Why do we need magnesium?
- Needed for hundreds of body processes
- muscle contractions
- nerve transmission
- heart function
- immune system health
- maintain fluid balance
- energy production
The Benefits of Magnesium
Milk has calcium and phosphorus which are both important. Though bones do not form well unless magnesium (and vitamin D) is present with those two. Vitamin D puts calcium into the bones. Without it, calcium accumulates elsewhere (think arteries). How do we get vitamin D ready to put calcium into bones? We need magnesium’s help. Magnesium helps Vitamin D activate calcium to work in the body. These two work together and often times, people are low in vitamin D as well. Read my post on Vitamin D to find out why it’s important.
Low magnesium = Low vitamin D = less calcium used = less bone health (rigid, breakable, slow-healing bones)
Magnesium is needed to make a particular enzyme (glutathione) that detoxifies our body of heavy metals (think of mercury). These heavy metals are able to get into the brain and cause neurological issues such as poor memory. If magnesium is present, it can beat out and take its place in the brain to actually help with processes rather than the metals ruining everything. Which brings me to the next point..
Helps Us Sleep & Improves Mood
Magnesium is needed for certain receptors in the brain that allow us a restful sleep (GABA). It also allows happy neurotransmitters to be released such as serotonin. Serotonin increase happens to be the goal of antidepressants, by the way. With all these special neurotransmitters being activated through magnesium, it can help with anxiety, insomnia, and attention disorders.
Prevents Muscle Spasms
Magnesium works with calcium channels and relaxation (mentioned above) in the cell so it is not quite so active and less nerve conduction and excitability occurs (spasm). Muscle spasms are not just the kind you get from leg day. Magnesium is used in every cell and muscle in the body. The brain and the heart have the highest concentrations of magnesium in the body, so you can gather that would not be ideal to be low. If it is continually low over time, it may result in “spasms” or irregular firing of muscle fibers. This includes high blood pressure, painful menstrual cramping, migraine headaches, and asthma symptoms.
Signs you may not be getting enough magnesium
The changes in our soil allow less magnesium to get into our produce and food products. The overabundance of calcium consumption without magnesium will also cause deficiency. The inability to absorb it due to other poor quality foods being consumed (sugar) may also contribute. Here are common signs of magnesium deficiency (these can also be caused by other things):
- Loss of appetite
- Tooth decay
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty sleeping
- Fatigue (tired all the time)
How can you make sure you get enough magnesium?
Just eat healthy foods and include the ones listed (they also have numerous other vitamins and minerals!). See foods below for examples.
Sources of magnesium
- Dark leafy greens
- Dark Chocolate
- Black beans
- Magnesium citrate is the best choice as it is the most available for absorption and most common
- Magnesium oxide and magnesium chloride are more common to report GI side effects (running to the bathroom)
- The evidence is slim on applying magnesium on skin for absorption.
Fresh Idea: The benefits of magnesium are numerous to improve health. Ensure you get enough from food or safe supplementing.