Magnesium is an essential mineral for the body. The latter is not able to synthesize or produce it. We must therefore consume it through our diet and possibly supplementation.
It promotes and participates in more than three hundred different metabolic reactions. It plays a major role in bone and teeth health along with calcium and phosphorus. Indeed, about half of our reserves of magnesium are located in teeth and bones. Let’s take a look at the main health benefits of magnesium.
Main health benefits of magnesium
As it is involved in more than three hundred metabolic reactions in the body, magnesium is considered essential for humans. In general, it can be attributed some key roles such as nerve transmission, muscle relaxation, or the regulation of cardiac function. These benefits are the reason why it is often recommended to consume them as a dietary supplement.
1. Needed for bone building and health
As already mentioned, magnesium is essential for the proper functioning of the human body. Like calcium and phosphorus, it is involved in the formation of teeth and bones, as well as in maintaining their strength. It is for this reason that almost half of the magnesium in our body is found in our bones and teeth. Its role in bone health is essential for preventing and relieving osteoporosis.
2. An excellent muscle relaxant
Magnesium allows normal muscle contraction. This means that a lack of magnesium exposes the muscles to unpleasant reactions, such as spasms, cramps, or tetany. It prevents spasmophilia thanks to a sedative action and limits pain caused by spasms, especially during the premenstrual period.
It also helps to limit and reduce cramps. This effect is also highly sought after in pregnant women. Indeed, during pregnancy, pregnant women are often prone to leg cramps. Magnesium would reduce their frequency and intensity.
Furthermore, many athletes, prone to cramps, consume magnesium supplements.
In addition, the results of two preliminary studies show that supplementation with magnesium can relieve pain caused by fibromyalgia. This effect would be amplified by an association between magnesium and malic acid.
3. Good for the heart
Several studies have already shown the beneficial effects of this trace element on heart and cardiovascular health. Indeed, there is a link between the level of magnesium in the blood and the risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease, as shown by this epidemiological study.
A chronic lack of magnesium results in an increased cardiovascular risk, and in particular in terms of hypertension, stroke, and coronary heart disease.
In addition, it seems that magnesium could also reduce the incidence of atrial fibrillation, which is a common disorder of the heart rhythm. People with hypertension can supplement magnesium to lower their blood pressure.
Still, in terms of heart health, magnesium helps prevent atherosclerosis, since it reduces intestinal absorption of lipids at mealtime. Likewise, it increases HDL cholesterol levels.
4. Positive effects on diabetes
There is a link between nutritional intake of magnesium and the incidence of type 2 diabetes, according to various epidemiological studies. Magnesium has a regulatory power on blood sugar levels and therefore helps prevent type 2 diabetes. In fact, a reduction in the level of magnesium in the blood is called hypomagnesemia. This tends to increase the body’s resistance to insulin, a precursor to this form of diabetes.
Furthermore, a magnesium deficiency is often associated with various complications of type 2 diabetes, such as foot ulcers or neuropathy.
5. Fights inflammation
Magnesium could also be used for its anti-inflammatory action. Several studies have shown that magnesium supplementation in people with chronic inflammation results in a reduction in the level of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation.
In addition, magnesium is necessary for the synthesis of prostaglandins from essential fatty acids (omega 3, 6, 9). Prostaglandins are compounds that participate in the modulation of the inflammatory reaction.
Finally, magnesium helps regulate the concentration of calcium, the excess, and accumulation of which in the body promotes inflammation.
6. An ally to combat stress, anxiety, and irritability
Due to its effects on muscle relaxation, magnesium would also be beneficial against tension, stress, and anxiety. It acts on the nervous system, and in particular on the release of serotonin, which it stimulates. The latter is a very important soothing and anti-stress neurotransmitter.
Good magnesium intake will help limit irritability and stress, as shown by several studies on the subject. They will also promote better quality sleep. It is mainly for these reasons that magnesium is often recommended in case of fatigue and irritability.
7. Prevent premenstrual syndrome and associated pain
People who suffer from PMS have a lower magnesium to calcium ratio than those who don’t. Researchers believe that this imbalance acts on premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and may promote the mood swings associated with it.
8. Prevents migraine
Migraine attacks are painful and debilitating. Nausea, vomiting, and hypersensitivity to light and sound may occur. Some researchers believe that people with migraines are more likely to be deficient in magnesium than others. Several studies have shown that magnesium can even prevent and cure migraines.
One study even found that 1 gram of magnesium provided faster and better migraine relief than regular medication. In addition, magnesium-rich foods can reduce the symptoms of migraines.
9. May increase sports performance
Magnesium is also important for athletic performance. Depending on the activity, you may require 10-20% more magnesium during exercise than you would at rest. Magnesium aids in the delivery of blood sugar to the muscles as well as the removal of lactic acid, which can accumulate during exercise and cause muscle discomfort.
Magnesium supplements have been proven in studies to improve the athletic performance of athletes, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses.
Volleyball players who took 250 mg of magnesium improved their leaping and arm motions in one research.
Another study found that four weeks of magnesium supplementation improved sprint, cycling, and swimming performance in triathletes.
10. Prevent kidney stones
As it increases the solubility of calcium and more especially in the urine, magnesium could have a preventive effect on kidney stones. In addition, it decreases the absorption of oxalate in the intestines. This substance participates in the formation of kidney stones.
11. Improves motor functions in premature infants
Magnesium also has a role in the neuroprotection of babies. Indeed, several analyzes have shown that taking prenatal magnesium can preserve and improve motor functions in premature infants.
Other benefits of magnesium for the body
Among the hundreds of roles magnesium plays in the body, we can mention the prevention of metabolic diseases. In addition, it is important to remember that magnesium influences the quality of nerve impulses and the contraction of the heart.
Finally, magnesium also plays many other roles, in particular on asthma, fibromyalgia, attention deficit disorders, etc.… It also acts positively on our memory. To assimilate it well, sufficient intakes of vitamin B6 are necessary.
Foods rich in magnesium
The western diet often lacks essential nutrients. It doesn’t always give us the essential nutrients the body needs to function properly. However, by adopting good eating habits, it is possible to remedy the problem.
Magnesium intake is no different. Some foods are indeed much richer in magnesium than others. Consuming them regularly allows us to bring magnesium to your body and above all, in sufficient quantity.
Magnesium is found in large quantities in these few specific foods:
- Dark chocolate
- White, black, and lima beans
- Almonds, cashews, and nuts
- Pumpkin or squash seeds
- Cereals (wheat, rice, maize, oat, barley, rye, millet, and sorghum).
- Lentils and split peas
- Beet leaves
- Wheat germ
Some mineral waters present in stores are also enriched (naturally or not) with magnesium. Do not hesitate to compare their nutritional values.
Video Summary – Health Benefits of Magnesium
Along with potassium, sodium, and calcium, magnesium is among the most abundant minerals in the human body. Indeed, magnesium is involved in a large number of cellular and metabolic reactions and physiological functions which participate in the proper functioning of the body. Different factors can cause a deficiency and, consequently, health problems. It’s important to intake a sufficient quantity of magnesium through foods and supplements to avoid such complications.
Nate has worked as a nutritionist for over 14 years. He holds a Master’s Degree in dietetics from the University of Texas. His passions include working out, traveling and podcasting.