Magnesium is a mineral found in grains, vegetables, nuts, dairy products, and meat. Our body needs magnesium for, among other things, bone building and optimal muscle function.

What is magnesium used for?

  • Magnesium contributes to the activity of a large number of enzymes, substances essential for chemical reactions in the body.
  • It improves athletic performance, although research results vary a lot on this issue.
  • It plays an essential role in brain function and mood. Low levels of magnesium, for example, increase the risk of depression, anxiety and stress.
  • People with the highest levels of magnesium have a lower risk of developing diabetes (type 2). Additionally, magnesium supplements have been shown to sometimes lower blood sugar.
  • In high blood pressure, magnesium helps control blood pressure (but it does not have the same effect in normal blood pressure).
  • It helps to treat inflammations.
  • It can help prevent migraine attacks in people with deficiency.
  • It helps relieve premenstrual syndrome.

How to recognize a magnesium deficiency?

  • Tiredness
  • Lack of energy
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps
  • In exceptional cases: cardiac arrhythmia

Magnesium deficiency cannot be determined by a blood test because it contains only 1% of the total amount of magnesium in our body. Thus, 50% is found in bones and teeth, the rest in cells, muscles, organs and nervous tissues.

How to recognize an excess of magnesium?

A person who takes more than 250 milligrams of magnesium per day as a supplement (in addition to the amount of magnesium consumed with food) may experience diarrhea. Nausea and gastrointestinal problems are also symptoms. An overdose of magnesium can lead to kidney problems, extremely low blood pressure, depression, or cardiac arrest.

When to take a magnesium supplement

A healthy and varied diet ensures the necessary intake of magnesium. However, those whose diet is not optimal may consider taking a supplement. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist first, as this may affect the effect of a series of medicines (such as certain types of antibiotics). If you regularly consume antacids or magnesium laxatives, an extra dose can even be dangerous.

Angie Mahecha

An fitness addict passionate of all things nature and animals, Angie often volunteers her time to NGOs and governmental organizations alike working with animals in general and endangered species in particular. She covers stories on wildlife and the environment for the Scientific Origin.