Every organ of the body requires magnesium in some way or the other. Magnesium benefits your health in several ways such as it provides energy to your body, boosts exercise performance, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, etc.
This essential mineral is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It regulates blood glucose levels, aids in the production of energy; helps maintain a healthy immune system and make your bones strong.
An adult body contains 25 grams of magnesium, almost 60 percent of which is in the bones, while rest of it is in soft tissues (1). Let us learn some more about the RDAs, symptoms of magnesium deficiency and magnesium benefits that are found in our diet.
- Suggested read: 13 Foods High in Magnesium and their Benefits
Recommended dietary allowances for magnesium (2)
- Birth to 6 months: 30 mg
- 7 to 12 months: 75 mg
- 1 to 3 years: 80 mg
- 4 to 8 years: 130 mg
- 9 to 13 years: 240 mg
- 14 to 18 years(males) : 410 mg
- 14 to 18 years (females): 360 mg
- 14 to 18 years (pregnancy): 400 mg
- 19 to 30 years (males): 400 mg
- 19 to 30 years (females): 310 mg
- 19 to 30 years (pregnancy) 350 mg
- 31 to 50 years (males): 420 mg
- 31 to 50 years (females): 320 mg
- 31 to 50 years (pregnancy): 360 mg
- 51 plus years (males): 420 mg
- 51 plus years (females): 320 mg
Signs of magnesium deficiency
More than 75 percent of Americans are not able to meet their recommended dietary allowance for magnesium. Recognising the symptoms of magnesium deficiency can help combat it by taking a diet rich in magnesium or supplements. Here are some of the typical signs of magnesium deficiency (3).
- Nausea and dizziness
- Poor memory or confusion
- Muscle cramping
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of appetite
- Panic attacks
- Blood clots
- Calcium deficiency
- Type-2 diabetes
- Bowel disease
- Heart disease
Magnesium benefits on our health
We need magnesium for many vital functions in the body. Here are some magnesium benefits.
1. Provides energy to the body
Magnesium converts food into energy. It activates adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the fundamental unit of energy in the cells of the body. Without magnesium, our body will not be able to metabolize the nutrients that you get through food and supplements into energy.
If we do not have enough magnesium, we will tire more easily and need a higher level of oxygen in our diet. According to the Journal of Nutrition, low levels of magnesium disrupt the body’s ability to use its energy stores efficiently (4). When postmenopausal women were assessed during a cycling exercise, researchers observed that the women who had low levels of magnesium needed more oxygen to finish the training.
2. Boosts exercise performance
According to the latest research, even small shortfalls in magnesium intake can impair athletic performance. Our body needs more magnesium during exercise than when it is inactive (5).
Magnesium benefits can be seen during gym or exercise. It enhances the exercise performance by increasing glucose availability in the blood, muscle, and brain during exercise (6).
Magnesium also helps prevent muscle cramps resulting from exercise.
According to a study on volleyball players who took 250 mg of magnesium a day, researchers observed that magnesium supplementation improved alactic anaerobic metabolism (7).
3. Reduces stress and anxiety
Magnesium benefits people dealing suffering from stress and anxiety. It reduces anxiety by normalizing neurotransmitters and stress hormones. Magnesium is essential for GABA function, which produces happy hormones like serotonin.
Magnesium deficiency can increase the production of cortisol in the brain. According to a study done on mice, low levels of magnesium activate the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus – a part of the brain that controls responses to stress and anxiety (8).
4. Helps fight depression
Magnesium is as effective as anti-depressant drugs in fighting depression. When there is a shortage of magnesium in your body, serotonin levels decrease, which can lead to depression.
According to a study on 8894 people, researchers discovered a significant association between low magnesium intake and depression, especially in younger adults (9).
The reason for the low levels of magnesium in food is that much mineral content is lost during processing. Only 16 percent of magnesium in wheat remains in the wheat flour. Magnesium content has also been removed from our drinking water (10).
However, we can make up for this loss through magnesium supplements.
During a study on 23 elderly depressed patients with type-2 diabetes and hypomagnesemia, researchers discovered magnesium chloride is as useful in the treatment of depression as other antidepressant medicines (11).
5. Treats insomnia
Magnesium benefits people suffering from a sleep disorder such as insomnia. In fact, insomnia is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium helps maintain healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep.
