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What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is found naturally in many foods, can be taken as a supplement, and is a common ingredient in antacids and laxatives. This mineral is essential for over 300 different enzymes that facilitate important chemical reactions in the body, including building proteins and strong bones, as well as regulating blood sugar, blood pressure, and muscle and nerve functions. Additionally, magnesium acts as an electrical conductor that helps muscles contract and ensures a steady heartbeat.
The majority of the magnesium in our body is stored in our bones, while the rest can be found in various tissues throughout the body.
Magnesium and Health
Magnesium is essential for the proper functioning of many parts of the body, including the heart, bones, muscles, and nerves. When there is a magnesium deficiency, these areas may not function properly, leading to health issues. While epidemiological studies suggest that diets rich in magnesium may be associated with lower rates of disease, clinical trials on magnesium supplementation have mixed results in correcting these conditions.
This may be due to the fact that a magnesium-rich diet also tends to be higher in other nutrients that work together in preventing disease, as opposed to a supplement containing only one nutrient. To prevent disease, it’s recommended to consume a daily diet that includes magnesium-rich foods and consult a healthcare provider for magnesium supplementation if a deficiency is detected through blood testing.
Benefits Of Magnesium
Magnesium is an essential macromineral that is required by the body in relatively large amounts, at least 100 milligrams (mg) per day. Along with other microminerals like iron and zinc, magnesium is vital for optimal bodily functions.
Sufficient intake of this mineral can help prevent or treat various chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and migraine. The following sections detail the role of magnesium in the body and its impact on a person’s overall health.
Although calcium is typically the main mineral associated with bone health, magnesium also plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy bones.
Studies conducted in 2013 suggest that sufficient magnesium intake is associated with increased bone density, enhanced bone crystal formation, and a decreased risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
Magnesium can contribute to bone health in both direct and indirect ways. It directly affects bone formation and mineralization, and it also plays a role in regulating calcium and vitamin D levels, which are other essential nutrients for bone health.
Studies have found that there is a correlation between high magnesium diets and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, possibly due to magnesium’s important role in regulating glucose control and insulin metabolism.
According to a 2015 review published in the World Journal of Diabetes, most individuals with diabetes have low magnesium levels, and magnesium may have a role in managing the condition.
Insulin resistance, which frequently occurs before the onset of type 2 diabetes, may be exacerbated by a magnesium deficiency. Conversely, low magnesium levels may be caused by insulin resistance.
Numerous studies have established a link between high magnesium diets and diabetes prevention. Additionally, a 2017 systematic review suggests that taking magnesium supplements can enhance insulin sensitivity in individuals with low magnesium levels.
However, before doctors can confidently use magnesium for glycemic control in people with diabetes, more research is necessary to accumulate evidence.
Magnesium is necessary for maintaining the health of muscles, including the heart. Several studies have established that magnesium plays a critical role in heart health.
A 2018 review revealed that magnesium deficiency can increase an individual’s risk of cardiovascular problems due to its cellular-level functions. The authors observed that magnesium deficiency is prevalent among individuals with congestive heart failure (CHF) and can worsen their clinical outcomes.
Patients who receive magnesium soon after a heart attack have a lower risk of mortality. To reduce the risk of arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm, physicians sometimes use magnesium during CHF treatment.
According to a 2019 meta-analysis, increasing magnesium intake may lower the risk of stroke. The study showed that for every 100 mg per day increase in magnesium, the risk of stroke decreased by 2%.
Although some research suggests that magnesium plays a role in hypertension, the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) states that, based on current research, taking magnesium supplements only slightly reduces blood pressure.
The ODS advocates for a “large, well-designed” study to comprehend magnesium’s role in heart health and the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
The prevention or relief of headaches may be aided by magnesium therapy, according to research. This is because a magnesium deficiency can impact neurotransmitters and restrict blood vessel constriction, both of which are associated with migraines by physicians.
People who suffer from migraines may have lower magnesium levels in their blood and body tissues than others, and their magnesium levels in the brain may be low during a migraine.
A 2017 systematic review found that magnesium therapy may be helpful in preventing migraines. The authors suggested that consuming 600 mg of magnesium citrate seemed to be a safe and effective preventive strategy.
For migraine prevention, the American Migraine Foundation reports that people often use doses of 400-500 mg per day.
It is important to note that the doses that might be effective are likely to be high, and individuals should only use this therapy under the guidance of their physician.
Magnesium may have a role in premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Limited studies, including a 2012 report, propose that taking magnesium supplements in conjunction with vitamin B-6 may enhance PMS symptoms. However, a more recent review from 2019 indicates that the research is mixed, and additional studies are necessary.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, taking magnesium supplements may reduce bloating, mood symptoms, and breast tenderness in PMS.
Magnesium levels may contribute to mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
A 2017 systematic review states that low magnesium levels may be associated with increased anxiety levels. This is partially due to the activity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is a set of three glands that control a person’s response to stress.
However, the review highlights that the quality of evidence is insufficient, and that more high-quality studies are needed to determine the efficacy of magnesium supplements in reducing anxiety.
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