Health 101: Why You Should Be Taking Magnesium

By Heather Willett

Magnesium is a mineral that can be found in many different forms in nature and is responsible for over 300 enzymatic functions. It is a macro-mineral, which the body requires in larger amounts in order to keep vital bodily functions operating. Homeostasis, or a healthy balance, of important minerals is magnesium’s most important role, but it is also necessary for several other biological functions, including:

  • Energy production
  • Maintaining DNA stability
  • Activating muscles and nerves
  • Helping to digest proteins, fats and carbohydrates
  • Regulating the nervous system

Benefits of Magnesium

With magnesium serving so many important functions in our bodies, it is no wonder we see great benefits when we have proper magnesium levels. These benefits include, but aren’t limited to the following:

  1. Reduces insulin resistance
  2. Lower blood pressure
  3. Reduces inflammation
  4. Fights depression
  5. Helps prevent migraines
  6. Effective against Type 2 diabetes
  7. Improves physical performance

Additionally, increasing magnesium intake triggers a protein that helps regulate glucose levels as well as the breakdown of fatty acids. Magnesium also blocks the body’s stress response by blocking calcium channels. When we get stressed, there is an increase of calcium into our cells, which can cause hypertension and heart arrhythmia, but increasing magnesium reduces this risk of a stroke by 8-9% for every 100mg taken and the chances of developing cardiovascular disease by up to 50%.

Magnesium Deficiency

According to Dr. Mercola, nearly 80% of Americans are believed to be deficient in magnesium. Our modern diets don’t provide enough of this essential mineral and because we excrete magnesium when stressed, through urine, during carbohydrate intake and through sweat during exercise, we quickly become depleted without ever replenishing. It is important to learn the signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency, which might consist of:

  • Blood sugar deregulation
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Migraines
  • Kidney stones
  • Osteoporosis
  • Low energy and fatigue
  • Muscle spasms and muscle tightness
  • Insomnia
  • Increased lactic acid retention
  • Nervousness

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, check with your physician and consider increasing your magnesium intake.

Food Sources and Supplements

Fortunately, there are many rich, natural sources and safe, easy ways to increase magnesium levels. Foods such as:

  • Roasted pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Roasted and salted peanuts
  • Walnuts
  • Rice
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Spinach
  • Cooked beans
  • Broccoli
  • Banana
  • Potato

Magnesium supplements are also generally considered safe and effective, but you want to make sure you are taking a supplement that consists of different chelates, is of high-quality and that lists the elemental amounts of minerals. Cheap sources of magnesium tend to be made of magnesium oxide, which is poorly absorbed by the body – only 4 percent of the mineral is actually absorbed with this type. The recommended dosage when taking a supplement is typically between 400mg and 1200mg daily, but always discuss changes to your diet or supplement intake with your physician.

Magnesium is widely available and provides many benefits that can have a strong, positive impact on our health. Many factors, however, can influence magnesium levels such as high intake of caffeine or soda, menopause and old age, certain medications and an unhealthy digestive system. Increasing magnesium by eating foods rich in it or by taking a supplement is a powerful first step toward better health.