Magnesium: 5 Science-Backed Benefits for Your Health

Magnesium: 5 Science-Backed Benefits for Your Health

A quick refresher course: magnesium is the third most abundant mineral in the human body, involved in over 300 chemical reactions and critical for the optimal functioning of various systems, including the heart, muscles and the immune system. 1 Pretty big deal, huh?

Not getting enough magnesium into your system can lead to shortfalls — and, subsequently, to deficiency symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness and anxiety.

But enough talk about magnesium deficiency (which we’re discussing in a different article here, by the way). Let’s focus on the benefits of magnesium instead — and here are 5 research-backed magnesium benefits you should know about.

1. Magnesium can improve your mood

Did you know that magnesium is reputed for its beneficial effects on mood? Research shows that magnesium plays a crucial role in regulating neurotransmitters, the chemicals in the central nervous system that transmit messages throughout the brain and body. 2, 3, 4 For example, magnesium interacts with gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors and helps to support the calming effects of this neurotransmitter — which is why it’s frequently labelled the ‘chill pill’. 5

Added to which, higher magnesium levels in the body are also associated with healthy levels of serotonin — a.k.a. the happy chemical — in the cerebrospinal fluid. 5 Not to mention that it keeps the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate within healthy limits. 6

And now on to the evidence: A 2017 review of 18 studies found that magnesium supplementation helped to reduce subjective anxiety in individuals with mild anxiety, generalised anxiety and anxiety during premenstrual syndrome. 7 The same review also concluded that low magnesium levels in the body might be associated with higher levels of anxiety.

Another study reported a significant association between very low magnesium intake and depression, especially in younger adults. 8 The study found that people under the age of 65 with the lowest blood levels of magnesium were 22% more likely to develop depression.

In a randomised controlled trial, a 450mg daily dose of magnesium was reportedly as effective as a 50mg dose of the antidepressant Imipramine at improving depressive symptoms. 9 A similar study found that participants with mild or moderate depression who took 428mg of magnesium every day, alongside their normal treatment, experienced a significant improvement in their depressive symptoms. 10

Another thing to remember is that excessive stress can rob your body of magnesium — but your body needs magnesium to respond effectively to stress. In other words, making sure you’re getting enough magnesium can help you deal with stress and anxiety better.

2. Magnesium may benefit people with type 2 diabetes

Research tells us that nearly half — or to be more precise, 48% — of people with type 2 diabetes have low blood levels of magnesium. 11 Because this mineral plays a major role in insulin control and glucose metabolism, not having enough of it can impair insulin’s ability to keep blood sugar levels under control. 12, 13 In fact, magnesium deficiency is linked to insulin resistance, a condition that occurs when cells don’t respond to insulin, causing excess sugar to circulate in the body. 14, 15, 16 Insulin resistance is a key feature of type 2 diabetes.

One study reported significant reductions in fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels in people taking 300mg of magnesium every day for 3 months compared to the placebo group. 17

Another study showed that a high daily intake of magnesium might result in significant improvements in blood sugar and haemoglobin A1c levels in people with type 2 diabetes. 18 A 2016 review also found that supplementing with magnesium for a period of at least four months improved insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control both in diabetic and non-diabetic individuals. 19

But magnesium doesn’t only improve the condition itself — in some cases, it may even help to prevent it. One study that followed over 4,000 participants for a period of 20 years reported a 47% lower risk of diabetes among those with the highest magnesium intake. 20

3. Magnesium boosts exercise performance

Here’s a fun fact — your body needs between 10% and 20% more magnesium when you’re exercising than when you’re resting due to increased fluid and electrolyte loss. 21 As much as 10% of your body’s total magnesium concentration is lost during exercise, along with sodium, chloride and potassium. 22 More intense workout routines likely account for higher magnesium losses — in other words, the more you sweat, the more magnesium you lose.

That’s when symptoms of electrolyte imbalance start to kick in, with symptoms ranging from dizziness to mental confusion, weakness and muscle cramping. Maintaining electrolyte balance can make all the difference to your exercise performance, so replenishing your electrolyte levels during and after your workout routine should be at the top of your list.

