Magnesium is found throughout the body and is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body. Every cell in the body contains this mineral and needs it to function. Some foods rich in magnesium include nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, leafy greens, fruits, and water. Research centred in the U.S. finds that approximately 50% of adults get less than the recommended daily amount of magnesium. Here are the health benefits of this mineral.
Foods rich in magnesium
- Dark chocolate
- Nuts including almonds, cashew nuts, Brazil nuts
- Legumes including lentils, beans, chickpeas, peas, and soybeans
- Seeds including flax seeds, pumpkin, and chia seeds
- Whole greens including wheat, oats, and barley
- Some fatty fish including salmon and mackerel
- Leafy greens including kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, and mustard greens
Biochemical reactions in the body
Magnesium is involved in more than 600 reactions in the body including:
- Energy creation (converting food into energy)
- Protein formation (creating new proteins from amino acids)
- Gene maintenance (helping create and repair DNA and RNA)
- Muscle movements (aiding in muscle contraction and relaxation)
- Nervous system regulation (regulating neurotransmitters which send messages throughout your brain and nervous system)
Support bone health
Studies show a positive association between magnesium intake and bone mineral density in both men and women. It protects against bone loss with studies linking lower levels of this mineral with a higher risk of osteoporosis.
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Magnesium is known to treat some psychiatric dysfunctions such as panic attacks, stress, anxiety, and undue agitation. Some research suggests that it may help treat and prevent anxiety. Other research suggests that a deficiency may increase the body’s susceptibility to stress thus amplifying symptoms of anxiety.
One study found that increased magnesium intake led to a lower risk of depression. People under 65 with the lowest magnesium intake had a 22% greater risk of depression. Supplementing it may help reduce symptoms of depression. It has mood-improving effects which can benefit a person with or without the accompanying use of antidepressant medication.
Support better sleep
Magnesium may also help improve sleep quality. It helps quieten the nervous system, creating a calm, relaxed disposition. One study found that the mineral can help reverse the changes in sleep patterns we experience as we age. The supplements are often used as a natural remedy for sleep issues like insomnia.
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Promote heart health
Magnesium supports heart health by helping regulate blood pressure. This is important because high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and strokes. One study found a link between magnesium intake and a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
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Relieves cramps and PMS symptoms
Some research suggests that magnesium supplements help relieve PMS symptoms as well as menstrual cramps and migraine attacks. This is likely because levels of the mineral fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle which can worsen PMS symptoms. Taking it helped decrease bloating, depression, and anxiety in women with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).
Prevent migraine attacks
Some researchers believe that people with magnesium deficiency are more likely than others to have migraines with studies showing that taking supplements can prevent and treat migraine headaches.
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Boost exercise performance
Magnesium helps boost energy production in the body and promotes the activation of enzymes to create cellular energy. The mineral also helps move blood sugar into the muscles and dispose of lactate which can build up during exercise and cause fatigue.
One study found that women who took the mineral increased muscle mass and power. When given to volleyball players, they experienced improvements in jumping and arm movements.
Blood sugar levels
Studies suggest that people who consume more magnesium have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. About 48% of people with type 2 diabetes have low blood levels of the mineral. The supplements help enhance insulin sensitivity which is a key factor involved in blood sugar control. One study found that the supplements improved blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity in people at risk for type 2 diabetes.
One study found that magnesium supplements helped reduce the markers of inflammation among patients. Other studies link a deficiency of the mineral to increased oxidative stress which is related to inflammation.
Promotes mineral absorption
Magnesium helps the body absorb vital vitamins and minerals like sodium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
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