both the base adequate intake and the recommended dietary allowance: ¹


Table: recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for Magnesium

A healthy body will remove excess magnesium from food through urine, so eating too much magnesium is fairly unlikely. Supplements with high amounts of magnesium can cause problems, however, including nausea, cramping, and diarrhea. At the most extreme levels, magnesium can cause problems with kidney function, blood pressure, mood, and more. It can even be fatal.² Magnesium is a primary ingredient in some laxatives as well as medicine for heartburn and indigestion,¹ so it's important to pay attention to how much supplementation you take overall.

 

Magnesium is a critical mineral that supports various aspects of health and well-being. Ensuring an adequate intake of magnesium through diet and supplementation can help individuals experience the numerous benefits that this essential mineral has to offer.

 

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