Magnesium is an important electrolyte that plays an active role in everything from regulating blood sugar levels to DNA replication in the body. Unfortunately, thanks to intensive farming practices, modern diets and a variety of other factors, there’s a chance you’re not getting enough of this magnificent mineral in your diet and may not even know about it.
While people who are otherwise healthy may not even be aware of a magnesium deficiency in the body, symptoms at their most severe can range from fatigue and nausea to cardiovascular problems and even sudden death.
Read on to learn more about magnesium, how it works and why getting the right amount could change your life.
What is magnesium?
Magnesium is the eighth-most common element in the entire universe and makes up 2% of the earth’s core. Every form of life that has ever walked the planet has relied on minerals found in the earth to stay healthy, and humans are no different. That’s why this mineral is the fourth most common one in the human body and plays an integral role in its function.
How does it work?
Biochemical reactions are the conversion of one molecule to another in the body, giving us energy, creating the building blocks for new structures like DNA and bones, and regulating normal day-to-day bodily functions, including blood sugar and blood pressure.
These reactions are only possible with the help of enzymes, a type of protein that builds substances, breaks them down and speeds up the process. Magnesium is a cofactor in 300 different enzymes in the body, which means it helps them to do their job properly.
Around 60% of magnesium in the body is stored in the bones, which reduces the risk of fractures and the chance of osteoporosis. Additionally, magnesium regulates potassium and calcium in the body to keep our heartbeat regular and help prevent cardiovascular diseases. Due to these important roles, even a slight deficiency can have a knock-on effect throughout the body.
From increasing the quality of sleep to recovery after exercise, people who prioritize getting enough magnesium will be amazed at the range of benefits.
Magnesium works with GABA transmitters, which slow down the brain and help calm the human body and increase melatonin, which is released by the body to help us sleep. While no clinical trial has been performed on the subject, observational studies have revealed an association between magnesium status and sleep quality.
From helping enzymes in saliva to working as a cofactor in our intestines, magnesium plays a role from the start of digestion to the end. People with magnesium deficiency may find their bowels become slow-moving, which can contribute to depressive-like behavior.
Magnesium is a master of recovery. It works with the body to relax muscles by blocking calcium absorption and helps to keep muscle contraction regulated. Studies have shown that just one week of magnesium supplementation can lower muscle soreness and increase post-exercise blood glucose.
Playing an essential role in nerve transmission and protecting against cells dying prematurely, magnesium helps prevent many diseases. Low levels of magnesium are common in people suffering from Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and migraines.
Microminerals like copper and zinc are required in tiny amounts in the human diet, whereas macro-minerals like magnesium must be consumed in large amounts to make sure the body has enough to function properly. One way of ingesting enough of this vital mineral is through magnesium-rich foods.
- Pumpkin and chia seeds: It’ll come as no surprise to fans of superfoods that these two top the list. Containing 156 mg and 111 mg per ounce respectively, these nutrition-dense additions to smoothies, bowls and more pack a serious magnesium punch, along with loads of other benefits.
- Spinach: Popeye isn’t the only one who gets a kick out of spinach. Half a cup of this leafy green vegetable contains 78 mg of magnesium and makes a great addition to your morning omelet.
- Peanut butter: Just two tablespoons of this favorite creamy spread will deliver 49 mg of magnesium.
- Black beans: Taco lovers will be pleased to find out that their favorite bean contains 60 mg of magnesium.
To sum it up
Magnesium has to go down as one of the most underrated minerals in the human body. While calcium gets the headlines when it comes to bone health, magnesium also plays a big role in keeping them strong, but that’s not all, not by a long shot.
This marvelous mineral draws water into the intestines and keeps our digestive process going, helps us recover after exercising and even fights diseases like Alzheimer's, diabetes and more. While we may not notice if we have a magnesium deficiency, our body will certainly pay attention when we increase our magnesium intake.
What happens if you take magnesium every day?
From boosting our nervous system to helping us get a good night’s sleep, adding magnesium to our daily diet can improve our health in a variety of ways.
How can you tell if your body needs more magnesium?
Healthy people may not have any tell-tale signs that magnesium is lacking in their diet.Those suffering from other health complications like diabetes can experience symptoms that range from fatigue and nausea to cardiovascular problems and even sudden death.
How much magnesium should you take per day?
On average, females should aim to ingest 320 mg per day of magnesium per day and males should consume 400 mg.