Supplements

7 Amazing Health Benefits of Taking Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium Supplement
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Medically reviewed & fact checked by a board-certified doctor.

If you haven’t heard about the benefits of taking magnesium supplements, I’m actually excited for you because this amazing mineral has the power to change your life!

They’re often dubbed the “super supplement” because magnesium is used in over 300 biochemical reactions, so right now, as you read this, you’re sitting, reading, and breathing thanks to magnesium.

One cause for concern is that many of us are magnesium deficient, often without even knowing it. Researchers estimate that around 50% of the American population [1] is magnesium deficient. If you’ve noticed that you’re low on energy, not sleeping well, struggling with inflammation or headaches, then your magnesium levels might be out of balance.

The bulk of magnesium is found in your bones, and the balance can be found in soft tissues, blood, and other fluids. There is no single cell in your body that doesn’t have magnesium in it, and without magnesium, your cells cannot function.

Magnesium is essential for:

  • Creating proteins from amino acids
  • Creating and repairing your DNA and RNA
  • Converting food into energy
  • Moving your muscles through contraction and relaxation
  • Regulating your nervous system

And, is it important to be getting enough magnesium? Absolutely! Grab a cup of coffee and settle in; you do not want to miss the extraordinary benefits that magnesium has to offer.

1. It helps you sleep better

I’m a firm believer in the power of sleep (if you’re not convinced, watch this Ted Talk), so anything that’s going to improve my sleep quality has my full attention.

Getting Quality Sleep

While I’m not an insomniac, sleep disorders affect around 50 to 70 million Americans [2], and research shows that proper nutrition, along with other lifestyle factors, may be key to turning this around. And magnesium may be the key to unlocking a great night’s sleep.

How does it work?

Magnesium helps to prepare your body for sleep by relaxing the muscles and calming your mind by regulating neurotransmitters that are keeping you awake. It also works with melatonin to maintain your circadian rhythms (your sleep cycle).

What does the research say?

  • Magnesium supplements effectively improve sleep [3] efficiency, time spent asleep, and reduce the frequency of early morning waking.
  • Magnesium may also help with restless leg syndrome [4] by relaxing muscles and lowering inflammation as well as working with your sleep chemicals (melatonin and glutathione).
  • The mineral, when taken with melatonin, can help reduce insomnia [5] in seniors; it helps improve sleep quality and duration.

2. It boosts energy levels and exercise performance

As I mentioned before, magnesium is essential for over 300 biochemical reactions, one of which is breaking glucose down into energy. So, it makes sense you’re going to struggle for energy if your body cannot access its energy reserves.

Your magnesium balance also has important implications for exercise performance because, depending on the type of exercise, you’re going to need 10% to 20% more magnesium [6] compared to resting.

How does it work?

Magnesium is responsible for activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an organic compound that provides energy and drives internal body processes such as muscle contraction and nerve impulse propagation.

During exercise, magnesium helps to move blood sugar into the muscles, as well as removing and disposing of lactate build-up. This means that your body is getting the fuel that it needs for the activity, and the removal of lactate will reduce muscle fatigue.

What does the research say?

  • In a study done on women, researchers found that a magnesium deficiency resulted in a higher heart rate and more oxygen needed to complete physical tasks – which means that your body is working harder [7], and you’re going to feel tired more quickly.
  • Magnesium supplements can boost exercise performance in athletes [8] as well as seniors [9] and those with chronic diseases [10].

3. It can help control migraines

If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know how debilitating it can be. From vomiting and nausea to sound and light sensitivity, a migraine is something that you want to avoid at all costs. But, there is a possible solution: a magnesium supplement.

How does it work?

Of the hundreds of biochemical reactions that magnesium plays a role in, there are a few that will impact neural function. Magnesium helps with blood circulation, pain control (through the release of pain-reducing hormones and blood vessel constriction), and neurotransmitter function.

What does the research say?

  • Magnesium supplements can help prevent [11] and treat [12] migraines.
  • Magnesium may be more effective in providing relief from a migraine attack [13] than other medications.

4. It regulates blood pressure and improves heart health

Your body needs magnesium to maintain muscle health, and one of the most important muscles is your heart.

How does it work?

In conjunction with calcium, magnesium regulates blood pressure and prevents hypertension (high blood pressure). It can also decrease your risk of dying following a heart attack due to magnesium’s role on a cellular level.

What does the research say?

  • Magnesium can lower blood pressure [14]
  • It can decrease both systolic and diastolic pressure [15]
  • A magnesium deficiency can increase your risk of cardiovascular problems [16]
  • Magnesium can reduce your risk of a stroke [17]

5. Helps protect against insulin resistance and diabetes

Insulin resistance means that your muscle cells and liver cells aren’t able to absorb the sugar in your bloodstream, making it one of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. And the bad news is two-fold. If you have metabolic syndrome, you’re much more likely to be magnesium-deficient [18], and the high levels of insulin in the blood (which characterizes insulin resistance) are going to further deplete your body’s magnesium levels through urination [19].

