Magnesium is a mineral that acts as a co-factor in over 350 enzymatic processes in the human body; which means it helps aid those processes. It is involved with muscular activity, healthy heart functions, nerve transmissions, regulation of body temperature, bone formation, and many more.
Deficiency of magnesium can cause many negative side effects. Negative effects include muscle cramping and weakness, loss of appetite, irritability and restlessness, insomnia, low energy levels, and many more. Magnesium deficiency can also negatively impact bone density, cause irregular heart beats, and increase depression. Clearly, this is a very important mineral in the body.
Here are 21 good reasons why you need adequate magnesium levels in the your diet, and should consider a magnesium supplement.
1. Magnesium is often lower than it should be in food, due to inadequate levels found in the soil in which our food grows.
Due the amount of chemicals, fertilizers used, and other modern efficiency farming techniques, we have disrupted the natural mineral levels in soil, and thus, magnesium is ofter lacking, which means there is less of it in the food that we eat.
Many people will ask why a magnesium supplement is necessary when it is found in foods. Most of the time, this would be a valid point, as natural, whole-food sources are better than supplements, however this is not the case with magnesium, due to the reasons we discussed above.
Ideally, you would find adequate magnesium levels in food, but this is not the case anymore. The World Health Organization has placed magnesium deficiency on it’s list of concerns. More than two thirds of the population in America suffer from this deficiency, and other countries such as Australia, Finland, and France are now also reporting inadequate magnesium intake levels.
Typically, magnesium is found in dark, green, leafy vegetables. It is still found in those foods, however the amounts are much lower, and so regular intake of those vegetables may not provide adequate magnesium to the body, as it once did. Other foods which should contain magnesium, but are now lacking due to soil, are legumes, nuts, and seeds. However, the magnesium in these foods are not often absorbed well by the human body unless special cooking methods are used, so the simplest approach is to just add a quality magnesium supplement.
Green leafy vegetables should be one of the best sources of magnesium; however these days our soils are deficient in the mineral, making our food that grows in the soil depleted too.
2. Many of the refined foods commonly found in today’s diet are magnesium deficient.
We often eat processed foods for the sake of convenience. However, the techniques used to create the foods, the refining process, can remove up to 97% of the magnesium, like when grains are refined to make pasta and bread.
Another very common processed dietary staple in American diets is sugar soft drinks. When soft drinks are consumed, the sugar wreaks havoc on magnesium stores. For every molecule of sugar consumed, nearly 54 times the amount of magnesium is needed to break down the sugar. When you consider how much sugar is found in soda, juice, and other drinks, it is frightening to then think about how much magnesium this is using up.
3. Many prescription drugs can cause levels of magnesium to be depleted.
Many common prescription drugs cause a depletion of the magnesium stores in the body, and drugs many of us are told to take by our doctors. These included diuretics, statins, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory steroids, oral contraceptives, asthma treatments, anti-depressants, and several others.
4. Magnesium aids the body in detoxifying; this seems good, but causes it to be used up very quickly.
The liver is the detoxifying organ in our body, the organ that handles cleaning up and removing all of the toxins consumed. Magnesium aids in this process by preventing environmental toxins commonly consumed through food and pollution from attaching to tissues in the body. By preventing them from attaching, they can be easily removed by the liver. Magnesium is particularly depleted when aiding in the removal of heavy metals, such as lead and aluminum.
5. Regular exercise increased the need for magnesium in the body.
The body produces energy using ATP, which it then breaks down and uses to fire the muscles in our body. It is used very quickly, and so it must be regenerated equally quickly. A big part of this energy process is, you guessed it, magnesium, which is used heavily during ATP production.
Athletes in particular, or vigorous exercises, need more magnesium, as they have higher levels of energy output than the average person would. If magnesium is deficient energy levels will suffer, and the low magnesium may also cause muscle cramping and twitching, which many athletes may have experienced.
Lastly, magnesium may also help reduce lactic acid accumulation, which causes great muscle fatigue and damage during exercise, and it is lost through sweat. With all of these factors at play, it is crucial to ensure adequate magnesium levels if you are an athlete, or regular exerciser.
6. When proper magnesium levels are maintained, the risk of developing cancer is greatly decreased.
Recently, a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that for every 100mg increase in daily intake of magnesium, the risk of developing colorectal cancer decreased by roughly 13%.
7. Magnesium is essential for heart and lung health.
The heart is a muscle, and heavily dependent on magnesium, which regulates the ability of the heart to contract. A deficiency in magnesium can lead to irregular heart beats in otherwise healthy hearts.
In addition, magnesium can help relaxing smooth muscle tissue, which is the sort of muscle tissue found in the lunges and blood vessels. This means that lung conditions such as asthma may be relieved by higher magnesium intake, as well as lowering blood pressure due to the more relaxed muscle of the arterioles. Lastly, magnesium can decrease coagulation, or thickening of the blood, leading to better blood flow, and decrease calcium flow – calcium being a mineral that contributes to hardening of the arteries, and plague formation.
