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Unlocking the Power of Magnesium: Why Your Body Needs This Essential Mineral


Green background with items laid out which have magnesium: greens powder, kiwi, leafy greens, banana and apple. A bottle of water lays on it side to the left of the items

Magnesium is a nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy. Magnesium is important for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure and making protein, bone, and DNA. The diets of many people in the United States provide less than the recommended amounts of magnesium. Men older than 70 and teenage girls and boys are most likely to have low intakes of magnesium.


Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. Extreme magnesium deficiency can cause numbness, tingling, muscle cramps, seizures, personality changes, and an abnormal heart rhythm.

The following groups of people are more likely than others to get too little magnesium:

  • People with gastrointestinal diseases (such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease)

  • People with type 2 diabetes

  • People with long-term alcoholism

  • Older people


Depending on the benefit you are looking for, magnesium comes in different forms. For example, magnesium citrate is helpful for sleep support while magnesium gycinate is better used for supporting bone health and regular heart rhythm. 


Roles magnesium plays in the body


Protein synthesis (creating protein). Magnesium is needed for the formation of protein within the body. 

It works to help control blood glucose. By helping to metabolize sugar molecules, magnesium is essential for helping to control blood glucose levels. Diets with higher amounts of magnesium are associated with a significantly lower risk of diabetes, possibly because of the important role of magnesium in glucose metabolism 


ATP metabolism, DNA replication & transcription. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is a molecule that provides energy to drive and support many processes in living cells, such as muscle contraction. It is also a precursor to DNA and RNA, and is used as a coenzyme. Anyone with a degree in exercise science or kinesiology has had to learn about this process of energy production with the Krebs Cycle (you know, that thing that you had to memorize but nobody asks you about). This is your true metabolism! It has nothing to do with the weight on the scale. Remember, supporting your metabolism is more than a hack or quick fix. Your metabolism is simply a chain of chemical reactions that occur within the body. Giving your body enough of the fuel it needs to function is how you support your metabolism!


Needed for muscle contraction. Magnesium plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm.


Regulates blood pressure. Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Studies to date, however, have found that magnesium supplementation helps to lower blood pressure in some individuals. 


Supports nerve function. From a neurological standpoint, magnesium plays an essential role in nerve transmission and neuromuscular conduction. It also functions in a protective role against excessive excitation that can lead to neuronal cell death (excitotoxicity), and has been implicated in multiple neurological disorders.


Supports sleep. Nearly 50% of older adults suffer from insomnia, but an Iranian trial discovered that magnesium supplements could help. When researching the magnesium insomnia connection, they found that elderly people taking magnesium for eight weeks had "statistically significant increases in sleep time, sleep efficiency, and concentration of sleep-regulating hormone melatonin". They also scored lower on the Insomnia Severity Index, plus the length of time it took them to fall asleep dropped, as did their stress hormones.


Regulates hormonal activities. Magnesium has a clear positive impact on hormonal health, offering support for things like sleep, mood and premenstrual syndrome.


Contributes to bone density. Magnesium is important for healthy bones. People with higher intakes of magnesium have a higher bone mineral density, which is important in reducing the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. Getting more magnesium from foods or dietary supplements might help older women improve their bone mineral density. More research is needed to better understand whether magnesium supplements can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis or treat this condition. Magnesium is involved in bone formation and influences the activities of osteoblasts and osteoclasts. It also affects the concentrations of both parathyroid hormone and the active form of vitamin D, which are major regulators of bone homeostasis. 




The Importance of Magnesium graphic. Text is the same as outlined in the blog article

Magnesium plays a role in over 500 processes in the body. Additionally, 54 molecules of magnesium are required to metabolize a single molecule of sugar. Just another reason to lower your overall intake of sugar and incorporate magnesium-rich foods in your diet!


When your diet doesn’t provide enough magnesium, it is important to utilize a supplement to ensure optimal magnesium levels. As always, make sure you invest in a high quality, pharmaceutical grade supplement to ensure you are getting the best supplement without all of the fillers and additives.


Magnesium supplements can interact or interfere with some medicines. Here are several examples:

  • Bisphosphonates, used to treat osteoporosis, are not well absorbed when taken too soon before or after taking dietary supplements or medications with high amounts of magnesium.

  • Antibiotics might not be absorbed if taken too soon before or after taking a dietary supplement that contains magnesium.

  • Diuretics can either increase or decrease the loss of magnesium through urine, depending on the type of diuretic.

  • Prescription drugs used to ease symptoms of acid reflux or treat peptic ulcers can cause low blood levels of magnesium when taken over a long period of time.

  • Very high doses of zinc supplements can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and regulate magnesium.


All content of this blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this blog.


Affiliate disclaimer: *Heads up: My posts may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links, you won't pay a penny more, but I earn a small commission that helps keep the lights on!


Kelly Sherman, MS, NC, CGP, CPT, is a licensed nutritionist specializing in empowering women to reclaim their health by cutting through misinformation and ditching the diet culture. She has a master’s degree in nutrition and is degreed in exercise science as well as a certified personal trainer. With over 20 years of experience in the field, she combines the best of both nutrition and exercise sciences to best help her clients reach their potential. To nourish is to flourish!

Kelly Sherman, MS, NC, CGP, CPT, is a licensed nutritionist specializing in empowering women to reclaim their health by cutting through misinformation and ditching the diet culture. She has a master’s degree in nutrition and is degreed in exercise science as well as a certified personal trainer. With over 20 years of experience in the field, she combines the best of both nutrition and exercise sciences to best help her clients reach their potential. To nourish is to flourish!


References

  1. Abbasi, B., Kimiagar, M., Sadeghniiat, K., Shirazi, M. M., Hedayati, M., & Rashidkhani, B. (2012, December). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3703169/

  2. Champagne CM. Dietary interventions on blood pressure: the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) trials. Nutr Rev 2006;64:S53-6. [PubMed abstract]

  3. Dickinson HO, Nicolson D, Campbell F, Cook JV, Beyer FR, Ford GA, Mason J. Magnesium supplementation for the management of primary hypertension in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006: CD004640. [PubMed abstract]

  4. Kass L, Weekes J, Carpenter L. Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr 2012;66:411-8. [PubMed abstract]

  5. Larsson SC, Wolk A. Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. J Intern Med 2007;262:208-14. [PubMed abstract]

  6. Rodriguez-Moran M, Simental Mendia LE, Zambrano Galvan G, Guerrero-Romero F. The role of magnesium in type 2 diabetes: a brief based-clinical review. Magnes Res 2011;24:156-62. [PubMed abstract]

  7. Rude RK. Magnesium. In: Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, Tucker KL, Ziegler TR, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 11th ed. Baltimore, Mass: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:159-75.

  8. Rude RK, Singer FR, Gruber HE. Skeletal and hormonal effects of magnesium deficiency. J Am Coll Nutr 2009;28:131–41. [PubMed abstract]

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