Magnesium is hands down my favorite mineral. Without it, the body can’t make energy, muscles don’t relax, and calcium builds up, leading to a host of unwanted effects. You’ll have symptoms if you’re deficient in this vital mineral, although you may not correlate them with a magnesium deficiency. Here are facts about magnesium you may not know.
5 Facts About Magnesium
1. Magnesium Is An Enzymatic Cofactor
Magnesium is an essential cofactor required by the 700-800 enzyme systems in the body. These systems are responsible for thousands of biochemical reactions, including protein synthesis, temperature regulation, nerve signal transmission, blood flow, the proper functioning of all nerves and muscles throughout the body, and blood-pressure regulation. And that’s just for starters. The Kreb’s Cycle requires magnesium in five of the eight steps needed to make ATP, the energy currency of the body.
Because magnesium is the relaxation mineral, it decreases anxiety and panic attacks due to its ability to regulate stress hormones made by the adrenal glands. It relaxes the bronchiole muscles in the lungs, reducing the symptoms of asthma, and of course magnesium is famous for alleviating uncomfortable constipation by relaxing the bowels.
Magnesium can also help with gynecological and obstetrical problems. It may reverse infertility due to its relaxation effect on the Fallopian tubes. Spasms within these tubes can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Magnesium can prevent premature labor and eclampsia as it calms contractions, while reducing the high-blood pressure that is common in women with toxemia. If you suffer from painful menstruation, take magnesium because it will relaxes the uterus, decreasing pain and discomfort.
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2. Heart Attack And Stroke
This is a big one. Since magnesium is a natural calcium channel blocker, it can effectively prevent and treat cardiac arrhythmias and heart attacks. Magnesium IVs are well documented in preventing heart damage and death following a cardiac event, increasing heart attack survival rates. While many heart attacks are caused from blockages caused by blood clots and arrhythmias, a high percentage of attacks are due to arterial spasms. Magnesium relaxes the artery walls, reducing these dangerous spasms.
[Read More: What Are The Warning Signs Of A Stroke?]
Magnesium reduces high-blood pressure and blood-vessel constriction, also reducing heart attack risk. Many people are put on diuretics and blood-pressure medications to lower blood pressure. Medications typically have negative side effects, while depleting magnesium stores. Diuretics cause the blood to become viscous, increasing stroke risk.
A Natural Blood Thinner
Magnesium naturally keeps the blood thin to prevent clots and is a natural statin, reducing high-cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These beneficial effects eliminate the need for prescription drugs, which keep the body in a state of inflammation. Magnesium improves overall vascular tone to keep the arteries healthy.
Healthy blood pressure, along with the reduced need for medication, also prevent TIAs and stroke. High-blood pressure is the number one cause of strokes. Magnesium has many neuroprotective and vascular effects, including keeping the arteries dilated and increasing blood flow, not only in the body, but in the brain as well. If magnesium is administered within three hours from the onset of a stroke, it can prevent further damage.
3. Smooth Muscle Relaxation
Over a quarter of the body’s magnesium stores are concentrated in the muscles. Magnesium is responsible for delivering the exact amount of life-giving oxygen to every muscle, helping them to relax and contract.
It also promotes the transmission of nerve impulses to the muscles, alleviating painful and annoying muscle spasms and weakness.
Muscle control and neuromuscular function requires magnesium, along with other minerals. A deficiency in magnesium can cause muscle trembling, spasms, and painful cramping.
Muscles twitch when they contract and release involuntarily. Magnesium releases tension, causing the fibers within the muscles to relax. It also prevents damage and allows the body to repair itself more quickly.
Magnesium deficiency is a common condition, and one in which most people don’t correlate their restless legs, charley horses, and involuntary twitching. Although dehydration and electrolyte imbalances may be at play, most people have at least some degree of magnesium deficiency, so supplementing with it is important since it can counteract high calcium levels in the muscles that can lead to muscle weakness and twitching.
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4. Metabolic Syndrome And Diabetes
People with blood-sugar imbalances, insulin resistance, and diabetes have lower blood-magnesium levels. Low magnesium is a risk factor for developing metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Magnesium helps insulin work better, thereby increasing insulin sensitivity. This is significant because insulin resistance is a risk factor for, not only developing diabetes, but for heart attacks, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.
Alzheimer’s is referred to as type 3 diabetes or diabetes of the brain, with insulin resistance being a precursor. Cancer feeds off excess sugar in the blood caused by insulin resistance or from the inability of insulin to transport glucose into the cells. Cells no longer respond to insulin signaling, leading to high-blood sugar, high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, abdominal obesity, tissue damage, and magnesium wasting, all risk factors for metabolic syndrome.
The cells’ inability to respond to insulin’s signaling is caused by a lack of magnesium. Magnesium increases the cells’ sensitivity to insulin, allowing glucose to enter, preventing a host of negative and damaging symptoms. Insulin resistance can remain undetected for years, it’s not until blood-sugar levels start to rise, that symptoms appear. Prevent this from happening to you by eating a healthy diet, and maintaining your magnesium stores.