Magnesium also helps to decrease cortisol (stress hormone) that can keep you awake at night.
During a clinical trial on 46 older adults with insomnia, researchers observed magnesium supplements improved subjective measures of insomnia like ISI score, sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset latency (12).
6. Lowers risk of type-2 diabetes
Eating a magnesium-rich diet can reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes. According to the scientists from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, high magnesium intake is associated with reduced risk of type-2 diabetes.
Since magnesium deficiency causes insulin resistance, which causes type-2 diabetes, increased magnesium can help prevent these complications.
According to a study on 62 patients with type-2 diabetes, supplementation with magnesium chloride improved blood sugar and hemoglobin levels (13).
7. Helps relieve constipation
Magnesium is a natural method for reducing symptoms of constipation in people of all ages. Magnesium helps to relax the muscles in the digestive tract and pull water into the intestines. It also helps to neutralize the stomach acids and move stools through the intestines.
During a study on 64 patients experiencing constipation, scientists discovered that magnesium hydroxide is more efficient in relieving the symptoms of constipation than bulk laxatives (14).
The proper dosage for magnesium varies according to age, so you should be careful about the amount you take.
Magnesium supplementation may be helpful in keeping blood pressure under control (15).
According to a meta-analysis of 34 studies, researchers found that taking 368 mg of magnesium supplements daily for a three-months period helped reduce systolic blood pressure by 2 mm Hg and decreased diastolic blood pressure by 1.8 mm Hg.
However, this benefit may be for people who have high blood pressure. According to another study, magnesium supplementation does not affect people with normal blood pressure (16).
Low magnesium levels are linked to headaches and migraines. According to research, magnesium deficiency is more prevalent in migraine sufferers than in healthy adults (17).
Magnesium can help control migraines by releasing pain-reducing hormones and reducing constriction of the blood vessels. Studies have shown that preventive migraine treatment with oral magnesium and acute migraine treatment with intravenous magnesium is useful in those suffering from migraines (18).
10. Improves PMS symptoms
Magnesium supplementation can help ease the signs of the premenstrual syndrome like mood swings, irritability, anxiety, bloating, breast tenderness, sugar cravings and poor sleep. During a study on 32 women with PMS, researchers discovered that supplementation with Magnesium pyrrolidone carboxylic acid is an effective treatment for PMS (19).
11. Prevents osteoporosis
Magnesium supplementation can play an essential role in preventing and fighting osteoporosis. Magnesium is vital for the absorption and metabolism of calcium.
Magnesium, along with the thyroid and parathyroid glands, supports bone health. The thyroid gland stimulates the production of calcitonin, which acts like a bone-protecting hormone. It also regulates the parathyroid hormone, which regulates bone breakdown.
Magnesium is also essential for the conversion of vitamin D into its active form.
Several studies suggest that higher magnesium intake leads to increased bone mineral density in both men and women.
12. Can reduce inflammation
According to research, a daily magnesium supplement can reduce the levels of inflammation that can lead to heart attack. Magnesium supplements can reduce the levels of C- reactive protein in people with inflammation in the body.
According to a study on 100 individuals over the age of 51, magnesium supplements can reduce CRP and other markers of inflammation in people with diabetes or overweight people (20).
13 Can prevent preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is a complication some women experience about 20 weeks into pregnancy. Its symptoms include high blood pressure and organs not working correctly. Magnesium sulfate reduces the risk of seizure in women with preeclampsia (21).
14. Regulates levels of potassium, calcium, and sodium
Magnesium is essential for many enzymatic reactions and transmembrane ion movements (22). It helps in the transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes. This helps in normal heart rhythms, muscle and impulse contraction.
Magnesium is also essential for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione.
Risks of magnesium supplements
Magnesium doses of less than 350 mg are considered safe for most adults. However, when taken in huge amounts, magnesium can cause side effects diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramping.
People with diabetes, heart disease, kidney issues and intestinal disease should not take any magnesium supplement before speaking with their healthcare provider.
Final thoughts on magnesium benefits
Magnesium is essential for good health. It is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium benefits include better energy levels, reduced risk of osteoporosis and type-2 diabetes.
We must have a diet rich in magnesium or take supplements to improve the levels of this essential mineral in our body.