Top 10 Surprising Magnesium Benefits
Magnesium benefits the body as much, if not more, than any other nutrient you can name. Magnesium is to the human body what oil is to a car. You absolutely need it if you expect to have an efficiently running body! The only difference is, you need to top your magnesium stores more often than you are getting your oil changed. You should be making sure that you are getting adequate magnesium into your body every day. To highlight its importance, here are the top 10 magnesium benefits for the human body.
Magnesium benefits over 300 different physiological processes and is required for the proper function of almost every cell in the body. At the same time, a vast proportion of our society is deficient. Although a nutrition plan that accounts for a diverse set of nutrients is key for optimal health, if there was one nutrient that could make a drastic impact on your wellbeing, magnesium may just be it.
Signs Of Magnesium Deficiency
According to American neurosurgeon Norman Shealy, MD, PhD, almost every known disease is associated with a magnesium deficiency. Because magnesium plays so many roles in the body, symptoms of deficiency can be diverse.
The common things I notice with magnesium deficient patients is that they report higher levels of stress and anxiety along with an inability to fall asleep at night. On top of that is usually impaired mental function in relation to memory and brain fog.
Other Common Symptoms Of Magnesium Deficiency Are:
- Chronic Headaches/Migraines
- Muscle Spasms
- Heart Arrhythmias
- Mood Disorders
- ADD/ADHD symptoms
Improves Sleep Quality
Glutamate is converted with the help of Vitamin B6 and magnesium into the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. GABA is a chemical in the brain that is responsible for putting on the mental breaks and helping you relax. Having a healthy production of GABA is critical for getting a good night of sleep.
Although you need adequate amounts of amino acids and vitamin B6 as well, I often find that magnesium makes the biggest difference in helping people overcome their insomnia or improve sleep in general. This is arguably the most important of all the magnesium benefits.
In relation to the same mechanism I talked about above, magnesium helps you to relax. If you do not have adequate magnesium, you can accumulate excess glutamate in the brain. Glutamate is important for activities that require high energy and intense focus. In excess, glutamate can push you into chronic stress.
By supplying your body with adequate magnesium, you support your body’s ability to convert excess glutamate into GABA to restore your sense of calm. This way you can better balance a hard-charging lifestyle with relaxation.
Improves Mental Performance
Brain fog can be a telltale sign of magnesium deficiency. Efficient brain function relies on proper transmission of signals between junctions called synapses. Magnesium improves mental performance by strengthening these synapses.
At the same time, magnesium improves mitochondrial output of ATP which is how your body makes energy. The brain consumes the highest amount of ATP than any other organ in the body so this is important!
One of the major causes of constipation is poor hydration and mineral imbalance. Magnesium supplementation along with adequate hydration loosens the stools while also relaxing the muscles of the GI tract.
For my patients who have constipation, I recommend 1-4 grams of magnesium threonate in water consumed all at once. Start with 1 or 2 grams and if you do not have a significant bowel movement within an hour or so, you can consume more until you do so.
Improves The Immune System
Ion channels within the cells have been targeted as playing a powerful role in immunity. This is because ion channels in cells are critical for communicating information from cell to cell and throughout the body. The immune system relies on efficient communication of information so that the body can be adaptive to any pathogenic threat that may present itself.
Magnesium, along with calcium and zinc, has been isolated as an important cell ion channel mediator with a significant role in immunity (3). If you are lacking adequate magnesium, your immune system may be operating at a subpar level.
Reduces Muscle Tension
As I talked about in the sections about sleep and stress, magnesium benefits the body by improving nervous system relaxation through the production of GABA. During magnesium deficiency, the nervous system can become hyper-excitable and contribute to tension in the muscles.
Additionally, if you are taking in high amounts of calcium without adequate magnesium, muscles can begin to contract involuntarily. Cases of hypercalcemia can also contribute to significant changes in heart rhythms. Magnesium helps to balance out calcium levels to coordinate muscle contractions and reduce unwanted tension.
Strengthens Bones & Joints
When your body isn’t receiving adequate magnesium to perform daily functions, it begins to draw on its own reserves in the bone. Over time this can contribute to bone loss and achy joints.
Magnesium has also been shown to help regulate Vitamin D levels, which is an important regulator of bone formation in the body. Consequently, adequate magnesium intake has shown to be associated with improvements in bone density (4). This is one of the important magnesium benefits for those at risk of osteoporosis.
Relieves Pain & Headaches
Magnesium supplementation has been shown to reduce the intensity and frequency of migraine headaches. This may be due to its ability to help regulate neurotransmitters and prevent vasoconstriction of blood vessels in the brain.
On top of all this, magnesium is crucial for regulating electrolyte balance. Electrolytes are needed for proper nerve conduction which is how the brain transmits signals within itself and throughout the body. Optimizing nerve transmission within the brain is likely another reason magnesium can relieve pain and headaches.
The prevalence of individuals who claim to feel anxiety on a daily basis has grown significantly over recent years. Anxiety typically manifests due to the perception of unmanageable stress. This can sometimes be due to chemical imbalances in the brain, such as the balance between glutamate and GABA that I have mentioned.
This is why I refer to magnesium as a powerful adaptogenic agent (a substance that helps you adapt to stress). Chronic stress can influence glutamate-GABA balance and lead to the development of anxiety over time. Seeing an improvement in resilience to stress and a reduction in anxiety is one of the common magnesium benefits I see with people.
ATP, as I mentioned in the mental performance section of this article, is the energy molecule for every cell in your body. Optimizing the production of this important molecule has an incredible impact on your overall wellbeing.
Mitochondria are structures within your cells that produce ATP and they require magnesium in order to do so (5). At the same time, because magnesium is needed for so many processes in the body, topping off your magnesium stores just helps everything function a little smoother.
A deficiency can quickly build up stress within the body and drain your ATP, making you feel chronically fatigued. Energy improvements are one of the most common magnesium benefits my clients report to me.
3 Ways To Support Magnesium Levels
Now that you know deficiency signs and health benefits of magnesium, here are some great ways to incorporate this vital mineral into your daily life. You will also want to take steps to control blood sugar and reduce stress as these two of the most common things that drain your magnesium stores.
Magnesium Rich Foods
When it comes to getting nutrients into your body, food should always be the first strategy. Foods that are high in magnesium are dark leafy greens, avocados, pumpkin seeds, sea vegetables, wild-caught fish, grass-fed butter, and sprouts.
Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salts are made of magnesium sulfate. Soaking in an epsom salt bath is an easy and relaxing way to get magnesium into the body. This method is especially helpful for people with digestive disorders as it bypasses the GI tract altogether by absorbing through the skin.
In addition to what can be obtained through the diet, I often recommend supplemental magnesium. This creates tremendous benefit for many of my patients the moment they begin using it.
My favorite form of magnesium is magnesium l-threonate because it is the only form found in studies to easily cross into the brain to exert its effects. This is why I developed Brain Calm Magnesium as it contains a combination of magnesium forms that includes the l-threonate form. I will typically recommend that my patients take 1-2 grams of this magnesium every day as an inexpensive way to top off magnesium stores in the body.
If you are having digestive issues or are wanting to use magnesium for the relief of joint pain, I recommend a topical magnesium. For this, I would suggest this magnesium oil with MSM. If you are also experiencing trouble falling asleep, we have a great topical magnesium with melatonin that many of my patients love!