You probably already know a lot about the other vitamins and minerals that are crucial to your overall optimal health, such as iron, calcium, and vitamin C, but other minerals – such as magnesium – are often neglected when it comes to choosing the foods and supplements that you put into your diet in order to stay healthy.
However, magnesium has a number of incredible health benefits that can make you stronger, that can ease your fatigue, and that can even improve your mood. Here are six incredible health benefits of magnesium that you can gain by eating the right kind of foods.
1. High Blood Pressure Regulation
You might think that high blood pressure is caused by stress or lack of exercise or being overweight or too much salt. But these may just exacerbate the condition that is already lurking in your arteries, caused in part by a mineral deficiency.
Magnesium plays an important role in regulating your blood pressure. It relaxes “smooth muscle” cells, meaning those in your veins and arteries, so they don’t constrict the flow of blood. It also regulates other minerals vital to blood pressure; it maintains the delicate balance between sodium and potassium; it helps the body absorb calcium (and not be deposited in arteries). So magnesium has direct and indirect impacts on high blood pressure risks.
A 2013 study tested not just how much magnesium people ate in their diet, but how much was actually absorbed by their body to qualify whether it indeed reduces risks. Researchers examined over 5,500 people aged 28 to 75 and found that “absorbed magnesium” was associated with a 21% lower risk of hypertension even after considering other aspects of their lifestyle and diet.
A 2017 clinical review involving 20,119 cases of hypertension (and 180,566 people) also found magnesium reduced risk of high blood pressure. Just taking 100 mg per day of a magnesium supplement was associated with a 5% reduction.
2. Migraine Headaches
Do you suffer from chronic migraine headaches? Many individuals will try every treatment under the sun, without realizing that one of the most effective treatments for migraines may actually be something as simple as magnesium. In fact, some researchers have suggested that every sufferer of migraines should attempt to use magnesium as a cure.
3. Depression and Other Mood Problems
Improves Digestion and Alleviates Constipation Symptoms
Listen to your gut. Rectify a digestion problem before it becomes chronic. Whether you suffer from acid reflux, constipation, gas, bloating or indigestion, the food you eat isn’t being properly processed. This reduces your ability to absorb nutrients from it, and can result in long-term, serious health issues.
Did you know that it’s impossible to digest food without magnesium? A deficiency contributes to your digestive trouble.
Without magnesium, your body can’t perform the “mechanics” of digestion, make hydrochloric acid (stomach acid), make digesting enzymes for carbs, proteins and fats, and repair and protect your digestive organs (esophagus, stomach, intestines, pancreas, colon).
As soon as you put food into your mouth, magnesium comes into play. It helps to make enzymes in your saliva that break food down into smaller parts, helping the entire digestive process. The hormones that tell your stomach to produce digestive acid need magnesium to be made; without it, you can’t digest food. After your stomach, food goes into your intestines, where more enzymes made by the pancreas break it down small enough to be absorbed as nutrients. The pancreas must have magnesium to make these vital enzymes. Magnesium also keeps the pancreas healthy, helping to prevent pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
Common conditions including acid reflux (heartburn) and GERD are not linked to excess stomach acid, as many people think, but low stomach acid. These conditions, too, are affected by magnesium deficiency. How? GERD and acid reflux are caused by a malfunctioning esophageal sphincter. This may happen due to a bacterial overgrowth that occurs when there is too little stomach acid. Magnesium aids stomach acid production that reduces bad bacteria in the gut.
Slow flow? Of all of these issues, poor elimination (constipation) is the most common final result of poor digestion. One symptom of magnesium deficiency is constipation. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, 16% of adults (including one-third of people over 60) are chronically constipated, meaning they have three or fewer bowel movements per week. Learn about the common causes of constipation and what you can do it about it!
Protects Against Diabetes
Are you on the edge? Being pre-diabetic can leave you wondering what steps to take to make certain that you never get type 2 diabetes. Once again, ensuring you have enough magnesium is a natural route to health. Magnesium is the key to insulin sensitivity. It’s not surprising then that magnesium deficiency is common in metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.
Research from 2014 says magnesium deficiency is associated with triggering “acute phase response” that contributes to type 2 diabetes. Supplements were given to apparently healthy people with prediabetes who had low magnesium. Taking magnesium supplements decreased their C-reactive protein. C-reactive protein is high in those who become diabetic.
When you already have type 2 diabetes, magnesium deficiency has also been linked to poor glycemic control, diabetic retinopathy (damage to eyes leading to blindness), nephropathy (damage to kidneys leading to renal failure), neuropathy (nerve damage), and foot ulcerations. Therefore, scientists highly recommend supplementing with magnesium due to the increase of these conditions among type 2 diabetics.
Do you have type 1 diabetes? The American Diabetes Association promotes that magnesium supplementation can also create a more positive health outcome for those who have insulin-dependent diabetes. It offers research showing that patients with type 1 diabetes taking magnesium had improved metabolic control, increased good (HDL) cholesterol, and lower triglycerides that reduce risks of heart trouble.
Supports Bone Health
You know you need calcium to build bones. But calcium is only one of several minerals required for bones to be strong and malleable. Its partner magnesium is just as vital (and is aided by minerals like boron, copper, nickel, phosphorus, silicon, and zinc). Magnesium is actually a metal, and is found in abundance in bones to keep them as strong and malleable as metal! An adult body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, and over half is in your bones.
Magnesium is known to reduce the rate that bones degrade or break down. And magnesium deficiency can result in fragile bones. A 2013 study says that a balanced level of magnesium within bones is crucial for bone health — too little magnesium contributes to bone loss by:
Affecting “crystal formation” in bone cells.
Impacting the amount of parathyroid hormone produced. (The amount of calcium your body absorbs is controlled by parathyroid hormone.)
Creating inflammation in your bones.
Magnesium is therefore important to prevent bone loss. Research shows that people who get higher amounts of magnesium in their food and supplements have a higher bone mineral density. This is important to reduce the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. To find out more about osteoporosis, check out our top Osteoporosis Treatment article.