5. Strong Healthy Bones
We’ve all heard the hype about the importance of calcium for healthy bones. What we don’t hear is how critical magnesium, and vitamin D are, as well. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body with over half of the body’s magnesium supplies being stored in the bones. While calcium is essential, magnesium may be even more important, due to the fact that calcium can’t be properly assimilated without it.
In the absence of vitamin D and magnesium, calcium in itself can lead to serious long-term health problems. This includes calcification of the artery walls, which can lead to cardiovascular disease, kidney calcification and kidney stones. Also, tinnitus, or calcification of the tiny hairs in the ear. This is only a small sampling of the calcification that’s associated with chronic disease. Since calcification is a measure of aging, magnesium can be correctly termed an anti-aging mineral.
Let’s not forget the importance of vitamins A and K2 for bone health. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that influences both the osteoblasts, which build up bone, and osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone. Vitamin K2, also a fat-soluble vitamin, is necessary to keep calcium in the bones and teeth, where it is needed and out of the soft tissues where it can cause a variety of problems.
Vitamin D, which is actually a hormone, is critical for healthy bones. Magnesium is required to convert vitamin D, either from the sun or from supplementation, into its active form where it can be used by the body. This active form is needed for calcium to be properly absorbed.
If you take too much vitamin D, without enough magnesium, you’ll likely create a magnesium deficiency because the enzymes that metabolize vitamin D require magnesium. With the recent hype of high-dose vitamin D supplementation, people have unwittingly caused themselves to become magnesium deficient. This underscores the importance of all minerals acting in tandem, and in the correct ratio to ensure the bones stay strong and healthy.
I’ve noticed my magnesium levels decrease when I’m out in the sun a lot. The extra vitamin D drains my magnesium stores, resulting in symptoms, such as restless legs, fatigue, and insomnia. Magnesium deficiency causes fatigue because magnesium is needed to convert carbohydrates into usable energy, and if you don’t have adequate energy, you’ll be tired.
Take more magnesium if you’ll be out in the sun more than usual. Stick with a vitamin D dosage of no more than 2,000 international units daily if your supplementing with vitamin D3. Then you don’t have to worry about depleting your magnesium stores.
Signs And Symptoms Of Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium and calcium work together. Magnesium controls calcium’s entry into every cell in the body, a process that happens every time a nerve cell fires. If too much calcium gets inside the cell, symptoms occur, including headaches, constipation, muscle cramping, fatigue, kidney stones, blood-vessel constriction, seizures, and depression as magnesium is responsible for releasing and binding healthy amounts of serotonin in the brain.
Look for additional signs such as:
- Arterial calcification
- Hormonal imbalances
- Panic attacks and anxiety
- Blood-sugar swings
- Mineral deficiencies
- Morning sickness
- Tooth decay
- Memory impairments
Are Magnesium Supplements Safe?
Magnesium supplements are not only safe, but extremely vital, as here in the US our soils don’t contain adequate amounts of magnesium as a result to farming practices. If the soils are void of magnesium, then the foods grown in that soil are deficient as well. Add to that the fact that food processing removes naturally-occurring magnesium found in some foods. Foods that contain generous amounts of magnesium, include avocados, bananas, beans, kelp, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and yes our favorite, chocolate!
I supplement with 600-800 milligrams of magnesium daily. If I’m under unusual stress or have eaten too much sugar, I’ll take more because magnesium stores are depleted by stress and sugar. The form I use is magnesium chloride. You can buy it here, and while it may seem pricey, due to its superb absorbability, you’ll get more bang for your buck than products whose absorption rate isn’t as high.
Be consistent with your supplementation as it can take up to a year to reach therapeutic levels of magnesium. This brand is my favorite if you like the convenience of capsules. Or use magnesium flakes or Epsom salts in your bath or as a foot soak to increase your levels.
What About Calcium?
Calcium is easily obtained from the diet. If you’re eating dairy products, you are most likely meeting your body’s demand for calcium. Sea salt is an excellent source, as are leafy greens and the bones of fish, such as sardines and canned salmon. If you feel you aren’t getting enough calcium from you diet alone, consider supplementing with ReCalcia, always balancing it with adequate amounts of magnesium.
I use magnesium lotion to augment my oral intake of magnesium. When applied to the skin, it stimulates the production of DHEA, a major marker of overall health, and a hormone that is associated with youth and longevity. If you have restless legs at night and can’t relax, magnesium lotion will be your go-to solution. Apply to your legs and they’ll relax in minutes.
Magnesium is a miraculous mineral and one in which most people are grossly deficient. It’s required for energy production, bone health, blood-sugar regulation, and muscle relaxation, to name just a few of its many functions. Without it the body doesn’t function properly. Since the soil is deficient in this vital mineral, supplementation is necessary to ensure that your magnesium stores are sufficient.
Do you have signs of magnesium deficiency? If you supplement with magnesium, what form do you use and have you noticed a difference? Let me know in the comments:)
(1) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare
(2) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Magnesium basics
(3) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Magnesium and Human Health: Perspectives and Research Directions
(4) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Magnesium: Are We Consuming Enough?
(5) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Magnesium
(6) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review
(7) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Magnesium and stress
(8) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis
Disclaimer: This article is strictly for informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice.