Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body.
It plays several important roles in the health of your body and your brain.
However, you may not be getting enough of it, even if you have a healthy diet.
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Here are 10 evidence-based health benefits of magnesium.
1. Magnesium is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in your body
Magnesium is a mineral found in land, sea, plants, animals and humans.
About 60% of the magnesium in your body is found in bones, while the rest is found in muscle, soft tissue, and fluids, including blood .
In fact, every cell in your body contains it and needs it to function.
One of the main roles of magnesium is to act as a cofactor or auxiliary molecule in the biochemical reactions continually carried out by enzymes.
In fact, it's involved in over 600 reactions in your body, including :
- The creation of energy: Helps convert food into energy.
- The formation of proteins: Helps create new proteins from amino acids.
- Gene maintenance: Helps create and repair DNA and RNA.
- Muscle movements: Part of muscle contraction and relaxation.
- Regulation of the nervous system: helps regulate neurotransmitters, which send messages throughout your brain and nervous system.
Unfortunately, studies suggest that around 50% of people in Europe consume less than the recommended daily amount of magnesium .
2. Magnesium can increase physical performance
Magnesium also plays a role in physical performance .
During exercise , you may need 10-20% more magnesium than at rest, depending on the activity .
Magnesium helps move blood sugar into your muscles and break down lactate, which can build up during exercise and cause fatigue .
Studies have shown that magnesium supplementation can improve physical performance in athletes, the elderly, and people with chronic conditions .
In one study, volleyball players who took 250 mg of magnesium daily experienced improvements in jumping and arm movement .
In another study, athletes who took magnesium supplements for four weeks had faster running, cycling and swimming times during a triathlon. They also experienced reductions in insulin and stress hormone levels .
3. Magnesium fights depression
Magnesium plays a vital role in brain function and mood , and low levels are linked to an increased risk of depression.
An analysis of more than 8,800 people found that people under 65 with the lowest magnesium intake had a 22% higher risk of depression.
Some experts believe that the low magnesium content of modern foods can cause many cases of depression and mental illness.
However, others emphasize the need for further research in this area.
Nevertheless, magnesium supplementation can help reduce symptoms of depression - and in some cases, the results can be dramatic.
In a randomized controlled trial in depressed elderly people, 450 mg of magnesium daily improved mood as effectively as antidepressant medication .
4. Magnesium has benefits against type 2 diabetes
Magnesium also benefits people with type 2 diabetes.
Studies suggest that about 48% of people with type 2 diabetes have low levels of magnesium in their blood. This can impair insulin's ability to control blood sugar.
Additionally, research indicates that people with low magnesium intake have a higher risk of developing diabetes.
A study that followed more than 4,000 people for 20 years found that people with the highest magnesium intake were 47% less likely to develop diabetes.
Another study showed that people with type 2 diabetes taking high doses of magnesium every day experienced significant improvements in blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c levels, compared to a control group.
However, these effects may depend on how much magnesium you get from food. In another study, the supplements did not improve blood sugar or insulin levels in people who were not deficient.
5. Magnesium can lower blood pressure
Studies show that taking magnesium can lower blood pressure.
In one study, people who took 450 mg per day experienced a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure .
However, these benefits may only occur in people with high blood pressure.
Another study found that magnesium lowered blood pressure in people with high blood pressure, but had no effect in those with normal levels .
6. Magnesium Has Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Low magnesium intake is linked to chronic inflammation, which is one of the drivers of aging, obesity, and chronic disease.
In one study, children with the lowest blood magnesium levels were found to have the highest levels of the inflammatory marker CRP.
They also had higher levels of blood sugar, insulin and triglycerides .
Magnesium supplements may reduce CRP and other markers of inflammation in older adults, overweight people, and people with prediabetes .
Similarly, foods high in magnesium, such as fatty fish and dark chocolate, can reduce inflammation .
7. Magnesium Helps Prevent Migraines
Migraines are painful and disabling. Nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound often occur.
Some researchers believe that people with migraines are more likely than others to be deficient in magnesium .
In fact, a few encouraging studies suggest that magnesium can prevent and even help treat migraines .
In one study, supplementation with 1 gram of magnesium relieved an acute migraine attack faster and more effectively than common medication .
In addition, foods rich in magnesium can help reduce migraine symptoms .
8. Magnesium Reduces Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is one of the main causes of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
It is characterized by impaired ability of muscle and liver cells to properly absorb sugar from your bloodstream.
Magnesium plays a crucial role in this process, and many people with metabolic syndrome are deficient .
Additionally, the high insulin levels that accompany insulin resistance cause magnesium to be lost through urine, further reducing your body's levels .
Fortunately, increasing your magnesium intake can help .
One study found that magnesium supplementation reduced insulin resistance and blood sugar , even in people with normal blood levels .
9. Magnesium Improves PMS Symptoms
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is one of the most common disorders in women of childbearing age.
Its symptoms include water retention , abdominal cramps, fatigue and irritability.
Interestingly, magnesium has been shown to improve mood , reduce fluid retention, and other symptoms in women with PMS .
10. Magnesium is safe and widely available
Magnesium is absolutely essential for good health . The recommended daily intake is 400-420 mg per day for men and 310-320 mg per day for women.
You can get it from both foods and supplements.
The following foods are good to excellent sources of magnesium :
- Pumpkin seeds: 46% of the RDI in a quarter cup (16 grams)
- Boiled spinach: 39% of the RDI in a cup (180 grams)
- Swiss chard, boiled: 38% of the RDI in a cup (175 grams)
- Dark chocolate (70-85% cocoa): 33% of the RDI per 100 grams
- Black beans: 30% of the RDI in a cup (172 grams)
- Quinoa, cooked: 33% of the RDI in a cup (185 grams)
- Halibut: 27% of the RDI per 100 grams
- Almonds: 25% of the RDI in a quarter cup (24 grams)
- Cashew nuts: 25% of the RDI in a quarter cup (30 grams)
- Mackerel : 19% of the RDI per 100 grams
- The lawyer: 15% of the RDI in a medium avocado (200 grams)
- The salmon : 9% of the RDI per 100 grams
If you have a medical condition, consult your doctor before taking magnesium supplements.
Although generally well tolerated, they may not be safe for people taking certain diuretics, heart medications, or antibiotics.
Supplement forms that are well absorbed include magnesium citrate, glycinate, orotate, and carbonate.
Getting enough magnesium is essential for maintaining good health.
Be sure to eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods or take a supplement if you are unable to get enough from your diet alone.
Without enough of this important mineral, your body cannot function optimally.