Magnesium is an essential mineral that’s vital to the body’s function. It helps keep the heart rhythm steady, bones strong, blood pressure normal, and boosting the immune system. An adult’s body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, of which 50% is stored in the skeletal system. The rest is stored in bodily fluids, soft tissues, and muscle.
Most people in the United States don’t get sufficient magnesium, although signs of deficiency are rare in otherwise healthy people.[i]
Doctors associated magnesium deficiency with different health complications. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you get your daily recommended allowance of magnesium. Cashew nuts, spinach, and almonds are some of the foods that contain high amounts of magnesium. If you cannot get sufficient magnesium through the diet, the doctor might recommend supplements.
Magnesium is an essential macrominerals. Macrominerals are minerals, which people need to eat in large amounts, at least 100 mg every day. Microminerals like zinc and iron are also important, but people need these in smaller quantities.
Magnesium is essential for numerous bodily functions. Taking sufficient magnesium might help treat or prevent chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and migraine. Other health benefits include:
Although many studies focusing on bone health prioritize calcium, magnesium is vital for the formation of healthy bones. A 2013 study showed that magnesium helps with improved bone crystal formation, higher bone density, and reduced risks of osteoporosis.[vii] Magnesium might improve bone health as it helps control vitamin D and calcium levels.
Studies have associated high magnesium diets with reduced risks of type II diabetes. This might be because magnesium plays an essential role in insulin metabolism and glucose control.
A 2015 study found that many diabetic people have low levels of magnesium. The study found that magnesium might play a major role in the management of diabetes.[viii] Magnesium deficiency might worsen resistance to insulin, a condition that develops before type II diabetes.
Promotes Heart Health
The body needs enough magnesium to maintain muscle health, including the heart. Studies show that magnesium plays a major role in promoting heart health.
A 2018 study showed that magnesium deficiency might increase an individual’s risk of heart problems. This is partly because of magnesium’s roles at the cellular level. Researchers observed that magnesium deficiency is very common among individuals with congestive heart failure.[ix]
Magnesium supplements might help relieve or prevent headaches. Magnesium deficiency might affect neurotransmitters and eventually restrict constriction of blood vessels, which are the main factors linked to migraine.
Also known as hypomagnesemia, magnesium deficiency is a health problem that’s often overlooked. Although only less than 2% of Americans have magnesium deficiency, a study shows that about 75% of Americans are not meeting their recommended daily allowance.[ii] The most common signs of magnesium deficiency include:
Muscle Cramps And Twitches
Muscle cramps, tremors, and twitches are symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Severe magnesium deficiency might even cause convulsions or seizures.[iii] Nevertheless, magnesium supplements are not likely to reduce these signs in people who are not deficient or in older adults.
Mental Health Disorders
Mental health disorders is another consequence of lacking enough magnesium. These might include apathy that’s characterized by lack of emotion or mental numbness. Worsened deficiency might even result in a coma or delirium.[iv] Furthermore, observational studies have associated magnesium deficiency with depression.[v]
Osteoporosis is an illness characterized by increased risks of bone fractures and weak bones. Different factors influence risks of developing osteoporosis, including poor dietary intake of vitamins K and D, lack of exercise, and aging.[vi]
Muscle Weakness And Fatigue
Fatigue, a common condition characterized by mental or physical exhaustion or physical weakness, is a sign of magnesium deficiency. However, since these are common in everyone, they aren’t specific signs of magnesium deficiency unless accompanied by other signs.
Possible Side effects
Magnesium supplements are considered safe, but you should always check with your doctor before you start taking them – particularly if you have an underlying health condition.
The mineral supplement might not be safe for some people who take antibiotics, heart medications, or certain diuretics. Many people taking magnesium supplements do not experience any side effects but might experience gut-related issues like vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea – particularly in large doses.[x]
It’s also important to note that many people with kidney issues seem to be at higher risks of experiencing adverse effects related to such supplements.
Although it’s always important to get enough amounts of magnesium, you should be aware of the fact that taking excess magnesium supplements and over the counter antacids and laxatives might cause high levels of magnesium, which might lead to slowed breathing, muscle weakness, drowsiness, low blood pressure, and even death.
People suffering from kidney disease shouldn’t take magnesium supplements without a doctor’s supervision. This is because magnesium can interact with other medications, including antidiabetes and blood-thinning drugs, and should be taken about 3 hours apart from other medications, including certain antibiotics and statin drugs.[xi] Topical magnesium products like oils, sprays, and magnesium creams can also cause skin irritation.
Dosage And Preparation
Magnesium supplements are available as powders, capsules, and tablets with doses that range from 200 mg to 500mg. These supplements help meet your recommended daily intake of magnesium, as indicated by the ODS (Office of Dietary Supplements).
