Magnesium — The Under-Appreciated Hero of Minerals
Health experts are finally starting to agree that a simple, inexpensive mineral can support good health in many ways.
That mineral is magnesium — and it has many effects on the body.
In her book The Magnesium Miracle, Dr. Carolyn Dean makes a bold claim, stating that “magnesium is by far the most important nutrient in the body.”
Every system in the body requires magnesium to function properly. As the 4th most abundant mineral in the body, magnesium is required by over 300 enzymes to function correctly.
Magnesium helps create energy from food. It aids in the regulation of blood sugar, and supports the heart and heart rhythm, blood vessels, and mood and brain health. Around 50% of our body stores of magnesium are located in bone, which contributes to bone strength and structure.
Magnesium Research Startles Scientists
As research continues into this important nutrient, more benefits continue to come to light.
Longevity and magnesium. A 2015 Taiwan study reported in the journal Nutrients found that magnesium levels are linked to aging, free radical formation, and potential imbalanced inflammatory response.
Magnesium and cardiovascular health. Research reported in 2011 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that study dietary magnesium had a positive effect on cardiovascular health. Magnesium supports healthy blood vessels and a strong heartbeat.
Magnesium and blood sugar. Supplementing with magnesium has a positive effect on blood sugar levels.
Headaches and magnesium. Research shows that people who suffer from certain headaches have lower levels of magnesium than those who do not. Magnesium insufficiency is linked to neurotransmitter release and constriction of blood vessels.
Magnesium, bone, and dental health. Magnesium levels are linked to bone density. Similarly, teeth require magnesium for their structure. Supplementing with magnesium has been shown to help retain more teeth and improve tooth attachment.
Magnesium and pain. Magnesium has been shown to reduce certain types of pain.
Our National Magnesium Crisis
Health experts warn that the majority of people in our country suffer, usually unknowingly, from magnesium deficiency.
Dietary intake of magnesium has dropped significantly since 1900. The National Academy of Sciences notes that most women in the U.S. average around 70% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium. Men get about 80%.
This may not sound so bad, but the RDA is merely the minimum level that prevents serious deficiency symptoms. It’s far below the optimal level necessary for good health according to many health professionals.
Why are We So Deficient in This Vital Mineral?
Many factors explain why we’ve become depleted as a population when it comes to our magnesium levels:
- Diets filled with processed foods
- Soil depleted of magnesium
- Today’s water supply and bottled water are low in magnesium (compared to how people used to get the mineral naturally from springs and wells)
- Some drugs deplete the body of magnesium
- Chronic stress elevates the hormone adrenaline, further depleting magnesium
- Aging (older adults have a reduced ability to absorb magnesium in the gut and are more likely to use medications that increase risk of magnesium depletion)
Common Symptoms of Magnesium Depletion
While magnesium performs hundreds of body functions in the body, many scientists believe its most important function is cellular energy production. An enzyme called ATP, which is created in the microscopic cellular mitochondria, is our primary source of cellular energy. But ATP must be bound to magnesium ions for it to be biologically active. And sadly, many people just don’t have sufficient magnesium available.
Since magnesium is so crucial to body energy production, common symptoms of being low in magnesium include:
- Lack of energy
- Muscle cramps, spasms, and pain
- Trouble sleeping
Boosting Your Body Supply of Magnesium
Magnesium is found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. However, as noted above, modern food processing and farming techniques have lowered the magnesium content significantly.
That’s yet another reason why many health professionals recommend supplemental magnesium for all its beneficial effects on the body.
However, magnesium comes in many different forms: magnesium oxide magnesium chloride, magnesium citrate, and others.
One form, magnesium malate, is a combination of magnesium and malic acid. Malic acid is found in apples and is responsible for their tart taste. Malic acid plays a role in the body’s energy producing system, known as the Krebs cycle.
Many experts believe magnesium malate is more easily absorbed than other types of magnesium supplements. One animal study compared several magnesium supplements, concluding that magnesium malate afforded the most bioavailable magnesium.