If you struggle with stress, anxiety, insomnia, or even muscle pain, then fixing your magnesium intake may be able to help you treat those conditions. While it may be considered a micronutrient, that does not make it any less important–in fact, it plays a huge role in our bodies’ metabolic processes and overall health.
What is magnesium?
Magnesium is an abundant mineral most commonly obtained from seawater, as it does not occur in nature without being combined with other elements. It helps assist more than 300 enzymes in our bodies to best perform a number of essential functions.
Not only is it important for things such as energy production and bone development, it also has a role in regulating many other crucial body functions, including muscle contraction, glycemic control and blood pressure.
How does it affect our bodies?
Though research suggests that approximately 52% of Americans do not meet the daily requirement for magnesium, less than 2% are suffering from a true magnesium deficiency. Hypomagnesemia is more prevalent in patients with type 2 diabetes, however.
Evidence indicates that magnesium deficiency has been associated with a wide variety of chronic health issues like osteoporosis, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, bronchial asthma and cardiovascular diseases. Conversely, ensuring that you are consuming enough of it can help treat symptoms of those conditions, and even prevent them from happening.
We’ve touched on how vitamin deficiencies can affect you, so it is also important to note that research has shown that vitamin D can’t be metabolized with insufficient magnesium levels.
Health benefits of magnesium
Getting enough magnesium is important to ensure your body’s optimal performance. Making sure you’re keeping up with your daily intake may be beneficial in treating:
- PMS symptoms
- Anxiety (one of the many processes linked to magnesium is our body’s stress response center!)
- Sleep conditions (it can help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer)
And more! Some symptoms of magnesium deficiency include irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue, so fixing that can improve your ability to pay attention and focus. It has also been shown to enhance exercise performance.
Optimizing magnesium absorption
The recommended daily amount is 420mg for adult men and 320mg for adult women, though most of the population (especially in Western countries) fails to reach that threshold. This is due to a combination of factors, in particular, demineralized water, as well as consuming processed foods and foods grown in magnesium-deficient soil.
But before you jump directly to supplementation, it is important to note a few things. Firstly, about 10% of the daily requirement can be met just by drinking water, but there are plenty of other naturally occurring sources such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and fortified cereals.
Secondly, while too much magnesium from foods shouldn’t be a concern for healthy adults, the same cannot be said for supplements. It is rare for most people to be truly lacking in magnesium and supplementing–especially without being advised to do so by a doctor–can end up causing more problems in the long run. Symptoms of hypermagnesemia include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, depression, and even cardiac arrest.
Different types of magnesium
There are different kinds of magnesium, so it is important to know how each of them is used. No one type is more important than the other, but they do serve different purposes. If you feel like you may benefit from magnesium supplementation, consult a doctor to figure out which of these may work best for you.
- Magnesium citrate
- Magnesium glycinate
- Magnesium lactate
- Magnesium malate
- Magnesium chloride (found in oils and bath salts)
- Magnesium sulfate (found in Epsom salts)
FOR SPECIFIC CONDITIONS
- Magnesium oxide (may be used to treat constipation or heartburn)
- Magnesium taurate (may be used to lower blood pressure)
So how do you get the maximum benefits?
As with most health-related issues, the secret lies in a balanced diet. A few magnesium-rich foods you can add to your plate include pumpkin and chia seeds, which are high up on the list, as well as almonds, peanuts, beans (black or kidney), spinach, soy-based products, edamame, brown rice, oatmeal and more.
Our bodies are complex organisms, and learning everything it needs to perform well can be overwhelming and, at times, a little boring–we get it. But we only have one, so understanding its processes is important, especially when trying to troubleshoot things that aren’t working and finding the best way to fix them.
Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash