Are you getting enough magnesium in your diet? Magnesium is one of the most popular supplements on the shelves of your local Go Vita store! Paul Keogh outlines more than a dozen of the many reasons this nutrient is so important.
Magnesium deficiency affects numerous aspects of health. Magnesium is needed for nearly all biological processes that occur in your body, and for over 300 enzymatic reactions. While we can’t cover all of them in this article, the key messages to take on board are that your magnesium status matters, and that not getting enough of it in your diet may lead to a broad range of consequences, some of which are discussed here.
You may not be getting enough magnesium from your diet.
It’s estimated that adult men require 330mg to 350mg of magnesium per day and that adult women need 255mg to 265mg. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicates that more than a third of Australian women and more than 40 percent of men don’t obtain these quantities of magnesium from their diets*. If you’re concerned that your diet may be low in magnesium, consider taking a supplement to reduce the likelihood of deficiency occurring. Also be aware that athletes and other people who engage in strenuous exercise may have greater requirements for magnesium than those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle.
Magnesium also helps maintain nerve conduction (the process in which messages are sent from the body to the brain and vice versa) and plays a specific role in the interface between the nervous system and the muscular system, which is known as neuromuscular coordination.
Relieves muscle cramps and spasms.
Muscle cramps and spasms can occur when the normal contraction and relaxation of the muscle fibers is temporarily disrupted, resulting in acute contraction of the tissues. In people whose diets are low in magnesium, taking a supplement may help reduce the frequency with which muscle cramps occur, and relieve the symptoms when they do.
Healthy muscle function.
Magnesium is required for the maintenance of muscle function. In particular, it supports the healthy contraction and relaxation of the muscle fibers, which are the mechanism that enables muscles movement to occur.
Helps maintain cardiovascular health.
Just like all the other muscles in the body, your heart needs a steady supply of magnesium in order to function properly. If your diet isn’t providing all the magnesium you need, consider taking a magnesium supplement to help maintain the healthy functioning of your cardiovascular system.
Supports healthy sleep patterns.
How are you sleeping? In people whose diets don’t provide sufficient magnesium, taking a supplement helps maintain healthy sleeping patterns and reduce sleeplessness.
Relieves excess nervous energy.
The term ‘nervous energy’ is used to describe the feeling of being on edge or wound up. Taking a supplement may help to relieve this type of restlessness if you’re not obtaining adequate magnesium from your diet.
Supports cellular energy production.
Along with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B12, magnesium is required for normal energy production in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a compound that’s produced in the cells and used by them as a fuel source.
Supports muscle endurance and exercise performance.
Healthy muscles have the capacity to keep working for long periods of time. Magnesium supports muscle stamina and endurance so that they can keep performing when they’re needed. When dietary intake of magnesium is low, this effect may also help maintain your physical capacity for endurance.
Supports electrolyte balance.
If your training regime or other aspects of your daily life lead to excessive perspiration, you’re probably aware that profuse sweating can lead to the depletion of key minerals called electrolytes. Magnesium is one of the body’s most important electrolytes, so taking a supplement after exercise can help support electrolyte balance.
Relieves tired muscles and supports muscle strength.
Similarly, muscles need adequate strength in order to function properly and also require the ability to quickly recover after periods of exertion. If your diet isn’t providing sufficient magnesium, taking a supplement can help relieve muscle fatigue and support muscle strength.
Relieves symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
The blood cells of women who experience Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) contain lower levels of magnesium than those of other women. If you’re a PMS sufferer, taking a magnesium supplement may help reduce symptoms of premenstrual tension, including breast pain, mood swings, and feelings of aggression.
Magnesium supports bone health.
Calcium is often the first nutrient people think of when considering their bone and skeletal health, but magnesium plays an important role here too as it’s required for the regulation of calcium metabolism. In fact, around half of all the magnesium in your body is found in bone tissue.
Which form of magnesium should you take?
Magnesium is found in a wide variety of foods, including leafy dark green vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and wholegrain cereals. It’s also present in other fruit and vegetables and occurs naturally in water. If you’re concerned that you may not be getting enough magnesium from your diet, magnesium supplements are available in several different forms, some of which are more readily absorbed and utilised by the body than others. Magnesium glycinate is a good option to consider as it’s highly bioavailable compared to some other forms of magnesium (such as magnesium oxide) and has a stable chemical structure that enables it to be delivered intact to the intestines. Here it can be readily taken up by the body without triggering the gastrointestinal discomfort that sometimes occurs with less stable forms of magnesium.