Last Updated June 6th, 2021
Why does our body require minerals?
Minerals are vital for the growth and metabolic functions such as hormone production, nerve functions, for skin, bone, hair, teeth, etc. Some minerals are needed in large amounts and some are needed in small amounts. The macrominerals include sulfur, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, chloride and sodium. Magnesium and potassium deficiency rates are high in Americans. A magnesium deficit is associated with a decline in cognitive functions (understanding, learning, reasoning, and memory). Unearth the health benefits of magnesium, the impact of a magnesium deficit on your body and more about magnesium supplements below.
What is magnesium?
Magnesium is one of the seven essential macrominerals in the body that aids in more than 600 reactions in your body. The symbol of magnesium is Mg. An adult male must consume 400 to 420 milligrams and an adult woman must consume 310 to 320 milligrams of magnesium on a daily basis.
What kind of reactions does magnesium aid in my body?
- Approximately, 60% of the magnesium in the body is in the bone and the remaining is present in the muscles, soft tissues, and fluids, including blood.
- Every cell in the body contains magnesium. It is vital for energy production.
- You can also call magnesium as “helper molecule” (cofactor) to assist in the biochemical reactions performed by enzymes.
- Magnesium helps in the process of converting the ingredients of the food into energy.
- It assists in protein synthesis via the amino acids.
- It aids in the formation and repair of DNA.
- It is vital for muscle contraction and relaxation.
- Magnesium assists in the control of the neurotransmitters.
Fun facts on Magnesium
- Magnesium malate binds to toxic metals like aluminum. It excretes this toxic metal out of the body via means such as urination, etc.
- Magnesium malate also facilitates saliva production. This helps in curtailing oral bacteria.
- Epsom salts are actually magnesium salts. They are absorbed directly into the body. These salts are used as bath salts. In this way, you can de-stress your body and mind.
- There are commercial drinks or juices available with the catchy phrase “anti-stress” or “calm your mind” drinks. These juices are fortified with dietary supplements of magnesium.
What kind of benefits can I draw from magnesium?
Role of magnesium in bone health?
Bone formation utilizes magnesium. It combines with calcium and activates vitamin D (which is also needed for healthy bones). Magnesium promotes greater bone density, improved bone crystal formation, and reduces the risk of osteoporosis in women after menopause.
How does it help in the absorption of calcium?
Without magnesium, a high intake of calcium can increase the risk of arterial calcification (hardening of the arteries due to calcium build up in the blood). Excessive calcium accumulation in this manner can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as kidney stones. Calcium is prevented from entering into your blood by enabling its absorption into your bones. A person on calcium supplements must also consume magnesium to ensure that the calcium is properly metabolized.
Role of magnesium in diabetes control
Magnesium is said to control high blood sugar levels. It plays a vital role in carbohydrate and glucose metabolism. It lowers the risk of diabetes. High blood glucose levels lead to increased excretion of magnesium via the urine. Researches also convey that every 100 mg per day increase in magnesium intake (till a certain level is reached) lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by approximately 15%.
Improper insulin production and diminished insulin resistance are associated with low magnesium levels. Studies show an enhancement in the insulin sensitivity upon magnesium supplement intake of 300 – 365 mg per day. More studies are needed.
Magnesium and heart health
Magnesium is influential in maintaining the health of muscles, including the heart, and also for the transmission of electrical signals in the body.
An optimal magnesium intake lowers the risk of:
- Atherosclerosis (a fatty build upon the walls of arteries)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
An artery is a tubular structure that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body. A study was done on people with a high intake of magnesium. A 58% reduced chance of coronary artery calcification (thickening or narrowing of the arterial walls due to high calcium levels in the blood) was seen in those who had good magnesium levels in their body. The calcification reduced by 34%.
Studies also show that a daily intake of 365 mg of magnesium per day enhances the lipid profiles. If a patient has had a heart attack, the death risk is minimized upon immediate supplementation of magnesium. In fact, sometimes magnesium is utilized as part of the treatment for congestive heart failure (CHF). It is also used to reduce the risk of arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm).
Magnesium and its role in nerve functioning
The role of magnesium and calcium go hand in hand in terms of nerve signal communication. Magnesium tends to calm the functioning of the excitatory nerves and thus acts as a depressant.
Magnesium: Other health benefits
Magnesium is very useful in controlling irregular body movements in pregnant women, epileptic seizures (when the nerve impulse conduction goes beyond normal). If magnesium levels are below normal, the nerves will be unable to control vital functions like muscle contraction/relaxation, respiration, and mental processes.
