In the world of supplementation, magnesium is a popular one. It’s found in numerous products, from green powders to post-workout recovery drinks. But what does it actually do? Is it worth taking magnesium supplements? Can your health benefit from them?
Let’s take a closer look at this popular mineral and see what the benefits of taking magnesium really are. With the research that we have done for you, you may be pleasantly surprised at finding answers to other questions you didn’t even realize that you had with regards to magnesium.
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral that's found in many foods as well as in the human body. You might be shocked to learn that magnesium is actually involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. This includes helping to maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeping a healthy immune system, and ensuring the heart constantly beats steady. Magnesium is also important for blood sugar control and making energy.
Magnesium deficiency is common, and some health experts believe that up to 80% of people in the US could be deficient in magnesium. Unfortunately, not everyone experiences symptoms of magnesium deficiency. For those who do have symptoms it can be one or more of the following issues: fatigue, muscle cramps, anxiety, and irregular heartbeat.
Lots of foods are considered to be magnesium rich as this mineral is found naturally in them. These foods include dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yogurt, and dark chocolate. It’s a bit surprising that magnesium deficiency is so prevalent when these foods are so easy to access and enjoy.
Magnesium Health Benefits
Getting enough magnesium is important because insufficient magnesium can lead to health problems such as:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
Certain groups of people are more likely than others to have low magnesium levels. These groups include older adults, people with gastrointestinal disorders, and people with type 2 diabetes.
So, what are the benefits of taking magnesium supplements? Experts believe that there are a number of health benefits associated with taking magnesium supplements. Studies have shown that magnesium can help lower blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce the risk of heart disease. It can also help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Let's take a more in-depth look at some of these.
1. Involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in your body
Magnesium is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in your body but what does this mean? This basically means that magnesium is needed for your body to be able to perform many different functions. These reactions can be as simple as digesting food, or as complex as replicating DNA.
From regulating blood pressure, maintaining healthy bones, and improving nerve function, magnesium is required. Magnesium is also quite important for energy production, muscle contraction, and blood clotting. Now you know why the mineral magnesium is so vital. Simply put, the body literally can't function properly without it.
2. Boasts anti-inflammatory benefits
Magnesium has always been well known for its role in bone health but more recently, studies have shown that it has anti-inflammatory benefits.
There are several reasons why magnesium may help to reduce inflammation:
- magnesium helps to produce enzymes that regulate inflammation
- magnesium participates in the production of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances that help to regulate inflammation
- magnesium has been shown to suppress the activity of immune cells that contribute to inflammation
- magnesium helps to increase levels of antioxidants in the body, which can protect against the damage caused by inflammation
- magnesium has been shown to reduce the expression of genes that promote inflammation
Experts, because of recent research and studies, have reason to believe that magnesium supplementation can help to reduce the symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, Crohn's disease, and asthma.
3. May combat depression
Magnesium plays a vital role in many different processes including the regulation of neurotransmitter activity. It's needed to regulate mood, sleep, and stress levels. It also has a calming effect on the nervous system.
It helps to regulate levels of other important nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, which are also linked to mood and mental health. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
4. May support healthy blood sugar levels
Magnesium is considered to be one of the key minerals involved in regulating blood sugar levels. Low magnesium levels have been linked with higher fasting blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, both of which can lead to diabetes.
More recent research has revealed that magnesium helps the body to process glucose efficiently and effectively, which certainly assists with keeping blood sugar levels stable.
5. May promote heart health
One of the most well-known benefits of magnesium is its ability to promote heart health. Magnesium helps to relax the blood vessels and keep the heart rhythm regular, which can help to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Since magnesium can also help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, it’s not surprising that magnesium has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
How Can I Increase My Magnesium Intake?
Most adults need between 310 and 420 mg of magnesium per day. If you don't believe you’re getting enough, there are lots of magnesium rich foods you can add to your diet and of course magnesium supplements are readily available. Both options make it a very easy way to top up your magnesium levels.
There are a lot of foods that are considered to be rich in magnesium and the great variety of options means adding these foods is easy and never boring.
Here's a list of just a few dietary options to up your magnesium:
- dark leafy greens: spinach and swiss chard
- nuts: almonds and cashews
- seeds: pumpkin and chia
- beans and lentils
- whole grains
- dairy products
- peanut butter
As you can see from this suggested list, which is not exhaustive, it’s rather easy to include and eat magnesium-rich foods.
