From regulating blood sugar levels to boosting athletic performance, magnesium is crucial for your brain and body. Even though it’s found in a variety of foods ranging from leafy greens to nuts, seeds and beans, many people don’t get enough in their diet.
Here are 12 evidence-based health benefits of magnesium, along with some simple ways to increase your intake.
1. Involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in your body
Magnesium is found throughout your body. In fact, every cell in your body contains this mineral and needs it in order to function.
About 60% of the magnesium in your body occurs in bone, while the rest is in muscles, soft tissues and fluids, including blood
One of its main roles is to act as a cofactor — a helper molecule — in the biochemical reactions continuously performed by enzymes. Magnesium supports hundreds of chemical reactions in your body, however, many people get less than they need.
2. May boost exercise performance
During exercise, you need more magnesium than when you’re resting, depending on the activity.
Magnesium helps move blood sugar into your muscles and dispose of lactate, which can build up during exercise and cause fatigue.
Studies show that magnesium supplements may be particularly beneficial for improving exercise performance in older adults and those with a deficiency in this nutrient.
3. May combat depression
Magnesium plays a critical role in brain function and mood, and low levels of it are linked to an increased risk of depression.
In fact, an analysis of data from more than 8,800 people found that those under age 65 with the lowest magnesium intake had a 22% greater risk of depression.
What’s more, supplementing with this mineral may help reduce symptoms of depression. In one small 8-week study, taking 500 mg of magnesium daily led to significant improvements in symptoms of depression in people with a deficiency in this mineral.
Plus, a 6-week study in 126 people showed that taking 248 mg of magnesium per day decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety, regardless of magnesium status.
4. May support healthy blood sugar levels
Studies suggest that about 48% of people with type 2 diabetes have low blood levels of magnesium, which may impair the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels effectively.
Additionally, research indicates that people who consume more magnesium have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
According to one review, magnesium supplements help enhance insulin sensitivity, a key factor involved in blood sugar control.
5. May promote heart health
Magnesium plays an important role in keeping your heart healthy and strong.
In fact, studies show that magnesium supplements can help lower high blood pressure levels, which may be a risk factor for heart disease.
What’s more, one review found that magnesium supplements improved multiple risk factors for heart disease, including triglyceride, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, and systolic blood pressure levels, especially in people with a magnesium deficiency.
blood pressure levels, especially in people with a magnesium deficiency.
6. Boasts anti-inflammatory benefits
Low magnesium intake is linked to increased levels of inflammation, which plays a key role in aging and chronic diseases.
Magnesium has been shown to help fight inflammation by reducing markers such as CRP and interleukin-6.
7. May help prevent migraine attacks
Migraine headaches can be painful and often cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise.
Some researchers believe that people with migraine are more likely than others to have a magnesium deficiency.
People with migraine may have low magnesium levels. Some studies show that supplementing with this mineral may provide relief from migraine attacks.
8. May improve PMS symptoms
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is one of the most common conditions in female-bodied people of childbearing age. It often causes symptoms such as water retention, abdominal cramps, tiredness, and irritability.
Some research suggests that magnesium supplements help relieve PMS symptoms, as well as other conditions such as menstrual cramps and migraine attacks.
This may be because magnesium levels fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle, which may worsen PMS symptoms in those who have a deficiency. Therefore, supplements may help reduce the severity of symptoms, including menstrual migraine attacks.
In fact, one older study found that taking 250 mg of magnesium per day helped decrease bloating, depression, and anxiety in 126 women with PMS compared with a control group.
9. May promote bone health
Magnesium is crucial for maintaining bone health and protecting against bone loss. In fact, 50–60% of your body’s magnesium is found in your bones.
Some studies associate lower levels of this mineral with a higher risk of osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become brittle and weak.
A 3-year study in 358 people undergoing hemodialysis — a treatment to help remove waste and water from the blood — showed that those who consumed the least magnesium experienced 3 times more fractures than those with the highest intake.
10. May support better sleep
Magnesium supplements are often used as a natural remedy for sleep issues such as insomnia.
This is because magnesium regulates several neurotransmitters involved in sleep, such as gamma aminobutyric acid.
Increasing your intake of magnesium through foods or supplements may help treat certain sleep issues and improve sleep quality.
11. May help reduce anxiety symptoms
Some research suggests that magnesium helps treat and prevent anxiety. Magnesium may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and decrease stress.
For example, one study in 3,172 adults associated increased magnesium intake with a lower risk of depression and anxiety.
Other research suggests that magnesium deficiency may increase your body’s susceptibility to stress, which may amplify symptoms of anxiety.
12. Safe and widely available
Magnesium is essential for many aspects of health. The recommended daily intake is 400–420 mg per day for men and 310–320 mg per day for women.
You can get this mineral from both food and supplements.
The following foods are rich in magnesium
- Pumpkin seeds: 37% of the DV per ounce (28 grams)
- Chia seeds: 26% of the DV per ounce (28 grams)
- Spinach, boiled: 19% of the DV per 1/2 cup (90 grams)
- Almonds: 19% of the DV per ounce (28 grams)
- Cashews: 18% of the DV per ounce (28 grams)
- Black beans, cooked: 14% of the DV per 1/2 cup (86 grams)
- Edamame, cooked: 12% of the DV per 1/2 cup (78 grams)
- Peanut butter: 12% of the DV per 2 tablespoons (32 grams)
- Brown rice, cooked: 10% of the DV per 1/2 cup (100 grams)
- Salmon, cooked: 6% of the DV per 3 ounces (85 grams)
- Halibut, cooked: 6% of the DV per 3 ounces (85 grams)
- Avocado: 5% of the DV per 1/2 cup (75 grams)
If you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before taking magnesium supplements. Though these supplements are generally well tolerated, they may be unsafe for people who take certain diuretics, heart medications, or antibiotics.
Magnesium is essential for maintaining good health and plays a key role in everything from exercise performance to heart health and brain function.
Enjoying a variety of magnesium-rich foods may ensure that you’re getting enough of this important nutrient in your diet. Spinach, chia seeds, peanut butter, and avocados are a few examples that make great additions to smoothies, snacks and other dishes.
Alternatively, you can try supplementing or using a multivitamin to help fill any gaps in your diet.
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- Magnesium Taurate
- Magnesium Malate
- Magnesium Glycerinate
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