Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in our body and is considered an essential mineral in regulating muscle contractions, blood pressure, insulin balance, nerve conduction, and neuromuscular signal transmission.
Low levels of magnesium are more common than having higher levels. In fact, research shows that 75% of Americans are low in magnesium.
Lifestyle factors, medications, and low mineral density in our current fruits and vegetables are all raising concerns for the overall health of Americans. Low levels of magnesium have been associated with a number of chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, insulin resistance/type-2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases such as strokes, hyperlipidemia, migraine headaches, severe asthma, and even attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Plus, magnesium has been studied as a healing aid to relieve menstrual cramps, constipation, indigestion, and more.
Magnesium’s versatility makes it the perfect mineral for managing a number of different health complications. Here are just 9 ways that adding a little more magnesium to your diet can be beneficial for your long-term well-being.
1. Magnesium can provide migraine relief
According to the American Migraine Foundation, magnesium acts as one of the best solutions for preventing and treating migraines. Patients who experience auras with their migraines could benefit the most from additional magnesium intake.
Supplementary oral magnesium tablets have also been shown to reduce premenstrual or menstrual migraines in women.
Because magnesium levels are difficult to accurately measure, it can be hard to assess if or when the brain contains low levels. However, it is thought that people who are more prone to migraines may have lower levels of brain magnesium due to decreased absorption from food, genetic predisposition, or greater excretion in comparison to those who remain largely unaffected. Some studies also predict that frequent migraine sufferers could have lower levels of brain and spinal fluid magnesium.
2. Magnesium can relieve PMS symptoms, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, water retention, and breast tenderness.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects millions of women around the world and it is estimated that 75% of women experience PMS symptoms. Within this group, 20 percent experience symptoms severe enough to require medical treatment.
The Nutritional Magnesium Association claims that daily magnesium supplementation can reduce severe symptoms associated with PMS, such as mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, bloating, fluid retention, breast tenderness, sugar cravings, headaches, and poor sleep.
3. Magnesium for your metabolism
Magnesium plays a key role in processes that produce more energy for the body. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that it is essential for maintaining a healthy metabolic function.
Taking magnesium can aid in maintaining a healthy body weight and weight loss in a few different ways. It can reduce stress and help you get better sleep, which are both factors that can contribute to losing weight and keeping it off.
In addition, magnesium can help with muscle contraction, which can lead to enhanced performance during your workouts. Plus, it’s a great post-workout recovery tool as magnesium has been proven to reduce inflammation and muscle soreness. If you make it habit to regularly include it in your diet, you’ll feel better and be able to get back to the gym faster.
4. Magnesium can help you sleep better
As is true of many things, better sleep begins from within. To get more restful shut-eye, it can be helpful to try and meet recommended levels of daily magnesium glycinate intake. For the average adult, this correlates to taking in between 300 and 420 milligrams of magnesium every day.
While health experts do not yet know the full benefit of taking a magnesium glycinate supplement for better sleep regulation, they do know that a lack of magnesium is detrimental to catching enough z’s as low levels are closely linked to poor sleep quality and insomnia.
5. Magnesium for bowel regularity
If you are seeking more regularity in your bowel movements, magnesium citrate could be your solution.
It has proven to be most potent when taken on an empty stomach about 1-2 hours after finishing a meal. Once consumed, it should take between 30 minutes and 6 hours for this natural laxative to work its magic!
6. Magnesium for heart health
Studies show that a low intake of magnesium can often lead to a deficiency that increases the risk for cardiovascular events and death.
Because it contributes to proper cellular membrane and mitochondria function, it also works to ensure that the body’s anti oxidative pathways function correctly. When a deficiency is present, it can manifest as a cardiovascular problem like hypertension, cardiomyopathy, cardiac arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, dyslipidaemia, or diabetes. More conclusive research is necessary to determine the full effects of magnesium in managing symptoms associated with cardiac conditions.
7. Magnesium for bone strength
As we age, it’s important to continue to build bone mineral density in order to reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. This is where magnesium comes in. It was found that people with higher intakes of magnesium have a higher bone mineral density.
Older women, in particular, could benefit from adding more magnesium-rich foods or supplements to their diet to experience better bone health. This is because estrogen levels decline with age, and estrogen also contributes to bone density.
8. Magnesium can help balance mood and reduce anxiety & depression
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 3.1% of Americans—or 6.8 million people—suffer from generalized anxiety disorder every year.
Although research is limited, certain people have found relief for mood disorders by taking magnesium supplements. In clinical trials, magnesium chloride led to a significant reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms over the course of 6 weeks.
9. Magnesium can improve insulin function in type 2 diabetes
Recent studies have examined the impact that magnesium deficiency has on insulin resistance and the possibility of developing type 2 diabetes as an adult. The evidence suggests that if there is a magnesium deficiency and insulin resistance in childhood, it may beneficial for children to increase the number of magnesium rich foods they include in their diet or begin taking a magnesium supplement to boost levels across the body.
Since people who experience a lot of insulin resistance often excrete excess magnesium through urine, finding additional ways to replenish lost minerals is ideal. Though more research is needed to determine which type of magnesium is most beneficial for those managing blood glucose levels, many supplements are available to meet specific health needs.
Foods that contain magnesium Magnesium is primarily found in leafy green vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. It can also be found in fish, poultry, and beef. Popular sources of additional magnesium include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Cooked spinach
- Brown rice
How to find the right magnesium supplement
Because magnesium plays an important role in so many bodily functions, it is vital to be able to identify the right magnesium supplement for your needs.
Magnesium comes in a variety of forms, such as magnesium glycinate, magnesium citrate, magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, magnesium oxide, and magnesium malate. Each of these forms have a different absorption rate and use case, so it is best to consult with a naturopathic doctor to decide which option could help you best address your biggest health concerns.
Receiving magnesium in the form of IV nutrient therapy or vitamin injections
If you do not wish to regularly take a magnesium supplement, other options are available such as IV nutrient therapy or vitamin injections, Both deliver optimal levels of magnesium directly into your bloodstream for maximum absorption.
Before you make any decision regarding a supplementary form of magnesium intake, make an appointment to speak with a naturopathic doctor to determine which type of magnesium would best suit your health needs.
To get started, contact the Spark Health team of naturopathic doctors to schedule an appointment and learn more. Located in Solana Beach in San Diego County, CA, Spark Health Integrative Medicine examines your health using a wider lens, Our team of practitioners take an all-encompassing approach to your heath to reconstruct and restore your body from the inside out.
Article written by Dr. Barbara Ivos, ND