If you take more than 350 milligrams of magnesium every day, it’s recommended that you do this under a doctor’s supervision. Keep in mind that magnesium toxicity is uncommon, but higher doses are likely to cause dizziness, vomiting, and nausea.
Ways To Get Your Magnesium
Magnesium is an important mineral that the body needs to stay healthy. Magnesium is found in many foods like milk products, leafy green vegetables, and nuts. Supplementing with this essential nutrient has been associated with many health benefits. It’s recommended that you get magnesium from foods because they are generally nutritious and healthy.
Foods Rich In Magnesium
Following are healthy foods that are high in magnesium:
- Dark Chocolate – Dark chocolate is delicious and healthy. One ounce of dark chocolate contains 64 mg of magnesium, about 16% of the RDA. It’s also beneficial for heart and gut health.
- Avocados – A middle-sized avocado has 15% of the RDA for magnesium. Also, avocados improve cholesterol levels, fight inflammation and increase fullness.
- Nuts – Brazil nuts, almonds, and cashews contain high amounts of magnesium. Cashew offers 20% of the RDA.
- Legumes – Legumes are high in magnesium. One cup of black beans has 30% of the RDA.
- Tofu – A tofu serving offers 13% of the RDA.
- Seeds – Many seeds are high in magnesium. One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 37% of RDA.
- Whole Grains – Whole grains contain many nutrients. For instance, 1 ounce of dry buckwheat offers 16% of the RDA.
- Some Fatty Fish – Fatty fish is very nutritious and an incredible source of magnesium as well as other valuable nutrients. ½ a fillet of salmon has 13% of RDA.
- Bananas – Bananas are a great source of numerous nutrients. One banana contains 9% of the RDA.
- Leafy Greens – Leafy greens are a great source of magnesium. One cup of cooked spinach offers 39% of the RDA.
Magnesium supplements are readily available in drug stores, online, and pharmacies, but it’s best to get any mineral or vitamin through diet because minerals work better if you combine them with other minerals.
Many phytonutrients, minerals, and vitamins work synergistically. This means taking them together brings more health benefits than taking each at a time.
So, it’s better to focus on a balanced diet to meet the recommended daily allowance for magnesium and use the supplements as a backup. There are different forms of magnesium supplements available today. These include magnesium gluconate, magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, magnesium aspartate, magnesium hydroxide, and magnesium glycine and magnesium chloride.
What Is The Main Benefit Of Magnesium?
What food is high in magnesium?
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- [ii] Guerrera MP, Volpe SL, Mao JJ. Therapeutic uses of magnesium. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Jul 15;80(2):157-62. PMID: 19621856.
- [iii] VALLEE BL, WACKER WE, ULMER DD. The magnesium-deficiency tetany syndrome in man. N Engl J Med. 1960 Jan 28;262:155-61. doi: 10.1056/NEJM196001282620401. PMID: 13840893.
- [iv] Pham PC, Pham PA, Pham SV, Pham PT, Pham PM, Pham PT. Hypomagnesemia: a clinical perspective. Int J Nephrol Renovasc Dis. 2014 Jun 9;7:219-30. doi: 10.2147/IJNRD.S42054. PMID: 24966690; PMCID: PMC4062555
- [v] Cheungpasitporn W, Thongprayoon C, Mao MA, Srivali N, Ungprasert P, Varothai N, Sanguankeo A, Kittanamongkolchai W, Erickson SB. Hypomagnesaemia linked to depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Intern Med J. 2015 Apr;45(4):436-40. doi: 10.1111/imj.12682. PMID: 25827510.
- [vi] Castiglioni S, Cazzaniga A, Albisetti W, Maier JA. Magnesium and osteoporosis: current state of knowledge and future research directions. Nutrients. 2013 Jul 31;5(8):3022-33. doi: 10.3390/nu5083022. PMID: 23912329; PMCID: PMC3775240
- [vii] Castiglioni, S., Cazzaniga, A., Albisetti, W., & Maier, J. A. (2013). Magnesium and osteoporosis: current state of knowledge and future research directions. Nutrients, 5(8), 3022–3033.
- [viii]Barbagallo, M., & Dominguez, L. J. (2015). Magnesium and type 2 diabetes. World journal of diabetes, 6(10), 1152–1157.
- [ix] DiNicolantonio JJ, Liu J, O’Keefe JH Magnesium for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease Open Heart 2018;5:e000775. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2018-000775
- [x] Kass LS, Poeira F. The effect of acute vs chronic magnesium supplementation on exercise and recovery on resistance exercise, blood pressure and total peripheral resistance on normotensive adults. J Int Soc Sports Nut. 2015;12:19. doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0081-z
- [xi] Morais JBS, Severo JS, de Alencar GRR, et al. Effect of magnesium supplementation on insulin resistance in humans: A systematic review. Nutrition. 2017 Jun;38:54-60. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2017.01.009