Magnesium is an important mineral, as it supports many important body processes. The benefits of magnesium include helping maintain normal blood sugar levels, regulating blood pressure, and building and strengthening bones. It also supports cell division and protein synthesis, and helps transport calcium and potassium across cell membranes to maintain optimal muscle and nerve function, and normal heart rhythm. In addition, uncontrolled inflammation is known to increase risk of heart disease, arthritis and diabetes and magnesium helps reduce inflammation.
Because of all these benefits of magnesium, it is very important to consume adequate amounts of magnesium daily. Adults need 310mg to 420mg of magnesium daily. 19 – 30-year-old women need approximately 310mg; and men need 400mg of magnesium daily. Individuals who are 31-year old and older need more magnesium, that is, women need 320mg; and men need 420mg of magnesium daily.
Magnesium is found in a range of food, especially whole grains, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, avocados, and legumes; and smaller amounts are found in fish, chicken and milk. If you eat a varied diet that includes whole grains at each main meal; a handful of nuts or seeds, half a bowl of cooked or 1 big bowl of dark leafy greens, 2 palm sized portions of fish or poultry 2 servings of milk or milk products, and a bowl of beans daily, you may just about meet your magnesium requirement. The ground reality however, is that many people don’t consume a range of these food daily and hence a dietary deficiency of magnesium is inevitable. Older adults especially are at risk of magnesium deficiency, as their food intake and nutrient absorption decrease with age.
Inadequate magnesium intake is cause for concern, as over time magnesium inadequacy leads to a range of health issues such as:
1. Type 2 Diabetes
As magnesium helps insulin work effectively and insulin helps maintain steady blood sugar levels, adequate intake of magnesium has been linked with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.
It is also important to note, that in individuals with diabetes, urinary loss of magnesium increases and this leads to magnesium inadequacy too, which in turn impairs the actions of insulin, and diabetes control. Hence, it is important for diabetics to monitor their magnesium intake, and take a magnesium supplement if diabetes is uncontrolled. Note here though, that all supplementation should be taken only after consulting a physician.
2. High Blood Pressure
As magnesium helps blood vessel walls relax, it keeps blood pressure down; and a deficiency leads to an opposite impact. A deficiency is cause for concern, as high blood pressure increases risk for heart disease and stroke. It is not surprising therefore, that researchers have observed a higher risk of heart disease and stroke in individuals who consumed lower levels of magnesium.
3. Bone Health & Osteoporosis
As magnesium is involved in bone formation, inadequate intake can impact bone mineral density and increase risk of osteoporosis.
Lower levels of magnesium have been observed in the blood and tissues of people who suffer from migraine headaches. Magnesium supplements have been seen to prevent migraines in some individuals. If you are a migraine sufferer, it may be useful for you to consider supplementation, but only after you consult your doctor.
In summary, like calcium, the benefits of magnesium are many. It is an important mineral and consuming adequate levels of magnesium is important, as magnesium plays many important roles in the body, ranging from blood sugar control, to maintaining nerve and muscle health. For adequate magnesium intake, it is important to consume a range of food especially whole grains, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, avocados, legumes, dairy, fish and poultry daily. If consuming a varied diet is a challenge, a magnesium supplement may be considered to ensure adequate magnesium intake, but only after consulting a physician, in order to keep the body functioning optimally, and Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and migraine headaches under control.
National Inst. of Health – Office of Dietary Supplements . (2020, January 2). Health Information.