Magnesium is a tiny-but-mighty powerhouse of a nutrient. In every single cell in your body, this mineral is quietly working behind the scenes, assisting your enzymes in a ton of important chemical reactions that keep everything running smoothly.
So, if you aren’t getting enough of it in your diet, a magnesium deficiency can manifest itself in some pretty serious ways. Unfortunately, almost half of us aren’t getting enough of it! Here’s everything you need to know about magnesium benefits and why you might want to consider taking a magnesium supplement to meet your needs.
What does magnesium do for the body?
Your body uses magnesium in over 300 different biochemical reactions. Some of those essential reactions include keeping your heart beating strong and steady, maintaining healthy bones, converting food to energy, building proteins – in short, most of the reactions going on in your body every day that keep you healthy and alive! The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 400-420 mg daily for men and 310-320 mg for women.
Health benefits of magnesium
Because magnesium is crucial to so many biochemical reactions in your body, it’s been linked to a variety of health benefits, including:
Better sleep: Magnesium supplements are popular among people who struggle with tossing and turning at night. While scientists are still studying the exact relationship between magnesium and sleep, studies have shown that subjects who suffered from insomnia and took a magnesium supplement showed improvements in sleep quality, sleep time, and insomnia severity!
Maintaining bone health: Roughly 50-60% of the magnesium in your body can be found in your bones, so it plays a big part in maintaining your bone structure and staving off bone diseases like osteoporosis.
Heart health support: Having a higher magnesium intake can support your heart health in a couple of ways. It relaxes your blood vessels to regulate blood pressure, maintains a regular heartbeat, and helps you to manage inflammation and stress, which have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease when chronic.
Regulates blood sugar: Magnesium is also important for helping your body manage its blood sugar levels. There are even studies that show that people with better magnesium intake are at less risk of developing Type 2 diabetes!
Signs you aren’t getting enough magnesium
Because magnesium is a crucial component of so many different chemical reactions in your body, an insufficiency in your diet can have serious consequences down the line. Some signs that you are not getting sufficient magnesium on a regular basis include:
1. Irregular heartbeat
Magnesium helps transport electrolytes like potassium and calcium into your cells, and these electrolytes then trigger the relaxation and contraction of your heart muscle (this is your heartbeat!). So, a magnesium deficiency can lead to an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. Some forms of arrhythmia are relatively harmless, but others can be highly dangerous since they can interfere with your blood flow and the transport of oxygen and other nutrients throughout your body.
2. High blood pressure
In addition to helping your heart beat normally, magnesium also helps your blood vessels relax, which could help keep your blood pressure under control if you suffer from hypertension. While scientists are still trying to determine the exact relationship between magnesium and high blood pressure, a meta-analysis of 34 studies found that magnesium supplementation was effective at reducing blood pressure.
3. Muscle weakness, cramping, and pain
Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer. In addition to your heart muscle, magnesium also assists in the relaxation of your skeletal muscles. It essentially works in opposition to calcium, a mineral that causes muscles to contract. Unfortunately, this means that an imbalance of magnesium to calcium could also lead to muscle cramping and pain. In addition, a serious magnesium deficiency could also manifest as muscle weakness and fatigue.
4. Mood disorders
A magnesium insufficiency can also play a role in your mental health as well as your physical health since it can influence your brain chemicals and your body’s stress response. In fact, studies indicate that people who aren’t don’t have an adequate amount of magnesium in their bodies are at an increased risk of developing depression and other mental disorders like anxiety.
These signs could all be indicators of magnesium insufficiency, but it’s also important to understand the difference between insufficiency and a deficiency. While it’s estimated that less than half of Americans are meeting their recommended daily intake for magnesium, a true deficiency is still relatively rare.
Signs of a magnesium deficiency include numbness, tingling, seizures, hyperexcitability, coronary spasms, personality changes, and muscle contractions. If left unchecked, magnesium deficiencies can lead to low levels of calcium and/or potassium, which can be dangerous. If you find that you’re experiencing these signs of a magnesium deficiency, check in with your doctor.
Should I start taking magnesium supplements?
Magnesium is found in many healthy foods like whole grains, leafy greens, seeds, nuts, and select tap/bottled waters. Unfortunately, about half of the American population still struggles to get enough magnesium to meet their needs.
Certain conditions can also make you more susceptible to a magnesium deficiency. For example, eating a diet high in Vitamin D or calcium can interfere with magnesium absorption. Similarly, people with gastrointestinal disorders, Type 2 diabetes, chronic alcoholism, or older people may not be properly absorbing all the magnesium they eat.
Taking a high-quality magnesium supplement can help boost your magnesium intake, helping you bridge that gap between the dietary recommendations and your diet. The various other magnesium benefits mean that people also take magnesium for sleep, to ease muscle pain, and to relax at the end of a stressful day. But, be sure to check in with your doctor before adding any supplements to your regimen.
Bottom line: is magnesium good for you?
Yes! Magnesium is an important mineral that too many people are not getting enough of in their daily diet. Taking a magnesium supplement can help ensure that you are meeting your dietary needs and avoid a potentially dangerous chronic deficiency.