Twitching, irregular heartbeat, irritability, and nervous fatigue are indicative of low magnesium levels. At the cellular level, without proper magnesium amounts, the cell is unable to maintain the energy amount to aid in the cellular processes. Studies also show that higher the magnesium level, lower is the risk of stroke. Magnesium is also very useful to treat migraines. The nerve relaxing property of magnesium is very useful to treat menstrual cramps. Magnesium helps in reducing premenstrual symptoms such as bloating, insomnia (sleeplessness), leg swelling, weight gain, and breast tenderness.
If you are deficient in magnesium, your body will crave for sugar. Eating sugary foods makes you want to eat them more. The sugar molecules block the entry of magnesium into the cell. You can curb your cravings with magnesium-rich foods or supplements.
Hormonal imbalance can cause acne. Magnesium is also used in lotions and skin care creams. It helps in rectifying the hormonal imbalance. Magnesium induces skin repair and enhances the function of the protein (collagen) in the skin thereby helping the skin to retain its moisture and elasticity. Stress is a major cause of skin problems. Magnesium is known for its de-stressing properties.
What are the food sources of magnesium?
You can consume dietary sources such as wheat germ, cocoa, desiccated liver, eggs, green vegetables, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, salmons, spinach, tofu, dark chocolate, avocados, bananas, and almonds.
The recommended dietary allowances (RDA) of magnesium are as follows:
- Adult males: 400 – 420 mg
- Adult females: 310 – 320 mg
- Pregnant females: 350 – 360 mg daily
- Breastfeeding females: 310 – 320 mg
- Infants from birth to 6 months: 30 mg
- Babies of 7 – 12 months: 75 mg
- Kids of 1 – 3 years old: 80 mg; 4 – 8 years old: 130 mg; 9 – 13 years of age: 240 mg
- 14 – 18 years old adolescent children: 410 mg (male) and 360 mg (female)
Magnesium supplements are available in the form of:
- Liquid forms (intravenous injections and as a shot)
- Transdermal patches – Supplementation of magnesium through the skin in a transdermal form is a noteworthy approach. Magnesium, in this case, bypasses the gastrointestinal tract and reaches the target site. The bioavailability of magnesium in this form is much better than oral supplements.
- Chelated magnesium supplements are those where magnesium is combined with amino acids (building blocks of proteins). When compared to other magnesium supplements, the chelated ones are easily absorbed into the body.
- Magnesium L-threonate – Assists in the cognitive function (memory, knowledge, understanding, and problem solving).
- Magnesium malate – Helps in energy production.
- Magnesium taurate – Enables calmness and heart health.
- Magnesium glycinate – Supports relaxation.
- Magnesium orotate – Useful for heart health.
- Magnesium aspartate – Aids in energy production and fights fatigue.
- Magnesium citrate – Commonly used to relieve constipation.
Magnesium supplements must be taken under the supervision of a doctor. A dosage of 350 mg is safe for most adults. Intake of excess magnesium can result in irregular heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
Magnesium oxide (MgO) as a supplement
- Magnesium oxide is an inorganic compound. It functions as an osmotic laxative in the form of magnesium citrate.
- It can be consumed as an antacid.
- Magnesium oxide contains the highest amount of elemental magnesium (about 60%) in contrast to magnesium citrate (around 16%). This does not mean that magnesium oxide can be absorbed more effectively into the body.
Magnesium citrate versus magnesium oxide
- In fact, magnesium oxide is poorly absorbed by the body and is not soluble. Approximately 4% of the elemental magnesium gets absorbed from a 400 mg tablet or a pill.
- Magnesium citrate has a bioavailability of 25 – 30%. This is also why magnesium citrate is the most common type of magnesium supplementation or the recommended choice to fulfill the requirements of most issues and deficiencies.
- Both magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide can be used as an osmotic laxative.
Magnesium rich foods
Some of the magnesium-rich foods are as follows:
- Dark chocolate
- Nuts – almonds, cashews, etc.
- Legumes –beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, etc.
- Seeds – flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
Magnesium is a vital mineral present in food sources such as bananas, nuts, etc. An average intake of magnesium must be 350 mg per day. You can rely on food sources like salmon, soy milk, etc. Supplements of magnesium must be consumed with the consultation of your doctor. Over intake of supplements will lead to a coma. Magnesium intake helps in many ways such as muscle recovery, amelioration of the bone strength, skin repair, etc. Magnesium salts are used as bath salts in spa treatments.
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