Magnesium also helps to dispose of lactate, which can build up during exercise and cause fatigue. 23 But what, exactly, is lactate? Allow us to explain. When you’re working out, your body uses oxygen to break down glucose for energy. 24 However, if your workout routine is more intense, chances are there’s not enough oxygen available to complete the process — so your body produces a substance called lactate, which can be converted to energy without oxygen. And here comes the scary part: lactate builds up in your bloodstream faster than you can burn it off, which can leave your muscles feeling fatigued and sore.

Magnesium optimises energy production during exercise by enhancing glucose availability in the peripheral and central systems. 25 It also promotes lactate clearance in the muscles, which in turn helps to prevent muscle fatigue and improves your exercise performance.

Supplementing with magnesium has actually been shown to improve exercise performance in athletes as well as elderly people and people with chronic diseases. 26, 27, 28 In one study, magnesium supplementation for a period of four weeks resulted in faster running, cycling and swimming times during a triathlon. 29 Participant also reported lower insulin and stress hormone levels.

In a different study, volleyball players who supplemented with 250mg of magnesium every day experienced improvements in jumping and arm movements. 30

4. Magnesium can improve heart health

Magnesium has pretty significant benefits for your cardiovascular health, too. Researchers argue that magnesium supplementation can reduce the risk factors for heart disease. 31 A 2009 study reported lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people taking 450mg of magnesium daily. 32, 33 On that note, a meta-analysis of 34 clinical trials also found that supplementing with 300mg of magnesium daily for a period of one month can reduce blood pressure. 34, 35 And a more recent review of 28 studies concluded that magnesium supplementation in people with type 2 diabetes reduced blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and fasting blood sugar. 36

But wait, we’re not done praising magnesium. A 2018 review revealed that low blood levels of this mineral can increase your risk of heart disease. 37 The authors also observed that magnesium deficits are more common in people with congestive heart failure and can actually worsen their clinical outcomes. That’s why many doctors sometimes prescribe magnesium as part of the treatment for congestive heart failure to help reduce the risk of abnormal heart rhythm (a.k.a. arrhythmia).

In another study, the rate of sudden cardiac death was 59% lower in participants with higher magnesium levels (0.98 per 1,000 people per year) versus the participants with the lowest magnesium levels (2.41 per 1,000 people per year). 38, 39 Increasing your magnesium intake also has the potential to reduce your risk of stroke by 2% for every 100mg daily increase in magnesium. 40

5. Magnesium can help you sleep better

There’s no question about it: sleep is just as vital to your physical health as it is to your sanity. But what do you do when you can’t get enough shut-eye because you keep tossing and turning? According to researchers, magnesium might be the solution — or, at least, part of it.

We all agree that, in order to fall and stay asleep, your brain and body need to relax. Magnesium promotes relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which produces a calming effect on the mind and body. 41 Moreover, it supports healthy levels of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) — a neurotransmitter that helps the mind and body relax — in the brain. 42, 43 Another fun fact: sleeping drug Zolpidem also interacts with GABA receptors to help you fall asleep.

Plus, existing research has identified a statistically significant positive association between magnesium supplementation and increased melatonin levels. 44 Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that guides your sleep-wake cycles. Usually, melatonin levels rise in the evening, about two hours before bedtime — it’s your body’s way of telling you to go to bed. 45 But if you’re feeling stressed and anxious, your body might not produce enough melatonin, which means you’ll likely have difficulties falling asleep.

That’s where magnesium comes into play: because it promotes melatonin production, it can help you drift off to the land of nod faster and get all the shut-eye you need.

In one study, the participants who were given 500mg of magnesium reported better sleep quality than the placebo group. 46 They also had higher levels of — surprise, surprise — melatonin and renin. Another study found that magnesium deficiency could potentially cause restless nights and decrease sleep quality. 47

It’s time you got serious about magnesium.

Whether you’re struggling to fall asleep or you’re in the ongoing grip of a stress-hormone high, magnesium can certainly help. And getting enough magnesium from your diet isn’t hard either — from a handful of high-protein almonds to a few slices of omega-3-rich avocado and a few bites of antioxidant-loaded dark chocolate, you’ve got plenty of magnesium-rich foods to choose from.

Our high-quality, vegan-friendly Magnesium capsules are formulated with 600mg of magnesium citrate — one of the most bioavailable and highly absorbable forms of magnesium. Take 1-2 capsules daily for maximum benefits.

 

References
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