Magnesium used to be one of the most overlooked minerals, but more people are starting to realize how important this mineral is. It’s become more popular as an ingredient in drinks that are designed to help you relax, and it’s also used in bath salts. You may even know people who have chosen to start taking a magnesium supplement in order to boost their health.
Magnesium is involved in hundreds of different chemical reactions in your body. Because of this, it turns out that magnesium is absolutely crucial for many different aspects of health. What are the benefits of this mineral? How can you know if you’re getting enough magnesium?
1. Bone health
Most people are aware that calcium is important for strong bones, but it turns out that magnesium is just as important. Both of these minerals contribute to the formation of bone tissue.
Low magnesium intake is associated with lower bone mineral density and an increased risk of osteoporosis, especially in older women. Getting enough magnesium can help you to keep your bones strong.
2. Blood sugar control
Magnesium plays a role in the body’s ability to process sugar, because it supports the function of so many enzymes. Taking magnesium can improve insulin sensitivity, which helps your body to process carbs so that your blood sugar doesn’t spike. Spikes in blood sugar cause damage to your blood vessels, and this damage can add up over time to cause chronic health issues.
Diets high in magnesium have been linked to a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, and many people with diabetes also have low magnesium levels. Taking magnesium can help people to gain better control of their diabetes. For people with prediabetes, increased magnesium intake has been shown to improve blood sugar control and reduce the odds of progressing to full-blown diabetes.
3. Improved mood
Magnesium also plays a huge role in the functioning of your nervous system, so it’s not surprising that it can affect your mood. Low levels of magnesium are associated with both depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, these are both common problems in our modern society, and many people experience both of them at the same time.
Research suggests that taking magnesium may be helpful for mood. One study showed that taking 450mg of magnesium daily was just as effective as pharmaceutical antidepressants for treating depression. Although the evidence for anxiety is not as robust, the research suggests that taking magnesium can help with anxiety too. Many people find that taking a dose of magnesium close to bedtime helps them to calm down, relax, and prepare for sleep. Taking some magnesium when you feel stressed and overwhelmed can also be helpful.
4. Cardiovascular health
This mineral is also important for keeping the cardiovascular system functioning well. Magnesium is one of the four main minerals that regulate blood pressure (the other three are sodium, potassium, and calcium). It’s also important for the function of muscles, including the heart. Low magnesium has been associated with a variety of cardiovascular problems, while healthy magnesium levels help to support heart function.
Migraine is another common condition that’s related to changes in blood flow. Low magnesium is associated with greater frequency and severity of migraines, and studies suggest that taking magnesium supplements can help to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines for some people.
5. Reduced chronic inflammation
Magnesium is also involved in the function of the immune system in many different ways. It helps the immune system to fight off viruses and bacteria, and also helps to keep it from becoming overactive and damaging your own tissues.
Low magnesium levels are linked to chronic inflammation, which in turn is linked to a number of diseases. More and more research is showing how damaging chronic inflammation can be to many different aspects of your health. Magnesium can help to fight excessive inflammation and protect your well-being.
How much magnesium do you need?
The recommended intake of magnesium depends on your age and gender. For women, it’s 310mg a day for those who are 18-30, and 320mg a day in older groups. Men need a little more, at 400mg for ages 18-30 and 410mg for those who are older.
Some people are able to get enough magnesium through food. Foods high in magnesium include dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and leafy greens.
Another way to get magnesium naturally is by taking a bath in Epsom salt, which is a form of magnesium. The magnesium will absorb through your skin. There are also magnesium sprays you apply directly to the skin. Getting magnesium through your skin helps to avoid any potential digestive issues that taking a magnesium pill can sometimes cause.
Some people prefer to take a magnesium supplement in the form of a pill. It’s important to remember that getting too much magnesium is not good either, so you don’t want to take a huge dose daily. If you do choose a magnesium supplement, try to stay close to the recommended daily intake (as listed above), so that you don’t end up with too much. It’s a good idea to discuss it with your doctor before you start taking any supplement, especially if you have any kind of chronic illness or if you take any pharmaceuticals on a regular basis.
Please note this is not intended to be medical advice. As with any change in your diet, please consult your physician prior to starting a new regimen.