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Article: The Importance of Magnesium: Why You Need This Mineral for Your Health

The Importance of Magnesium: Why You Need This Mineral for Your Health

The Importance of Magnesium: Why You Need This Mineral for Your Health

Magnesium has to be one of the most underrated, and underappreciated minerals that is yet so absolutely essential to our health and well-being.

Not one to grab the spotlight, it works quietly in the shadows of calcium, sodium, and other big-name minerals, but it can be considered one of the most important ones nevertheless.

In this blog post, we will explore what magnesium is, its many benefits, and great ways to get this mineral.

So What Is Magnesium? 

Magnesium comes in at the fourth position in terms of abundance in the human body – after potassium, sodium, and calcium. It is essential for so many reactions in the body that it is sometimes called the “spark plug” of life!

Yes, this little spark plug can ignite so many aspects of your health, that you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't get enough of it.

Wondering what makes it so special? Let's check out its seemingly endless list of benefits and uses.

Activates ATP

Feeling low in the energy department? Magnesium can help! It is a key mineral in activating the molecule responsible for energy production and metabolism - adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

What this means is that ATP needs to couple to a magnesium molecule before it can do anything, which effectively means that magnesium represents 50% of your energy potential (and the Mg-ATP complex which is formed).

What this means too, is that to really unleash the power of supplements such as creatine and ATP, combine it with magnesium.

Magnesium also helps turn carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into usable energy that can be used by our cells. This means no more mid-afternoon slumps or feeling tired all the time!

Improves Sleep

Isn't it a funny coincidence how magnesium can amp you up and wind you down at the same time? Magnesium is known to be an effective natural sleep aid and can help you relax, calm down and get a good night's sleep.

For one, magnesium can increase melatonin secretion at night, which is essential for sleep induction and regulation of our circadian sleep cycle.

Then, there's also the fact that it can increase the action of GABA, a powerful inhibitory neurotransmitter. What this means is that taking magnesium can be an effective way to naturally increase GABA concentrations in the body, helping you relax and fall asleep with ease.

May Help Mitigate Anxiety

This actually relates a lot to its sleep-improving properties as mentioned above. GABA, the neurotransmitter mentioned earlier, plays an important role in regulating anxiety levels and magnesium can help increase its concentration in the body.

Of course, the beauty of GABA is also that it is not sedating itself per se, so daytime drowsiness isn't really a consideration you need to worry about.

Important In Biochemical Reactions 

Your body performs millions of reactions every single day, and magnesium is involved in many of these processes.

Magnesium is required for protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood pressure regulation, energy metabolism, enzyme activation and so much more. That's why sometimes small deficiencies which start off innocently enough can snowball into far-reaching effects owing to the impairment that can be caused in such a broad range of processes.

May Enhance Physical Performance  

Is magnesium an ergogenic aid? You bet your sweet cheeks!

In addition to its energy production and sleep-improving properties (both of which enhance exercise performance in their own right), magnesium can also improve your workout performance. Magnesium plays an important role in regulating muscle contractions which can make a huge difference when it comes to exercise endurance and strength training.

improved physical performance

It may even help with post-exercise recovery by helping reduce cramping and soreness - great news if you're trying to hit the gym more often but are limited by delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

Supports Blood Glucose Management 

Diabetic? Then you need more magnesium. Magnesium helps with glucose metabolism by improving insulin sensitivity and aiding in the uptake of blood sugar into cells.

The mineral can also help regulate other aspects of carbohydrate metabolism, helping to flatten the spikes or drops in blood sugar levels that could be caused by food consumption.

May Help Relieve Occasional Constipation 

We all remember good old milk of magnesia, right? Few people realize that in high single doses, magnesium functions as a laxative by drawing water into the intestines and stimulating bowel contractions.

tummy aches and constipation

In addition, magnesium can help improve nutrient absorption in the gastrointestinal tract, improving gut health and helping to remedy chronic constipation.

Potent Migraine Preventative 

Another major league benefit of magnesium, and quite likely the sleeper one to watch, is its migraine prophylactic properties. Magnesium has been shown to be effective in preventing as well as reducing the severity of migraine attacks - making it a great natural option.

Its mechanism of action is thought to involve its ability to modulate neurochemicals and block certain pain pathways involved with migraines, as well as combating vasospasm, a cause of migraine headaches.

May Reduce the Severity of PMS Symptoms 

Magnesium has been found to help reduce the severity of PMS symptoms, such as mood swings and water retention.

