Whether we really understand why our bodies require certain vitamins and minerals to function properly or not, we know these nutrients are good for us. For some people, this is all they need to know or all they care to know. But in reality, we should strive to understand our bodies more and understand what specific nutrients do, not only for the body but for overall health.
One mineral that’s often not as well understood as it should be is magnesium. What does magnesium do for your body? It’s most commonly known for supporting bone and muscles. But what many people don’t realize is that magnesium is involved in over 600 metabolic reactions in the body. 1
What Does Magnesium Do for the Body?
The mineral magnesium is found in the Earth’s crust as well as naturally in certain foods. The body stores approximately 50% of its magnesium in the bones and 50% in skeletal muscle and soft tissue. 2
Magnesium is a co-factor in protein synthesis, nerve function, glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. 3, 4, 5 Additionally, it’s needed for energy production. So, it makes sense why it’s so critically important for overall health. It’s involved in so many functions of the body that it has been regarded by some as a “magic mineral.”
One could go on and on about how magnesium works in virtually every reaction. But that would require us to dive deep into the realm of biochemistry and organic chemistry. Instead, let’s look in a more general sense at what does magnesium actually do for your body?
1. Brain Function
Magnesium keeps your brain functioning properly. This is because it’s involved in the signals between your brain and the rest of your body. Magnesium is considered a gatekeeper for the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors found on your nerve cells, which aid brain development, memory, and learning. 6
Magnesium determines which signals are necessary to stimulate your nerves. Without magnesium, these nerve cells can be overstimulated, causing further damage to the nerves. 7
2. Bones & Muscles
You’ve probably heard how important calcium is for building strong bones, but what you may not know is that magnesium does too! When it comes to bone formation, magnesium influences the activities of osteoblasts and osteoclasts. 8 Osteoblasts are bone cells responsible for bone formation. Osteoclasts are bone cells that remove bone tissue by removing the minerals and dissolving the collagen part of the bone. Magnesium also affects both parathyroid hormone and the active form of vitamin D—major regulators of bone homeostasis.
Magnesium is also a natural calcium blocker. When calcium enters muscle cells, it stimulates the muscle fibers to contract. Magnesium completes with calcium, which then counters this effect, helping these cells relax. 9 If your body doesn’t have enough magnesium, your muscles may contract too much, causing potentially painful cramps or spasms.
3. Heart Health
Magnesium is also particularly helpful in keeping the heart healthy. Like previously mentioned, magnesium aids in muscle relaxation, including the heart. When one has low levels of magnesium, calcium can overstimulate the muscles and cause an irregular or rapid heartbeat.
Additionally, getting adequate amounts of magnesium can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that magnesium may help support the body’s ability to deal with inflammation, may prevent blood clotting, and may help blood vessels relax to potentially help lower blood pressure. 10
4. Blood Sugar
Magnesium plays a role in glucose metabolism, which has been associated with lower blood sugar. This is because magnesium helps the body convert glucose into fuel and is required for insulin secretion. So, if your magnesium levels get too low, your cells are unable to use insulin effectively, resulting in higher blood sugar levels. 11, 12
It is also thought that magnesium can help ease migraines. Migraines are intense headaches, which can cause symptoms such as nausea and light sensitivity. For some, the pain from a migraine can be very severe.
Luckily, some studies have shown magnesium may help ease migraines. It is thought to be because magnesium may decrease the release of some pain-transmitting chemicals and prevent the narrowing of blood vessels in the brain. 13, 14
6. Stress & Mood
Magnesium is linked to improved mood by its effect on neurotransmitters in the body. You see, magnesium helps increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the body. When GABA attaches to its receptors, it can produce a calming effect, which may be why it can help with stress and anxiety. 15
We can all use more sleep! Especially as we get older, when we can become more likely to suffer from insomnia. Luckily, magnesium may help improve sleep quality. This is because magnesium may help you relax, and as a result, allow you to fall asleep faster, get more sleep, and feel more rested in the morning. 16
Magnesium really is a superstar mineral for the body, but if you’re not getting adequate amounts of magnesium in your diet, you can experience deficiency symptoms, such as anxiousness, poor sleep, cramping, nausea, poor circulation, and elevated blood pressure, to name just a few.
How Much Magnesium Do I Need?
Unfortunately, assessing magnesium status can be difficult since it is stored mostly in bones. Further, as we age, the magnesium content of our bones decreases.
It is recommended for the average adult woman to consume 310 – 320 mg daily, and the average adult man to consume 400 – 420 mg daily. Surprisingly, most of us do not even come close to these recommended amounts. In fact, up to 75% of us don’t.
What Foods are Rich in Magnesium?
This is partially because many of the major sources of magnesium are leafy green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and collard greens. And as the Western diet moves more in the direction of processed foods, it becomes increasingly difficult to make sure our bodies are being properly nourished. That’s why following a varied diet filled with fresh foods is so important for helping us get enough magnesium as well as other vitamins and minerals our bodies need.
Some foods rich in magnesium include:
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts)
- Black beans
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Brown rice
Another great way to guarantee you’re getting enough magnesium in your diet is by including a high-quality magnesium supplement in your daily routine. Our favorite is BioTRUST’s Zen-ZZZ™. Zen-ZZZ is packed with 350 mg of highly-bioavailable, gut-friendly magnesium. BioTRUST makes it easy to achieve the daily recommended amount of magnesium by providing convenient, easy-to-use stick packs of delicious and refreshing raspberry-lemonade-flavored magnesium powder that mixes easily with water.
Regardless of how you get your magnesium, it is important that you are getting enough to optimally support your body. Getting enough magnesium from your diet is a big step in the right direction on your journey to a happier, healthier you.