Many doctors will prescribe magnesium to anyone with any sort of heart condition, and it can be useful in preventing heart conditions as well, if you are predisposed to heart conditions, or heart disease runs in the family.
8. Magnesium can aid in decreasing depression.
As briefly mentioned before, magnesium deficiency can increase depression and stress levels. A chemical in the brain called serotonin regulates mood, and is responsible for feelings of happiness. Serotonin production and function is dependent on magnesium, so a deficiency will negatively impact serotonin production.
9. Magnesium is one of the best minerals to supplement with for fitness and bodybuilding enthusiasts.
One study found that magnesium supplementation increased torque in lifters, or force output. This means stronger muscles. We’ve already discussed the role of magnesium in ATP production, which of course is very important for athletes, and thus bodybuilders. Research has also shown that magnesium is a very important part of testosterone production, an anabolic hormone used to build muscle. Finally, we have seen research that shows magnesium supplementation can increase protein synthesis rates, or how fast the body can build muscle.
10. Magnesium has an anti-aging effect.
The body will always age naturally over the years, however, when magnesium is deficient, accelerated aging may occur – something most of us probably don’t want to happen. Supplementation has also been shown to reverse the age-related effects on the neurological and endocrine systems that naturally occur with age.
11. Magnesium can help cope with stress.
Individuals who lead a high-stress life may be at a higher risk of magnesium deficiency. High stress can cause higher adrenaline production, which depletes the body’s stores of magnesium. Deficiency can negatively affect heart rate, which we’ve discussed, and nervous system function, all of which may make stressful situations even worse. By regulating magnesium levels, we can help avoid this problem.
12. Magnesium helps improve insulin sensitivity, which can reduce the risk of diabetes and aid in fat loss.
Magnesium deficiency has been associated with reduced insulin sensitivity, which can lead to higher body fat and an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Avoid this by supplementing to adequate levels.
13. Adequate magnesium levels can prevent bowel disease, as well as constipation.
Magnesium deficiency has been associated with bowel problems, including constipation and decrease regularity. Over time this can lead to an increase risk of bowel disease, blood toxicity, decreased nutrient absorption, and even colitis. A way to gauge magnesium levels is to pay attention to your bowel movements – when they become more frequent, with loose stool, you are getting enough magnesium.
14. Magnesium improves healthy brain functioning.
Magnesium protects the neurological systems in our brains. Deficiency can cause the neurons to become too exciting, damaging them and eventually killing them. Similar to the smooth muscles of the lungs and heart, magnesium can have a protecting and relaxing effect.
15. Magnesium can regulate energy levels and prevent fatigue.
We discussed earlier how magnesium is important in nearly 350 activities in the body. When there is not adequate magnesium, all of the those activities don’t optimally function, and the body can become very tired trying to keep up.
16. Magnesium improves sleep quality.
Magnesium has a calming and relaxing effect on the body’s muscles and nervous systems, which can help the body slow down and sleep through the night, as well as fall asleep sooner. Dr. Mark Hyman calls it the most powerful relaxation mineral available.
17. Magnesium can help reduce hunger cravings.
Magnesium is an essential part of the absorption and utilization process of the food we eat. When it is deficient, we cannot adequately update and use the food we consume, which can lead our body to trigger hunger cravings to get more of those nutrients, as we didn’t absorb them correctly the first time. Many of the functions aided by magnesium also rely on other nutrients from food, so if those functions are not functioning correctly due to lack of magnesium, the body may get confused and send hunger signals.
18. Magnesium helps reduce the negative effects of PMS in women.
Magnesium levels drop during the second half of the female menstrual cycle, so there may be a correlation between lower magnesium and negative PMS symptoms, such as cramping, bloating, headaches, and irritability.
19. Magnesium is essential for proper production of GABA.
Gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is a neurotransmitter in the brain that promotes relaxation and peaceful feelings. Proper GABA levels can decrease depression, anxiety, insomnia, and stress levels.
20. Magnesium is essential for healthy bone formation, as well as tooth health.
We have seen that healthy magnesium levels have a positive effect on bone density. It can help the body break down calcium, which is important for bone density, as well as help convert die-tary vitamin D to the form used by our body. Both of these factors can help prevent osteoporosis.
21. Magnesium can help with the relief of migraines and headaches.
Chronic migraine sufferers have been found to be deficient in magnesium, and one study showed that people who increased their magnesium intake suffered fewer headaches as a re-sult.
At this point, you are probably sold on taking magnesium. There are several forms available, but your best bet will be a magnesium citrate, although all will be effective. They differ in the amount of magnesium per serving that the body can be absorbed, but overall magnesium citrate will be a strong choice, or even a blend of the different types.