Known as "the master mineral," magnesium is responsible for more than 300 metabolic processes in the body. Magnesium deficiency can lead to a host of symptoms including calcium deficiency, poor heart health, muscle cramps, tremors, nausea, high blood pressure, and respiratory illness. As such, it is important to ensure you are getting enough magnesium -- specifically, experts recommend an average daily intake of 310 to 360 mg of magnesium from food. Magnesium supplements are used as needed, to correct magnesium deficiencies.
Magnesium contributes to relaxing the muscles of the airway. People with asthma can benefit from increasing their magnesium intake. Patients in the hospital for respiratory distress are sometimes given magnesium to ease gasping or wheezing. The mineral is even available in intravenous or nebulized forms for those who require more intensive treatment. The anti-inflammatory properties of magnesium can help soothe chest tightness when asthma acts up, and these effects can also ease anxiety.
Magnesium is essential for bone formation. It regulates calcium levels and activates vitamin D synthesis in the kidneys. The bones store more than fifty percent of the magnesium in the body. Studies indicate that the higher one's magnesium intake, the greater their bone mineral density. Those who get enough magnesium throughout their lives are at a lower risk of developing osteoporosis. This is especially important for older, post-menopausal women, as magnesium levels in the bones decrease as they age.
Magnesium is a muscle relaxant. People who experience muscle spasms could have mild magnesium deficiencies and benefit from an increase. The mineral can also help alleviate cramps following trauma to the bone and speed recovery by taking the pressure off the muscle compensating for the injury. Endurance athletes, especially, can benefit from increased magnesium intake. As muscle fatigue sets in, cramps and small muscle spasms can affect athletic performance and lead to injuries during activity.
Increasing magnesium intake can decrease blood pressure. Experts link high blood pressure to heart disease and stroke. In one study, magnesium supplements lowered blood pressure for hypertensive people. Results show that magnesium supplements may reduce blood pressure in those already suffering from high blood pressure but may not affect those with normal levels.
The heart muscle also benefits from magnesium, which helps regulate heartbeat and protects the organ from stress. Many stressors, such as muscle cramps, indigestion, pain, and even constipation, can influence the health of the cardiovascular system, and all these conditions may improve with magnesium. The mineral may also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, two leading contributors to heart attack risk. Additionally, rapid administration of magnesium after a heart attack reduces the risk of mortality and is sometimes used to treat congestive heart failure by reducing irregular heartbeat.
Magnesium may help prevent and relieve constipation thanks to its ability to relax the intestinal muscles, thereby allowing for smoother movement of food and waste through the gut. Magnesium also attracts water to the intestines, which softens stool for easier elimination. Doctors may recommend magnesium supplements to people who experience chronic constipation or prescribe a laxative with magnesium in it. Magnesium oxide has more laxative benefits than other forms.
For those with metabolic syndrome or pre-diabetes, increasing magnesium may help prevent full-blown type-2 diabetes. Magnesium helps regulate blood sugar levels by reducing insulin resistance. Several studies report a link between magnesium deficiency and type 2 diabetes. In one study, people with diabetes who took magnesium supplements experienced improved blood sugar levels.
There is a well-known link between magnesium deficiency and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Since magnesium plays a major role in brain function and mood, people who do not have enough magnesium can experience mild anxiety or depression. During times of significant stress, the magnesium supply is used up more quickly by the body, leading to even more stress. Keep in mind that magnesium may help improve anxiety and depression specifically linked to magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium supplements can increase exercise performance thanks to another role magnesium plays: disposing of lactic acid. During intense physical activity, lactic acid can build up in the muscles and cause pain. Controlled studies of both professional athletes and casual sports enthusiasts demonstrated improvements in race times and overall athletic performance in subjects taking magnesium supplements. The control group was noted to have much less improvement. Professional athletes and those who work out regularly need more magnesium than sedentary individuals.
Magnesium deficiency can cause chronic inflammation, a symptom of many medical conditions including arthritis, Crohn's disease, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and numerous autoimmune diseases. Sufficient magnesium intake may reduce markers of inflammation. The minerals' anti-inflammatory properties may also help reduce the occurrence and intensity of flare-ups in certain conditions.
One of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency is a headache or a migraine. In one study, patients who regularly experienced migraines were given magnesium supplements for 12 weeks. In weeks 9-12, migraine attack frequency was reduced by 41 percent among magnesium takers. You may not have to take magnesium supplements to reduce the recurrence of migraines. Simply upping your intake of magnesium-rich foods could help. As with any chronic medical condition, consult with your specialist or primary care doctor before taking supplements.
People who are deficient in magnesium are most likely low in other vitamins and minerals as well. Magnesium helps in regulating calcium levels, and it aids in the absorption of vitamin D. Without magnesium, you would not be able to properly absorb sodium, potassium, or phosphorus. Deficiencies in these vitamins and minerals can lead to serious medical concerns, making magnesium's job a vital one.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.