Magnesium is a mineral which is gaining traction in recent years as a key nutrient to supplement with. As you’ll read throughout the article, magnesium has an incredible and vast array of health benefits on the human body and is a large contributor to many biological processes that promote health and longevity.
The need to supplement with magnesium has only increased in recent decades, and this article will outline why that is. Magnesium is also a safe and well tolerated mineral, therefore if you are susceptible to any of the signs and symptoms outlined, it may be worth considering magnesium supplementation.
I recommend magnesium regularly in clinic and I frequently receive feedback on what a profound effect it has on my client’s energy and wellbeing. It’s a supplement I regularly reach out for in my supplement toolkit, with this article outlining why it is such a staple for me as a practitioner.
Supports Nervous System Function
Magnesium is one of the more underrated supplements when it comes to supporting symptoms that accompany modern living. Stressful hectic lives in which we are expected to juggle multiple responsibilities and duties, understandably leave many of us feeling burnt out.
Whilst lifestyle changes are one of the more effective ways to mitigate burnout and stress, stress depletes the body of magnesium, which is a nutrient that we require to help support our nervous system in times of stress. Studies even show that magnesium deficiency may contribute to anxiety and depression1.
The mineral has been shown to positively impact the nervous system by regulating function, and promoting calm and balance. Due to its beneficial influence on the nervous system, magnesium is a fantastic natural sleep aid. Simply take the recommended dose as outlined one hour before bed to help boost sleep quality.
Essential for Healthy Muscles
Magnesium is a nutrient needed for the process of energy metabolism and helps to facilitate normal muscle concentration and relaxation.
A study showed that as physical performance increased, the need for magnesium also increased. The study reported that magnesium may also improve exercise performance by improving glucose availability in the muscle, brain and blood whilst also reducing lactic acid build up in the muscle, which can significantly impact performance and muscle recovery2.
Important for Heart Health
Magnesium is an essential nutrient for helping the heart to function optimally. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to help with high blood pressure levels due to improving vasodilation (expanding of arteries) to help improve blood flow3.
Hypertension aka high blood pressure is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease, therefore if you are at risk of cardiovascular disease, consider supplementing with magnesium to help improve blood flow to the heart.
Needed for Many Biochemical Reactions in the Body
Magnesium is located in every single cell in the human body to help with its function.
Magnesium is a common co-factor nutrient. Co factor nutrients can help the body to absorb and utilise other nutrients as well as be a critical step in many biochemical processes such as methylation, metabolism and energy production. Magnesium, essentially, helps the entire body to function optimally.
This vital nutrient also helps create and repair DNA and helps to form new proteins from amino acids.
Can Improve Symptoms of PMS
A study revealed that daily magnesium supplementation throughout the month lead to a reduction in PMS symptoms such as migraines, bloating, anxiety and depression4.
Magnesium may also prove beneficial during the first week of the menstrual cycle to help with associated cramps. As magnesium is a muscle relaxant it may help to soothe and reduce cervix muscle spasms.
May Help to Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Dysregulated blood sugar is linked to many chronic prevalent health conditions, such as diabetes, hormonal conditions like PCOS and cardiovascular disease. Studies show that up to half of people with type 2 diabetes have inadequate levels of magnesium in their blood, impairing the body’s ability to balance blood sugar levels5.
Magnesium has also been shown to support insulin sensitivity. Improved insulin sensitivity allows glucose from the foods we consume to enter our cells to be utilised for energy, instead of spending prolonged periods of time in our bloodstream contributing to metabolic disease6.
May Help Improve Gut Function
Magnesium is often recommended as a natural laxative as it promotes muscle relaxation, including the smooth muscle of the digestive tract.
This can help improve a range of symptoms from helping to reduce stomach cramps as well as relieving constipation by improving bowel emptying. These improvements can also help to reduce symptoms like bloating as the prokinetic activities of magnesium help to push food through the digestive tract without it being left to stagnate and begin to putrefy and ferment.
Fermentation of undigested foods can lead to all of the problematic digestive symptoms outlined, therefore if you are experiencing gut issues then do consider magnesium supplementation – it could be a gamechanger!
Along with vitamin D deficiency, which has shown to be prevalent in up to 60% of the UK population in winter months7, subclinical magnesium deficiency is relatively common, with reports that low magnesium serum levels may be reported in the vast majority of modern societies8.
Magnesium deficiency is on the rise, due to the globalisation and automation of food production. A century ago, the soil in which we grew vegetables was mineral dense and had an abundance of magnesium which allowed us to meet our magnesium requirements without the need for supplementation.
Modern food processing technology often removes part of the plant which contains the highest nutrient content, and intensive farming in recent decades is aimed towards breeding crop varieties which grow more efficiency and maintain a higher resistance to pests. Globalisation has led to the growth of crops in parts of the world which aren’t reflective of the typical climate in which they’re grown, leading to a reduction in nutrient quality of said crops. Magnesium unfortunately, tends to be a nutrient which takes a big hit from intensive farming.
Magnesium Deficiency: Signs & Symptoms
As mentioned, subclinical magnesium deficiency is more prevalent than overt deficiency, meaning that signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency can go unnoticed for some time.
From clinical experience, many people have signs of subclinical magnesium deficiency, which have been prevalent for such a long time that they find it difficult to recognise the signs. They are recommended magnesium supplementation and notice an improvement in their ability to cope with stress, sleep quality, constipation and general wellbeing and mood (to name a few key symptoms).
If you’re not sure whether you may have a magnesium deficiency, here are a few common signs and symptoms to look out for:
- Restless leg syndrome
- Irregular heartbeat & nausea10
- Low appetite
If you think you may have a magnesium deficiency, do consider supplementing with the mineral for several weeks to see if symptoms improve. Many signs of nutrient deficiency can overlap with other nutrient deficiencies, therefore if you don’t see or feel improvements within several weeks of daily supplementation, then do seek the help of a qualified health practitioner.