Magnesium, The Mighty Mineral

Magnesium The Mighty MineralBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

Most of us seem to know that we need calcium for healthy bones and teeth, potassium for healthy blood pressure, and iron for the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.  We may take our multivitamin and mineral supplements without giving much thought to how our bodies use those minerals and without knowing why it’s so important that we get our daily dose.  We also know that we get minerals from our diets.  Low on calcium, consume more low fat dairy products.  Need more potassium, reach for a banana.  Need iron, a steak will do nicely. 

But what about magnesium?  Magnesium cannot be produced within the body, so we need to eat foods containing magnesium on a daily basis.  We get magnesium from dairy foods, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans, soy, apricots, fish and shellfish, spinach and other green leafy vegetables.  There are also foods, medicines, and medical conditions that can deplete magnesium from the body. These foods include carbonated beverages, processed sweets, alcohol and caffeinated drinks.  Medicines that can cause magnesium loss or interfere with absorption include antibiotics, diuretics and those used to treat cancer.  Medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, gastrointestinal diseases, thyroid disease, prolonged stress, and even an intestinal virus can all upset the body’s magnesium balance.  Excessive loss of magnesium through urination can be a side effect of some medications, poorly-controlled diabetes, or alcohol abuse. 

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and is for essential good health.  It is found largely in our bones, but also in our cells, muscles, organs and, to a smaller degree, our blood. Magnesium activates enzymes, contributes to energy production, and helps regulate levels of calcium, copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D and other important nutrients.   In fact, every organ in the body, especially the heart and the kidneys, requires magnesium.

According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps the heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system and keeps bones strong.  Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.  Without the presence of magnesium, our bodies could not produce and use energy, muscles could not contract and relax and key hormones could not be synthesized to aid in control of vital bodily functions. 

Dietary studies suggest that many Americans do not get the recommended amounts of magnesium largely due to an over consumption of processed foods and limited intake of whole foods.  This leads to a concern that many people do have not enough bodily stores of magnesium to be protective against cardiovascular disease and immune dysfunction. The health status of the digestive system and kidneys significantly influences magnesium status.  Magnesium is absorbed in the intestines and is transported through the bloodstream to cells and tissues.  The body absorbs approximately one-half of dietary magnesium from the foods we eat.  Healthy kidneys are able to limit the amount of magnesium excreted through urine to help make up for low dietary intake. 

Getting optimal levels of magnesium each day, also provides the following benefits:

  • Improves sleep – Insufficient magnesium interferes with production of the sleep regulating hormone, melatonin.  Additionally, magnesium helps to balance and control stress hormones.
  • Soothes the nervous system –  Serotonin production depends on magnesium.  Serotonin helps to relax the nervous system and aids in mood elevation. 
  • Supports muscle strength –  Magnesium contributes to the growth and strength of muscles, aids in movement, and assists in energy storage.
  • Enhances flexibility –  Magnesium helps loosen tight muscles and reduces muscle cramping.
  • Bone health –  Magnesium is essential to bone strength.  Magnesium suppresses the hormones that remove calcium from bones and stimulates the production of calcitonin, which aids calcium absorption.  A magnesium rich diet can be helpful for arthritis and can help prevent osteoporosis. 
  • pH balance –  Magnesium reduces lactic acid in muscles thereby aiding in alleviating pain and stiffness post-exercise, and helps restore pH balance. 
  • Hydration –  Often referred to as “the forgotten electrolyte,” magnesium is essential to proper hydration.
  • Enzyme function –  Magnesium is a co-factor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions involving energy metabolism, and synthesis of protein and nucleic acid. 
  • Regulates bowels – Magnesium citrate relieves chronic constipation by attracting water to the cells and intestines and relaxing the muscles within the intestines.

One of the primary causes of poor health is a body functioning in deficit.  In summation, magnesium is an essential mineral that contributes to optimal health and also protects against poor health.  Magnesium has been prized both for nutrition and healing for centuries.  In a population seemingly starved for this nutrient, make sure to get your recommended daily dose of  750 – 1,000 mg of magnesium to receive the full benefits of this mighty mineral.    

Reacted Magnesium 235 mg by Ortho Molecular – This chelated form allows for higher dosing of magnesium with a greater tolerance.  235 mg per serving

Mag Citrate by Metagenics –  A blend of magnesium citrate and calcium citrate to nutritionally support musculoskeletal health, support muscle contraction and relaxation responses and prevention of muscle cramps.  300 mg magnesium/60 mg calcium per serving

Tri-Mag 300 by DaVinci Laboratories of Vermont –  This supplement provides 3 important chelated forms of magnesium for enhanced absorption.  300 mg per serving

Mg-Zyme (Magnesium) by Biotics Research  Supplemental magnesium supplied as mixed mineral chelates.  100 mg per serving

Magnesium (glycinate) by Pure Encapsulations – Magnesium in glycinate form is a highly bioavailable magnesium chelate, supporting the metabolism and utilization of many essential nutrients and the proper functioning of important enzymatic and physiological functions. 120 mg per serving

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