The Benefits of Magnesium for Your Health

Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in overall health and wellbeing. However, most people do not get enough magnesium in their diets. Supplementing with magnesium can provide a variety of benefits.

What is Magnesium and Why Do We Need It?

Magnesium is a mineral that is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. Magnesium helps with:

  • Electrical activity in the heart and brain
  • Energy production
  • Blood sugar control
  • Blood pressure regulation
  • Bone health
  • Sleep
  • Stress management
  • Inflammation

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 310-420 mg per day. However, most people do not meet this recommendation through diet alone. It is estimated that 75% of people do not get enough magnesium.

Why Are People Deficient in Magnesium?

There are several reasons for widespread magnesium deficiency:

  • Depleted levels of magnesium in soil due to modern farming practices
  • Processing of foods reduces magnesium content
  • Overuse of antacids and proton pump inhibitors inhibits absorption
  • Consumption of carbonated beverages interferes with absorption
  • High stress depletes magnesium stores
  • Lack of sleep depletes magnesium
  • High sugar intake requires more magnesium for metabolism
  • Diuretics and caffeine increase magnesium excretion

Signs That You May Be Deficient in Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency can cause various symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Hardening of the arteries
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Constipation

These effects occur gradually over many years. Getting adequate magnesium can help prevent these issues.

Measuring Magnesium Levels

Magnesium blood tests are not very useful because they only measure 1-2% of total body stores. Better methods include:

  • Measuring magnesium content in red blood cells
  • Measuring magnesium excretion in urine
  • Symptoms of deficiency

Since magnesium testing is not readily available, symptoms of deficiency may be the best indicator.

Why Magnesium is Not Recommended More Often

Despite the widespread deficiency, magnesium is not often recommended. Reasons include:

  • Difficulty accurately measuring magnesium levels
  • Lack of large research studies, since there is little profit motive
  • Reliance on pharmaceutical solutions instead of simple minerals

However, many smaller studies do demonstrate clear benefits of optimal magnesium intake.

How Magnesium Improves Heart and Overall Health

Magnesium provides several beneficial effects:

  • Anti-inflammatory effects to prevent artery hardening
  • Vasodilation to improve blood flow
  • Anti-coagulant effects to prevent blood clots
  • Reduces high blood pressure

These mechanisms help enhance delivery of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body and to the heart.

Getting More Magnesium in Your Diet

To increase magnesium intake:

  • Eat magnesium-rich foods like leafy greens, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains
  • Soak in Epsom salt baths, which allow magnesium absorption through skin
  • Apply magnesium oil to skin
  • Take ionic magnesium drops
  • Take magnesium supplements

The RDA for magnesium is 310-420 mg per day. Most multivitamins contain about 100 mg. Additional supplementation up to 400 mg is generally well-tolerated, unless you have kidney dysfunction.

Types of Magnesium Supplements

Some forms of magnesium are better absorbed than others. Magnesium glycinate is a highly bioavailable form that may cause less digestive side effects like diarrhea.

Magnesium oxide and magnesium carbonate are not absorbed as well and are more likely to cause diarrhea when taken in higher doses. Start with lower doses around 100 mg and increase slowly to find your optimal dose.

Is Magnesium Safe?

Magnesium is quite safe at normal supplemental doses of 100-400 mg per day. Higher doses above 1000 mg may cause diarrhea. Individuals with kidney dysfunction should consult their doctor before starting magnesium.

Magnesium is an essential mineral that most people do not get enough of from diet alone. Ensuring optimal magnesium levels through diet, soaking, and supplementation can provide great benefits for heart health, blood pressure, sleep, mood, inflammation and more. Try adding more magnesium-rich foods, Epsom salt baths, or a supplement and see if you notice positive effects.

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