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Magnesium: Everything you need to know!

Time for a quiz. What is abundant in our bodies, in the chard vegetables at your favorite sushi restaurant, and in the earth’s crust?


This healthy mineral powerhouse is responsible for over 600 bodily reactions and accompanies more than 300 enzymes in our bodies.

Research has shown that about two-thirds of the Western world do not consume the recommended amount of magnesium for their height, weight, and age – a disturbing statistic considering all that magnesium does for our bodies, minds, and overall health.

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is an important mineral, similar to calcium, chloride, sodium and potassium. Important minerals are abundant in our bodies and are needed in large quantities for us to function. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, with an adult’s body containing about 25 grams of it.

Most of our magnesium supply – about 50-60 percent – is in our bones, and the rest is in our organ cells and various tissues. It is vital to the biochemical reactions that make everything from our nerves to our hearts work.

What are the health benefits of magnesium?

“What are they not?” would be the easier question! Magnesium plays a role in hundreds of daily reactions and processes in our bodies. It is a leading co-factor for over 300 enzyme systems that support and regulate biochemical reactions in the body. These reactions include:

  • Protein synthesis
  • Function of muscles and nerves
  • Blood sugar level
  • Blood pressure control
  • Power generation
  • DNA and RNA conservation
  • And much, much more.

Because magnesium is essential for a well-functioning body, we miss out on many potential health benefits if we don’t consume enough of it, including

Healthier blood sugar.

Low magnesium levels can prevent insulin from properly regulating blood sugar, which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. A 2010 study found that people with the highest magnesium intake had a 47 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes over a 20-year period.

Less depression.

Magnesium is important for the health of the brain. A 2015 study found that people with the lowest magnesium levels had a 22 percent higher risk of developing depression.

Healthier blood pressure.

Research shows that magnesium supplements can have a positive effect on blood pressure in people with high blood pressure (but it does not appear to have an effect in people with normal blood pressure).

Better sleep.

Magnesium can increase levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, which may contribute to better sleep. Research on humans shows that magnesium levels have a direct impact on sleep quality.

Support for muscle cramps.

Many people swear by magnesium as a remedy for muscle cramps. While there is still conflicting research on the effectiveness of magnesium in this area, a 2002 study found that taking 300 mg of magnesium per day for six weeks resulted in fewer muscle cramps.

Improved physical and muscular performance. Magnesium can help keep your muscles from getting tired and sore during exercise, which can help you perform better (see below).

How does magnesium affect physical activity?

Magnesium is a major electrolyte (along with chloride, potassium, calcium and sodium) and regulates the acid-base balance in your body. It also plays an important role in muscle contraction, regulation of heartbeat and endurance.

Studies have shown that magnesium requirements increase by 10 to 20 percent due to fluid loss during vigorous exercise. If you take plenty of magnesium before and after exercise, it can help your body get rid of lactic acid, an organic acid that accumulates in muscles during exercise and causes fatigue and muscle soreness. For this reason, numerous studies show that taking magnesium supplements can improve athletic performance.

Balanced electrolyte intake is critical for optimal performance in sports, and this includes adequate magnesium intake. If you drink too much water without replenishing your electrolyte balance, it can actually be dangerous! Without adequate magnesium levels, strenuous exercise is more likely to increase oxidative stress and lead to injury.

What are the different types of magnesium?

There are many different types of magnesium in foods and supplements, and it is important to know the benefits of some forms of magnesium over others.

Magnesium glycinate is formed with an amino acid called glycine, which is used to support healthy inflammation and sleep. Some research shows that magnesium glycinate may have promising effects on anxiety, depression, and stress due to its calming properties. It is also easily digestible.

Some forms of magnesium have a strong laxative effect (such as magnesium citrate). However, magnesium malate is gentler on the system and still supports the body’s daily functions.

How do I get enough magnesium?

The amount of magnesium your body needs per day varies depending on age and gender. However, most adults should consume between 310 and 420 mg. Magnesium is found in foods such as avocados, nuts, legumes, seeds, leafy vegetables, bananas, fatty fish and dark chocolate.

With health conditions such as celiac disease, dairy intolerances, type 2 diabetes and others, it can be difficult to get an adequate amount of magnesium from food. Dietary supplements, blends and medications to support magnesium intake can additionally and safely increase daily intake.

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