There should be plenty of magnesium to go around for everybody, considering that it is one of the 10 most abundant elements in the earth’s crust and is the fourth-most-prevalent mineral in the human body. Yet many people suffer from a magnesium deficiency, even if they aren’t aware of it at first. Magnesium also happens to be one of seven essential macro minerals in your body.
A magnesium deficiency can leave people susceptible to a number of magnesium-deficiency symptoms that can include insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, and osteoporosis, per medicalnewstoday.com, while also leading to low calcium or low potassium levels in your bloodstream.
What Does Magnesium Do for Us?
Let us count the ways: magnesium is involved in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in your body, among them the metabolism of food, fatty acids and proteins synthesis, and the transmission of nerve impulses. A little more than half of all the magnesium in your body (25 grams total, or 0.8 ounces) is stored in the skeletal system. The rest is spread among your muscles, soft tissues, and bodily fluids, per medicalnewstoday.com. Magnesium keeps your heart beating steadily and your immune system strong, per health.harvard.edu.
In return, all you have to do is keep your body properly supplied with magnesium; you can do this consistently by eating a diet rich in magnesium. Suggested such foods include green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fish as a great start, as are meats, legumes, and many fruits, per livescience.com. Nutritional supplements can also help fill in gaps.
Your kidney also offers a big boost. “The kidney has an extraordinary ability to reduce magnesium loss in urine, and thus achieve magnesium balance on a wide variety of intakes,” says Dr. Bruce Bistran, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, quoted at health.harvard.edu.
Not only can you find magnesium in, essentially, every part of your body, it also has a history in medical treatment – a significantly long history at that. Although magnesium was first identified as an element (on the Periodic Table) in 1755 by physician Joseph Black, treatment professionals had already been recommending “magnesia alba,” also known as magnesium carbonate, for people with an upset stomach, per livescience.com. In fact, magnesium is still a key ingredient used in antacids and laxatives today. Milk of magnesia, anyone?
Magnesium’s Key Health Benefits
Magnesium has the potential to provide many health benefits for humans. Here are eight of them, offered with the understanding that you will discuss any medicinal use of magnesium with your physician before you target magnesium intake for any particular health reason:
- Enhance exercise performance. Most types of exercise can require 10-20 percent more magnesium than when you are at rest. By keeping your magnesium levels at a healthy level, the micromineral can help transport blood sugar into your muscles and expel pain-causing lactate that has accumulated during sustained physical exertion, per healthline.com.
- Bone health. Magnesium assists in bone’s absorption of calcium while also helping to activate vitamin D in kidneys. Vitamin D is also required for bone health, per medicalnewstoday.com.
- Migraine headaches. Limited studies, per medicalnewstoday.com, have proposed that magnesium therapy can prevent or relieve headaches. Take note, though; it might take a higher amount than usually recommended, in which case it should be administered by a health professional.
- Fend off depression. Magnesium plays a vital role in regulating brain function and mood, with low levels associated with risk of depression, per healthline.com.
- Anti-inflammatory. Insufficient intake of magnesium has been associated with chronic inflammation, which in turn can lead to obesity, premature aging, and chronic diseases.
- Type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that about half of all people with type 2 diabetes suffer from insufficient levels of magnesium in their blood, a condition that can inhibit insulin’s ability to properly regulate blood sugar levels, per healthline.com.
- Reduce blood pressure. This is a benefit potentially accorded anyone with hypertension (high blood pressure). Sufficient magnesium intake is also key for maintaining a reduced risk of atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty material along artery walls.
- Improve PMS Symptoms. This is consistent with magnesium’s ability to improve mood, decrease water retention, and alleviate other PMS-related symptoms such as cramps and tiredness.