For a lot of people, diet alone is often not enough to get the recommended amount of magnesium each day, especially with the busy lifestyles of today’s society. Unfortunately, many people are deficient in magnesium due to soil depletion and a diet high in processed foods. Thankfully, this is where magnesium supplements come to the rescue.
Magnesium supplements are available in many different forms, including pills, powders, and liquids. The type you choose will likely depend on your personal preferences and goals.
Some people prefer to take pills because they're easy to take with you on the go. Others prefer powders because they offer a more customizable dose.
Mixing magnesium powder with liquids is a great way to get your daily dose of this essential mineral. Simply mix it into your favorite smoothie, juice or other liquid and enjoy. You can also add the powder to food, like oatmeal or yogurt.
When considering the right supplement for you, you may want to look for one that contains magnesium citrate, glycinate orotate or carbonate. These forms tend to be more easily absorbed by your body than other types of magnesium.
Be assured that no matter which form you choose, magnesium supplements can help you get the magnesium you need to support your health.
Pros And Cons Of Taking A Magnesium Supplement
There are a few things to consider before taking a magnesium supplement. First, it's important to know that magnesium comes in different forms, and each form is absorbed differently by the body. For instance, magnesium oxide is less easily absorbed than magnesium citrate. So if you're looking for a supplement that will be most effective, be sure to choose one that contains a form of magnesium that is easily absorbed. See above for things to look for in a magnesium supplement.
Secondly, while magnesium supplements can be helpful in increasing magnesium levels in the body, they can also cause diarrhea and other digestive issues in some people. So it's important to start with a low dose and increase gradually so your body can adjust.
Finally, if you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications, please check with your doctor before taking a magnesium supplement, as there may be interactions.
With all of that said, magnesium supplements can be an effective way to increase magnesium levels in the body, and many people find them helpful in relieving symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and muscle cramps.
We know that there are health risks with low magnesium levels despite low magnesium not always having symptoms. As mentioned previously, these concerns include the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even osteoporosis.
Of course the opposite is also true with too much magnesium as a result of high dose supplementation causing health concerns. This might include nausea, digestive issues such as cramping or even diarrhea. Such issues may be avoided by starting with a low dose and gradually increasing to the recommended dosage.
It should also be noted again that if you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications, please check with your doctor before taking a magnesium supplement, as there could quite possibly be interactions or other concerns.
For obvious reasons, it's always best to get your nutrients from food first but sometimes that is just not possible or practical.
If you feel that you need to take magnesium supplements to ensure your body has enough of this vital mineral to do all that it needs to do, please follow the experts' advice and stick to their recommended minimum and maximum dosages which are:
- 310-420 mg for adults
- 80-110 mg for children (be sure to speak with a professional before giving any amount to a child)
Until you know how your body is going to respond to a magnesium supplement, be sure to start with the minimum dosage or even lower and gradually increase if necessary.
Although there are many health benefits and reasons for adding magnesium supplements to your wellness regime, we also must consider any potential risks involved with taking them. Being fully informed when it comes to your health is your best line of defense for what is best for you.
Magnesium supplementation is generally safe for everyone. Those who may need to proceed with caution or who might not be a candidate for taking magnesium supplements would be anyone with the following:
- any diagnosed health condition
- taking medications (including birth control)
- pregnant or breastfeeding
Speaking with your doctor will ensure you avoid any risks or concerns.
What if any are the side effects of too much magnesium in your body or signs that your body cannot absorb the dosage you have taken? Your body will most likely respond with nausea, vomiting, or perhaps even diarrhea.
In very severe cases, magnesium overload could lead to irregular heartbeat, fatigue or low blood pressure.
It’s also important to keep in mind as mentioned above, that magnesium can interact with certain medications such as antacids, antibiotics, diuretics and even birth control. Discuss with your doctor/health care professional before beginning any supplementation.
The Bottom Line
In summary, this article answered many questions about magnesium including: “what are the benefits of taking magnesium?” The benefits, as you found out, were many, making it very worthwhile to consider adding magnesium supplements to your daily health and wellness routine along with adding magnesium rich foods to your daily diet.
By doing both of these things, you are giving your body the best possible resources to ensure your body remains functioning well while also avoiding the numerous health issues that can occur as a result of magnesium deficiency.
The only thing left to do, after speaking with your doctor of course if necessary, is to ensure that the magnesium supplement you choose, in whatever form, is a top quality product from a reputable supply source. Enjoy being a healthier you!