Magnesium is a trace mineral that is essential for optimal health. It is also one of the most potent, versatile and safe supplements available. Yet this mineral is woefully underused in American medicine. Here are just a few examples of the health benefits of magnesium.
Magnesium for Heart Health
Magnesium benefits the heart in several ways, including lowering blood pressure, alleviating arrhythmia, and more.
Magnesium and High Blood Pressure
In one study, Korean researchers evaluated the health benefits of magnesium as they relate to blood pressure. They found that among the study participants with hypertension, those who took 300 mg of supplemental magnesium daily for three months had marked reductions in blood pressure compared to those who took a placebo pill. Systolic/diastolic pressures fell 17.1/6.7 mmHg in the magnesium group, and 3.4/0.8 in the placebo group.
Results might have been even more significant with higher doses. A meta-analysis involving 20 randomized clinical trials revealed that for each 240 mg increase in magnesium intake, systolic/diastolic pressures dropped by an average of 4.3/2.3 mmHg. Why is this important? Because whenever systolic pressure decreases by 20 points and diastolic pressure falls 10 points, your risk of developing heart disease is cut in half!
IV Magnesium for Heart Attack
Magnesium administered intravenously also confers significant heart health benefits. In fact, it can be lifesaving. Of course, this is normally done in medical settings, but if you find yourself in a life-threatening situation like a heart attack, request IV magnesium treatment immediately.
In a landmark double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Israeli researchers gave IV magnesium to half of 194 patients suffering from acute heart attacks. The in-hospital death rate of those receiving the magnesium IV was one-fourth that of those who received standard treatment alone.
A follow-up study of these patients revealed an enduring beneficial effect of a magnesium IV treatment. Compared to the group who received magnesium, nearly twice as many patients in the placebo group had died from heart disease or other causes, and there were considerably more cases of heart failure and impaired heart function those who did not receive a magnesium IV treatment.
In addition to increasing survival after heart attack, IV magnesium treatment smooths out arrhythmias and improves outcomes in patients undergoing angioplasty with stent placement.
Magnesium Protects Against Strokes
Magnesium also helps to reduce stroke risk. Every 40 seconds, someone in America has a stroke, and it's our third leading cause of death and main cause of long-term disability. But it can be prevented.
Data from the Nurse’s Health Study (NHS) I and II, which examined the mineral consumption of more than 178,000 women over more than two decades, reveals that a robust intake of magnesium, as well as potassium, significantly reduces stroke risk. Though this study focused solely on women, these minerals are protective for men as well.
Magnesium Prevents Diabetes and Its Complications
Anyone concerned about diabetes should also be taking magnesium. In a study out of Sweden, scientists reviewed the published studies that looked at magnesium health benefits and diabetes risk and found that for every 100 mg increase in daily intake of magnesium, there was a 15 percent decrease in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Magnesium supplementation is even more important if you already have diabetes. Diabetes is a nutritional wasting disease. When blood sugar is high, it becomes a powerful diuretic that leads to increased urination. Unfortunately, this results in losses of virtually all water-soluble nutrients, leading to deficiencies in a number of vitamins and minerals—including magnesium.
This is problematic because low magnesium levels not only make controlling blood sugar more difficult but also increase risk of diabetic complications. For example, individuals with the lowest levels of magnesium are the most likely to have severe diabetic retinopathy. So shoring up on magnesium is absolutely critical if you have diabetes.
Magnesium Benefits Muscles
It is especially helpful in alleviating annoying muscle twitching. Most minor muscle twitches are caused by stress, although fatigue and excess caffeine have also been implicated in eye twitches. Stress reduction, rest, and cutting back on caffeine are obvious preventive measures.
Although most twitches disappear on their own in a few hours or days, 200–400 mg of magnesium citrate relaxes the muscles and may calm down involuntary contractions.
Magnesium and Asthma
Just as it relaxes the smooth muscles of the arteries and improves blood flow, magnesium also relaxes the airways and acts as a bronchodilator. Even after conventional treatments such as inhaled bronchodilators have failed, magnesium (particularly in IV form) can be lifesaving when it comes to asthma attacks.
Improve Sleep, Reduce Migraines, and More
Magnesium is helpful for more run-of-the-mill problems as well.
Magnesium benefits sleep and improves insomnia by fostering relaxation without leaving you with the groggy “hangover” that many sleep aids cause. For this purpose, magnesium citrate works best.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, magnesium also improves energy and endurance.
If you suffer from migraine headaches, magnesium supplements help reduce their frequency and severity. And if you are prone to kidney stones, research shows the combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 can cut recurrences by 92 percent.
Magnesium can even relieve constipation and back pain.
How to Get Adequate Magnesium
Most people just aren’t getting enough magnesium. More than 50 percent of Americans have an inadequate magnesium intake from the foods they eat.
Why is this important? In a massive meta-analysis involving more than a million people in nine different countries, researchers discovered that an increase in dietary magnesium of just 100 mg per day is associated with significant reductions in risk of heart failure (22 percent reduction), diabetes (19 percent), stroke (7 percent), and death from all causes (10 percent).
Magnesium-rich foods to incorporate into your daily diet include:
- Spinach and other leafy greens
- Whole grains
However, diet alone will not cut it. To bolster magnesium stores, take 250–1,000 mg of supplemental magnesium daily. It comes in several forms (citrate, aspartate, oxide, etc.) and all are acceptable, though magnesium citrate and aspartate are slightly better absorbed than magnesium oxide.
For nighttime use (to facilitate sleep and relaxation), take Magna-Calm, a rapidly bioavailable, powdered form of magnesium citrate. To use, dissolve in water and drink approximately 30 minutes before bedtime.
Note: Large amounts of magnesium can cause diarrhea. To avoid this potential side effect, build up your dose gradually.