If you have type 2 diabetes, you’re also more likely to have low magnesium levels [20], making it more difficult to manage your blood sugar levels.

How does it work?

High magnesium diets or magnesium supplementation is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. This is because magnesium plays an essential role in the control of glucose and insulin metabolism.

What does the research say?

  • Magnesium supplementation can help reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar levels [21].
  • Low magnesium intake is associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes [22].
  • Higher levels of magnesium intake reduce your risk of developing diabetes by 47% [23].
  • Daily magnesium supplementation is linked to improvements in blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c levels [24] in people with type 2 diabetes.

6. Bone health

It’s standard knowledge that you need calcium to build strong bones, but what you might not have known is that calcium works in partnership with magnesium and is necessary for keeping bones strong and malleable (able to bend without breaking).

Bone Health

On top of that, magnesium is needed for the production of the hormones that allow the body to absorb calcium and vitamin D (which are both vital for bone health.)

How does it work?

Magnesium targets the bone’s natural aging process, reducing the rate of degradation and break down so that your bones stay strong. Higher bone mineral density reduces your risk of bone fractures, as well as delaying the onset and progression of osteoporosis.

What does the research say?

  • Magnesium is essential for bone health [25]; a magnesium deficiency contributes to bone loss as the crystal formation in bone cells is affected, calcium absorption is reduced (as the hormone that controls calcium absorption is reduced) it creates inflammation in the bones.
  • Higher levels of magnesium consumption are linked to higher bone mineral density [26].

7. Chronic inflammation

Magnesium can reduce chronic inflammation, which leads to obesity and chronic disease and is one of the major causes of aging.

How does it work?

Magnesium works as an antioxidant support, as it is needed for the body’s most important antioxidant: glutathione — this antioxidant is present in almost all your body’s cells and is necessary for their survival and therefore has an important role to play in your health.

Magnesium supports the proper function of the enzyme responsible for the synthesis of glutathione, as well as maintaining the antioxidant’s balance. It also accelerates the antioxidant’s ability to neutralize free radicals, which have a detrimental effect on cellular health and lifespan.

So, the faster you can neutralize the free radicals, the better your body is protected from their damaging effects.

Magnesium is therefore essential in the fight against chronic inflammation, which is caused by damage done by free radicals to healthy cells.

What does the research say?

  • Low magnesium is linked to chronic disease [22].
  • Low magnesium can accelerate aging [22].
  • Magnesium supplements can reduce inflammation in seniors [26], people who are overweight [27], and those at risk of developing diabetes [28].

Other Health Benefits

There are so many other areas that magnesium can affect, including:

  • Improved digestion – if the muscles in your digestive tract are tight or in spasm, magnesium can help. It relaxes the muscles, which helps to regulate and improve the digestion process as well as counterbalancing stomach acid.
  • Higher levels of relaxation – magnesium plays a role in hormone regulation, so if you’re stressed or anxious, magnesium can help by facilitating the release of serotonin (the happy hormone), calming your brain, and encouraging relaxation.
  • Reduced PMS symptoms – PMS is one of the most common disorders in women, but studies show that magnesium can relieve PMS symptoms such as fluid retention [29], irritability [30], and pain.
  • Asthma – magnesium is often used in treating serious asthma cases as it helps to inhibit bronchial muscle spasms. Daily magnesium supplementation can manage the condition in children and adults.
  • Mood improvement – magnesium improves brain function and mood [31], and a magnesium deficiency increases your risk of developing depression [32].
  • Muscle pain – if you have frequent muscle aches or spasms, a magnesium supplement can relax them. This is because magnesium is involved in sending and receiving neuromuscular signals and plays a role in muscle contractions.

What are the best food sources for magnesium?

Food Milligrams
(mg) per
serving
Pumpkin seeds, roasted, 1 ounce 156
Chia seeds, 1 ounce 111
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 80
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup 78
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 74
Peanuts, oil roasted, ¼ cup 63
Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits 61
Soymilk, plain or vanilla, 1 cup 61
Black beans, cooked, ½ cup 60
Edamame, shelled, cooked, ½ cup 50
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons 49
Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces 43
Rice, brown, cooked, ½ cup 42
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces 42
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 10% of the DV for magnesium, 1 serving 42
Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet 36
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup 35
Banana, 1 medium 32
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces 26
Milk, 1 cup 24–27
Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces 24
Raisins, ½ cup 23
Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice 23
Avocado, cubed, ½ cup 22
Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces 22
Beef, ground, 90% lean, pan broiled, 3 ounces 20
Broccoli, chopped and cooked, ½ cup 12
Rice, white, cooked, ½ cup 10
Apple, 1 medium 9
Carrot, raw, 1 medium 7

Source: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/

What happens if you have a magnesium deficiency?

Magnesium is in every cell in the body and is involved in hundreds of processes, from muscle contractions to neural messages, heart rate regulation, and immunity.

