Sleep better. Get rid of stress. Improve brain function. Enhance overall health and well being. These are just a few of the incredible health benefits of getting enough magnesium.
Add losing harmful belly fat and having a leaner body composition to that list and you have a nutrient that everybody needs to know about.
Certainly one of the nutrients with the most benefits for the human body, magnesium is involved in over 300 essential biochemical reactions. These include protein synthesis, testosterone production, insulin sensitivity, calcium absorption, and regulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Plus, magnesium has been shown to enable the metabolism of vitamin D, meaning it is essential for bone health and treatment of osteoporosis.
Three things you should know about magnesium to begin are:
First, most Americans are deficient in magnesium and this pattern of scarcity is evident across the Western world.
Second, the standard test used by medical doctors for magnesium measures serum magnesium levels in the blood. Only about one percent of this mineral is found in the blood. Rather, 66 percent is found in bone and 33 percent in skeletal and cardiac muscle.
To effectively assess magnesium levels that reflect how it works in the body you need to test content in the red blood cells. It’s very common for individuals with serum magnesium lab results in the normal range to actually be deficient in magnesium.
Third, magnesium plays a role in physical performance and muscle function. Athletes and serious trainees are commonly deficient because strength training increases magnesium requirements.
Here are 10 compelling benefits from getting enough magnesium, with detailed research and TAKEAWAYS if you just want the quick tips.
1. Sleep Better and Reduce Insomnia With Magnesium
Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system. If you are deficient, your heart rate and sympathetic nervous system will be sent into overdrive. Additionally, lack of magnesium alters electrical activity in the brain, causing agitated sleep and frequent awakenings.
A study of people who reported poor sleep as measured with the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index found that taking a magnesium supplement decreased chronic inflammation and improved sleep quality.
Researchers suggest that adding magnesium to their diets decreased the participants’ sympathetic nervous activity, and had the benefit of reducing stress and allowing them to relax. In this study, lower magnesium levels were associated with a higher body mass index, indicating the connection between body fat percentage and magnesium levels.
TAKEAWAY: Take Magnesium to help you de-stress and sleep restfully throughout the night.
2. Magnesium Improves Brain Function and Fights Depression
Magnesium is essential for a great memory. Research from MIT has shown that magnesium regulates a key receptor in the brain that supports memory and learning. Adequate magnesium in the cerebrospinal fluid is essential for maintaining the plasticity of brain synapses. Further, magnesium plays a major role in neurotransmitter release of serotonin. Serotonin makes you feel relaxed and improves mood. Plus, raising serotonin is an effect of many antidepressant medications.
TAKEAWAY: Magnesium makes your brain work better and improves memory.
3. Maximize Training Gains With Magnesium
Known as the "anti-stress" mineral, magnesium benefits recovery from intense workouts by lowering inflammation. It also supports protein synthesis and increasing replenishment of glycogen, the source of energy in muscle. Additionally, research shows that magnesium supplementation paired with resistance exercise can make your stronger.
One study found that a group that took 8 mg/kg of body weight a day of magnesium while strength training improved strength significantly more than a control group that only trained.
TAKEAWAY: Optimal magnesium levels are necessary for muscle and strength development.
4. Improve Heart Health With Magnesium
Inflammation is not only an obstacle to recovery from hard workouts; it also contributes to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and diabetes. A study by George Washington University found that magnesium deficiency led to increased inflammation in the body, affecting blood vessels and cardiac tissues.
Magnesium deficiency also decreases lipid metabolism and raises blood pressure. This combination negatively impacts the health of the arteries. Ultimately it leads to atherosclerosis.
Research shows that adding magnesium to the diet in the form of 365 mg magnesium twice daily for six months can reduce the likelihood of experiencing exercise-induced chest pain. Research participants had previously experienced chest pain before the study. Taking magnesium also allowed them to improve exercise duration by 14 percent over a control group.
TAKEAWAY: Magnesium is critical for cardiovascular health because it decreases inflammation.
5. Prevent Osteoporosis With Magnesium
Calcium is necessary for stronger bones, but it does nothing if you don’t have adequate magnesium and vitamin D. Magnesium has the benefit of allowing the body to convert vitamin D into its active form to help with calcium absorption and bone building.
Magnesium also leads to the release of the hormone calcitonin, which helps to preserve bone structure. It draws calcium out of the blood and soft tissues, depositing it back into the bones. Plus, magnesium suppresses parathyroid hormone, which breaks bone down.
Research points to the importance of the calcium to magnesium ratio (ideally in the 1:1 range). Scientists found that giving a vitamin D supplement to obese women who are deficient in both vitamin D and magnesium resulted in an increase in magnesium concentrations.
TAKEAWAY: A calcium supplement is useless without adequate magnesium. Combine calcium and magnesium in equal doses… and don’t forget the vitamin D.
6. Magnesium Protects Against Harmful Belly Fat
Magnesium is particularly important in treating excess belly fat. Obese individuals commonly have insulin resistance and chronic low-grade inflammation, which is magnified by typically low magnesium status. Additionally, research shows that high abdominal fat levels are related to excessive cortisol, low magnesium, and greater risk of high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
A review from the journal Biological Trace Element Research reports that magnesium plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism. Magnesium also has benefits for controlling blood glucose levels. Low magnesium can cause insulin resistance, which may result in the kidneys being unable to retain magnesium during episodes of hyperglycemia, creating a downward spiral of magnesium deficiency and subsequently diabetes.
TAKEAWAY: Adequate magnesium is crucial for treating obesity and preventing diabetes.
7. Magnesium Promotes Healthy Pregnancy and Protects Metabolism of Offspring
Low magnesium levels are common in pregnant women and this deficit has harmful effects on both the mother and child. Magnesium helps protect against gestational diabetes and reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome in the child after birth. Lack of magnesium results in a stress effect that activates the sympathetic nervous system, increasing oxidative stress and inflammation.
TAKEAWAY: Getting adequate magnesium during pregnancy benefits metabolic health in both mother and child.
8. Magnesium Eases Stress and Helps Metabolize Cortisol
Magnesium helps your body handle stress by lowering release of adrenaline and cortisol as part of your fight-or-flight response. In addition, magnesium helps the body metabolize cortisol, helping you return to a relaxed state faster.
TAKEAWAY: Healthy magnesium levels lower cortisol and help you cope with stress.
9. Magnesium Reduces Constipation and Digestive-Related Diseases
Gastrointestinal problems are a common side effect of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium relaxes the bowel, making it a go-to treatment for constipation.
Researchers theorize that one reason fiber is good for digestive health is due to its high magnesium content. An added benefit to faster transit time through the GI tract is to reduce the risk of disease including colon cancer and diabetes.
TAKEAWAY: Magnesium benefits digestion and eliminates constipation. This lowers diabetes and colon cancer risk.
10. Magnesium Treats ADHD and Hyperactivity
Studies of children with ADHD consistently point to low magnesium levels as a cause. Supplementing with magnesium has been shown to increase attention span, which researchers suggest is due both to its calming effects and the fact that it improves brain activity.
TAKEAWAY: Get adequate magnesium to improve focus and decrease ADHD.