Magnesium is a vital mineral that our body uses in over 300 of its chemical processes, including the functioning of muscles and the nervous system and the extraction of energy from food. In fact, magnesium provides many other benefits, from better sleep to better mood.
Magnesium deficiency can increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis, making it important to ensure your intake is high enough to support your body. Magnesium overdose is possible, so be sure that if you choose to take the best magnesium supplement that you follow the guidelines, and if you have an underlying condition, we advise that you speak to your doctor first. Eating more magnesium-rich foods is another way to safely increase your levels.
So what are the main benefits of magnesium? Keep reading to find out.
1. It can help sleep
According to Roxana Ehsani (opens in a new tab)nutritionist and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, magnesium regulates sleep-related neurotransmitters, and in studies, people who have trouble falling asleep and who have been supplemented with magnesium have found more easy to fall asleep.
There is also a link between magnesium and restless leg syndrome, with evidence suggesting magnesium supplementation can help alleviate this (mostly) nighttime problem. Ehsani says, “Although future studies need to be conducted, people who suffer from restless leg syndrome may find relief from magnesium supplementation because it is responsible for regulating muscle and nerve function.”
Roxana Ehsani is a Certified Sports Dietitian and National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition, Food and Exercise from Virginia Tech and a Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Pittsburgh. Below, she gives her advice on what to look for in a multivitamin for women.
2. Improves Mood
Magnesium has been linked to improved mood because it helps regulate hormones such as serotonin and melatonin, the “feel good hormone” and “sleep hormone”.
It’s also implicated in our stress response: a 2020 study in Nutrients (opens in a new tab) revealed that chronic stress and anxiety deplete the body’s stores of magnesium, leaving us less equipped to deal with stress. Consuming sufficient amounts of magnesium can help you better manage stress.
3. May Help Relieve Period Pain
Dr Deborah Lee, physician and writer for Dr Fox Online Pharmacy (opens in a new tab), explains that magnesium can help reduce menstrual pain. “There are two reasons why magnesium can reduce menstrual pain,” she says. “First, magnesium is a calcium antagonist and has been shown to reduce uterine muscle contractions. Second, it inhibits the production of the prostaglandin PGF2-alpha. Women with the greatest degree of pain relief during of magnesium intake were found to have the lowest amount of PGF2 alpha in their menstrual fluid.
A Cochrane (opens in a new tab) A review on the topic found that magnesium supplementation reduced overall menstrual pain, and women taking a magnesium supplement relied less on pain relief during their period, compared to those taking a placebo.
4. Supports Bone Health
Ehsani says magnesium can help keep our skeletons healthy. “Magnesium is a major component of bone, and the majority of the body’s magnesium is stored in bone,” she says. “Consuming a diet rich in magnesium is important and studies have shown that it leads to greater bone mineral density.”
A 2021 review in Nutrients (opens in a new tab) journal links magnesium deficiency to bone fragility in the elderly, as well as other age-related conditions. Another review in Biometals (opens in a new tab) confirmed a causal relationship between magnesium intake and the maintenance of normal bone density.
5. It’s good for cardiovascular health
Adequate magnesium intake has been linked to lower blood pressure and a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, as shown in an article from the Journal of Clinical Hypertension (opens in a new tab). The article indicates that an intake of 500 mg to 1000 mg of magnesium (which is higher than the recommended 300 mg to 500 mg RDA), combined with a reduced intake of potassium and sodium, could lead to a reduction in arterial pressure.
“Magnesium supports endothelial function,” says Lee. “Endothelium are the cells that line the walls of blood vessels. Directly and indirectly, it initiates both vasodilation and vasoconstriction, lowers blood pressure, reduces risk of cardiac arrhythmia, improves insulin resistance , prevents platelet aggregation and has an anti-thrombotic effect,” she says.
She adds: “It may also improve exercise tolerance in people with stable coronary artery disease. Adding magnesium to drinking water has been calculated to reduce mortality by 30-35%. low levels of magnesium are associated with accelerated atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries.
6. May Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
A Randomized Controlled Trial of Diabetes and Metabolism (opens in a new tab) indicates that magnesium supplementation may help improve glycemic status in prediabetic patients. In the study, 113 participants between the ages of 30 and 65 with hypomagnesemia and prediabetes were given the equivalent of 382 mg of magnesium or a placebo.
Lee says there is growing evidence that magnesium supplementation may reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. “Several studies have demonstrated an inverse relationship between dietary magnesium intake and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. type 2 diabetes,” she says. “Type 2 diabetes has been noted to be more common in people with low serum magnesium. Although the exact reasons for this are not known, magnesium is a vital cofactor for many biochemical reactions involved in the carbohydrate metabolism.
7. May Help With Headaches
Lee says magnesium deficiency may play a critical role in the frequency and severity of migraines and headaches. “The reasons for this are not well understood, but magnesium deficiency can cause platelet clumping, which has been seen in migraine attacks,” she says. “It also disrupts the electrical activity of the cerebral cortex, causing abnormal cortical propagation: this is a depolarized wave of altered brain activity.”
Magnesium concentration is also essential for serotonin receptor function. Low levels of magnesium cause reduced nitric oxide synthesis and affect N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (glutamate receptors), which then cause behavioral changes, such as impaired concentration and of memory.
We’ve looked at the science behind taking magnesium for headaches, for a deep dive into this area.
8. May Help Treat Asthma
Asthma is a complex disease and has been linked to magnesium due to the anti-inflammatory effect magnesium can have on the lungs.
“It causes bronchial dilation and vasodilation and is sometimes given intravenously, to treat severe or life-threatening asthma,” says Lee. “In a 2014 Cochrane review (opens in a new tab) Reviewing the data, which included 14 randomized controlled trials and 2313 patients seen in the emergency department with acute asthma, intravenous magnesium was found to reduce the risk of hospitalization and was associated with improved lung function tests.
9. May Help With Seizures
Due to the intimate relationship between magnesium and nerve function, there is potential for the use of magnesium in treating or reducing the incidence of seizures. “Very low levels of magnesium have been shown to cause typical ‘grand mal’ seizures.
in children and adults,” says Lee. “During pregnancy, magnesium is often the drug of first choice in women with pre-eclampsia to prevent eclamptic seizures. Magnesium may be effective for seizures because it inhibits NMDA glutamate receptors and thus prevents cortical spread.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer medical advice.