This is probably because magnesium works synergistically with calcium to regulate hormones like estrogen which can be a major harbinger of many PMS-related issues. In addition, its also known for reducing cramps due to its muscle-relaxing properties.

Helpful In Managing Asthmatic Symptoms

Magnesium has been found to be beneficial for those suffering from asthma thanks to its ability to improve lung function and reduce inflammation.

It also functions as a bronchodilator, which is a substance that helps to widen the airways and thus improves airflow and delivery.

deep breathing

Magnesium is often given intravenously or via a nebulizer in a hospital setting when dealing with acute asthmatic exacerbations.

Necessary For Bone Strength 

Besides calcium, do you know what other minerals are involved in maintaining healthy bones? Magnesium!

Magnesium helps the body to produce and use insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a protein that promotes the production of bone, boosts calcium absorption in the gut and helps to reduce inflammation - all of which can contribute to better bone health.

Magnesium may also help to decrease the risk of osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases as you age, making it very important for post-menopausal women.

Assists With Kidney Stone Management

Magnesium does not "cure" kidney stones. However, that's not to say that it isn't still quite helpful.

In fact, its been shown to help reduce the risk of stone formation by increasing urine volume, decreasing calcium excretion, and also helping to reduce oxalate levels.

It's even thought that magnesium supplementation may help promote the dissolution of existing stones. All of these effects make magnesium a great adjuvant for those prone to kidney stones.

Good For The Heart

Cardiovascular health and well-being comprise several different components, many of which benefit from magnesium intake.

cardiovascular health

It helps to reduce blood pressure by allowing your arteries and veins to relax and expand. It also helps promote healthy cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, and even helps regulate heart rhythm. All these effects add up to better long-term cardiovascular health outcomes. 

Supports Brain Health

We briefly mentioned how magnesium helps prevent migraines, or at least decrease their frequency, and also its effect on promoting sleep and mental calmness.

But in addition to all this, magnesium is also necessary for the normal day-to-day functioning of a healthy brain and performing neuronal housekeeping.

Receptors are prone to becoming desensitized or refractive to the actions of specific hormones or neurotransmitters.

The adenosine receptor in the brain is a good example of this, as the blocking effect of caffeine on it weans rapidly in as little as a week.

Magnesium helps support the restoration of these receptors so that once the external stimuli is removed, they can quickly resume normal function.

Best Sources Of Magnesium 

You're probably wondering where you can get magnesium from and the answer is actually quite simple - many foods!

Eating a balanced and varied diet will help ensure that you have adequate levels of magnesium.

Some great sources include:

  • leafy greens
  • dark chocolate
  • legumes
  • bananas
  • deep water, fatty fish

How Much Magnesium Should You Take per Day? 

The recommended daily intake of magnesium depends on your age, gender, and activity level. Generally speaking the daily recommended intake for adult women is 320mg/day and for adult men, it is 420mg/day.

It's important to get an adequate amount of magnesium through diet as well as supplementing if necessary, however, it's important not to overdo it as too much can lead to unpleasant side effects such as nausea and diarrhea.

Most supplemental forms of magnesium contain 500mg, and depending on the exact form eg., magnesium oxide as compared to magnesium glycinate, for instance, the absorption can drastically vary.

Are There Any Side Effects of Taking Magnesium Supplements? 

Magnesium is generally well tolerated and side effects are rare when taken in appropriate amounts. However, mild side effects may occur such as nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal cramping when high doses are taken.

Additionally, magnesium supplements can interfere with the absorption of certain medications and may adversely affect medical conditions so it is important to consult with your doctor prior to starting a supplement regimen.

It's also important to note that when taking magnesium supplements orally the body has trouble absorbing more than 20-30%, therefore looking for forms such as magnesium glycinate which have superior absorption may be a good idea.

The Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

A magnesium deficiency can creep up on you slowly over time, and at first, look like nothing at all.

You just sense that "something is wrong", or you're not quite yourself, as physical and mental performance may feel generally lackluster and less than optimal.

That in the true sense is how tricky it can be to know that a magnesium deficiency is brewing.

More visible, and sometimes alarming symptoms may manifest in the form of fatigue, muscle cramps or spasms, anxiety, unexplained irritability, and insomnia.

More notable magnesium deficiency can also cause poor appetite, nausea, and vomiting.

And in the most severe cases, it can even lead to cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) as well as other cardiovascular issues.

Final Words

Next time you hear friends talking about that fancy calcium supplement they just purchased and are currently taking, quietly smirk to yourself.

Or, whip out this blog post that you have bookmarked and preach the gospel of magnesium to them.

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