For some, eating a healthy diet of green vegetables, beans, nuts, fish and whole grains will mean that you’re getting enough magnesium, but with close to 50% of Americans deficient in magnesium [33], it’s not a given.

You’re more at risk of a magnesium deficiency if you’re on antibiotics, have a digestive disorder (such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or chronic diarrhea), or kidney disease. Your risk of developing a magnesium deficiency also increases as you get older.

A magnesium deficiency will lead to elevated inflammation, which is at the root of many major health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. It’s also thought to be a contributing factor to osteoporosis.

If you’re concerned about your magnesium levels, you can order a simple blood test, which can show whether you need to supplement with magnesium.

It’s critical that you seek a medical professional’s advice to check and make recommendations for health markers.

What are the different types of magnesium, and which should you be taking?

If you’re interested in supplementing with magnesium, chances are you’ve had a quick look online and come unstuck. How are you supposed to know which one to take with so many different forms to choose from?

Magnesium Element

Luckily, the answer is a bit more simple than it looks initially; here’s what you need to know:

  • Magnesium chloride – this is the most common (and most popular) form of the supplement on the market. It’s a great choice because it offers high bioavailability (so it’s easy for your body to use) and is a natural way to improve digestion, bone health, physical and mental calm, and sleep.
  • Magnesium citrate – derived from citric acid and offering excellent bioavailability, it’s the magnesium supplement most recommended by health professionals. It supports digestion and is an affordable option too.
  • Magnesium oxide – this supplement doesn’t offer good bioavailability and is less popular. Avoid this form. Too much of it will have you running to the toilet!
  • Magnesium malate – combined with malic acid (naturally occurring in fruits), this form is the most bioavailable. It is often recommended for people with fibromyalgia as a treatment for the fatigue and stiffness characteristic of this chronic illness.
  • Magnesium lactate – this supplement is easy for the body to absorb and doesn’t have any digestive side effects.
  • Magnesium taurate – combined with the amino acid taurine, this form may be beneficial for those seeking heart health-boosting benefits and potentially lowering blood pressure.
  • Magnesium sulfate – this common magnesium supplement is better known as Epsom salts and is a top choice for sore muscles.
  • Magnesium glycinate – this is linked to improving a sense of calm, supports muscle relaxation, and offers optimal bioavailability.
  • Magnesium orotate – known for its heart health-boosting properties, is used by people while chronic diseases as well as by athletes because of its ability to support tissue repair and improve exercise performance.
  • Magnesium L-threonate – this is good for your brain (improving cognitive function and reducing dementia) and has good bioavailability.

Below are supplements that I have used and highly recommend:

Magnesium Glycinate
Magnesium Taurate, Glycinate, and Malate

How much magnesium should you take, and when should you take it?

The best way to correct a deficiency is through your diet; eating foods that are high in magnesium can restore the levels in your body.

However, it can be difficult to correct an existing deficit state, making supplementation a convenient, effective option. 

For most people, magnesium supplements can be taken daily over and above your magnesium consumption through food. There is such a thing as too much magnesium, and taking too many magnesium supplements can be toxic. The amount of magnesium you take should be adapted depending on your age:

  • Children 1 – 3: 65mg/day
  • Children 4 – 8: 11mg/day
  • Adults (and children 9+): 350mg/day

Magnesium should ideally be taken with calcium as they work together with the absorption and metabolism of each being dependent on the other. Other co-factors that can improve the absorption of magnesium in the body include vitamins D3 and K2, as well as boron and trace minerals.

*Check with your healthcare professional before taking any supplements.

My Thoughts?

Magnesium is the most incredible mineral, but it often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. While we know that it’s important for bone health and proper muscle function, there’s so much more to it.

If you’re into bodybuilding or weight training, a magnesium supplement is a must!

Getting your magnesium levels in balance means that you’re going to feel much better almost immediately as your mood, brain, and sleep regulation improves. But you’re also setting yourself up to stay healthy for many years to come, from your heart to your blood sugar levels, bone health and antioxidants to ward off chronic diseases; there are so many benefits to be had from a good level of magnesium in the body.

For me, it’s a reminder to be eating well. Let’s face it: we could all benefit from an extra helping every day. But more than that, it’s about making a commitment to my future health by focusing on magnesium supplements now that will continue to offer protection against chronic diseases.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26404370
  2. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/resources/sleep/drsy_drv.pdf
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23853635
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14572876
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21226679
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17172008
  7. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/132/5/930/4687320
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24015935
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25008857
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22760901
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12786918
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18705538
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25278139
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19617879
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19020533
  16. https://openheart.bmj.com/content/5/2/e000775
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6692462/
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22364157
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7587003
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26322160
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12663588
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21868780
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20807870
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12663588
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3775240/
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21199787
  27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21159786
  28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24814039
  29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9861593
  30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2067759
  31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23950577
  32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25748766
  33. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22364157

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