It’s amazing when you think about all the different elements, vitamins, and minerals our body needs. Some of the most essential nutrients that we need like water, vitamins, and some minerals like iron are necessary, but our bodies don’t produce them.
They have to come from external sources like the environment and the foods we eat. Most nutrients are produced by the body, but there are times that the body doesn’t produce or consume enough of those nutrients.
When this happens, a deficiency occurs and depending on the importance of the nutrient. This can cause problems for specific systems or throughout the body.
Magnesium is one of the most essential nutrients the body needs. An adult body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, and it is recommended that adult males consume around 410 mg of magnesium and adult females consume around 315 mg of magnesium daily, higher amounts during pregnancy and lactation.
Not only is magnesium an essential nutrient, but one of the most abundant nutrients in the body is magnesium, but what is it?
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral. It can be in the sea, in plants, in animals, and in the human body. It has a part to play in every major system of the human body.
In fact, magnesium acts as a cofactor for the cells in your body. That means it helps in the biochemical reactions that the enzymes in your body are continuously performing.
It is one of your body’s best friends because every cell in your body contains it, and they also all need it to function.
Some of the main functions it assists with are:
- Creation of Energy - Food has to be converted into energy, and magnesium helps with that process.
- Formation of Protein - Magnesium works to create new proteins from amino acids.
- Maintenance of Genes - Magnesium repairs DNA and RNA, and it’s also an important player in the creation of DNA and RNA.
- Movement of Muscle - Muscles have a cycle of contracting and relaxing. The most important muscle in your body contracts and relaxes constantly, and magnesium helps the heart muscle and other muscles in the body to move.
- Regulation of the Nervous System - Magnesium works on the process of sending messages throughout the body and facilitates communication between the brain and the nervous system.
Needless to say, we need magnesium. Magnesium can be found all over your body. In fact, about sixty percent of the magnesium in the body is located in our bones. The other forty percent is the soft tissues and fluids, like our blood.
As such an important nutrient in our bodies, you may wonder how you can spot a possible deficiency and about the benefits of having the proper balance.
Signs of Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium deficiencies should be diagnosed by your physician, but you may be able to spot signs and symptoms that could prompt you to ask your doctor to check your magnesium levels.
Here are some signs and symptoms to be mindful of:
- Twitches and cramps in your muscles
- Feelings of restlessness, tension, and being overwhelmed
- Deterioration of bone health
- Muscle weakness
- Elevated blood pressure levels
- An irregular heartbeat
Some health conditions and aging can cause your body to lose magnesium. If you notice signs or have questions about your existing conditions and their effect on your magnesium levels, talk with your doctor about how to increase or supplement your magnesium intake.
If you’re unsure about having a magnesium deficiency, you may still wonder about the benefits of having normal levels of magnesium, so let’s look at those benefits.
Benefits of Magnesium
Our bodies love to have the right balance of the nutrients we need, and when our bodies have what they need, we see benefits. The benefits of magnesium include:
- Improves bone health
- Contributes to heart health
- Boosts the health and effectiveness of metabolic functions
- Helps maintain normal blood pressure levels
- Discourages discomfort from tension and uncomfortable pain in your head and neck
- Lessens or reduces discomfort from premenstrual symptoms
- Relieves feelings of restlessness and tension
- Encourages calm emotions
- Boosts stamina and performance during and after workouts
Along with many benefits, magnesium comes in many forms. Let’s explore the types of magnesium.
Types of Magnesium
Magnesium is essential, and because nearly two-thirds of the population in the United States is deficient to some degree, many people turn to supplements to achieve normal levels.
If you’re planning to talk to your doctor about magnesium, it’s important to know some of the types of magnesium and how they can be of use.
Magnesium citrate is one of the most common forms of magnesium, and it is easily located online or at the store. In this form, magnesium is bound to citric acid.
Some researchers believe that it is more bioavailable in this way which means it can be more effective when it is introduced to the body. This type of magnesium is typically taken orally and is used to improve digestive health. It also has relaxing properties, and this can help to alleviate discomfort in the digestive process.
Magnesium oxide is a salt formed from the compounding of magnesium and oxygen to create a white powdery substance. This can be ingested through powder or capsule. It is also an active ingredient in an over-the-counter medication known as milk of magnesia.
Commercials for this type of product can be quite comical, but the relief users experience when they are in need is no laughing matter. As with magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide can be used to relieve digestive discomfort, but it also works to soothe irritation in the upper digestive tract and ease feelings of tension.
Magnesium lactate is a salt. It is formed when magnesium is bound to lactic acid. Lactic acid may sound familiar to you because it is the acid your muscles and red blood cells produce when carbohydrates are broken down for energy when your oxygen levels are low.
For people needing to take larger amounts of magnesium, this can be a good choice as it is easier to absorb and is gentler on your digestive system. Some studies have suggested that it can promote feelings of calm and improve mental health.
Magnesium taurate is the combination of magnesium and the amino acid taurine. You may recognize taurine as a popular ingredient in energy drinks.
When magnesium and taurine are present in adequate amounts, they can contribute to the regulation of blood sugar levels and promote stable metabolic functions. This combination also encourages normal blood pressure levels and may bolster heart health.
If you’ve ever longed for a warm bath that could help soothe sore muscles, it’s likely that a concerned friend or loved one has suggested the use of this magnesium compound.
Magnesium sulfate is made from combining magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. This type of magnesium closely resembles table salt.
While there’s little evidence to show that adequate amounts can be absorbed through the skin to actually contribute to muscle relaxation any more than the warm water you soak in when you’re taking a bath, it is an understandable assumption, given magnesium’s ability to relax muscles internally.
Magnesium sulfate is typically recommended for digestive relief. However, its taste often sends people in search of another type of magnesium for similar results. It is also occasionally used to treat a condition in fish called dropsy. However, you should also consult a veterinarian for your fish friends the same way you would consult your doctor if you were sick.
How to Get Magnesium in Your Diet
Magnesium occurs naturally in the earth and the sea. It also occurs naturally in plants and animals.
Naturally, we can find it in the foods we consume, but there are some foods that carry a greater load of it than others. If you’re looking to add more magnesium-rich foods to your diet, consider some of these foods:
- Fish - Salmon, mackerel, halibut
- Nuts - Almonds, cashews, peanuts
- Whole grains - Quinoa, oatmeal, whole wheat
- Legumes - Black beans, edamame
- Vegetables - Spinach, kale, avocado, potatoes
- Fun sources - Dark chocolate, popcorn, pumpkin seeds
In addition to these natural occurrences of magnesium, it is often added to cereals and fortified foods to help meet dietary needs for various age groups that might not be getting enough.
Remember, it is possible to eat a healthy diet and still not quite have normal levels of magnesium, especially for more at-risk groups.
Consider talking to your doctor about adding the right magnesium supplement to meet your needs.
Magnesium is an important mineral that your body needs throughout it and all of its systems.
Keeping your levels balanced promotes feelings of wellness, and it is important to consider talking with your doctor about supplementing your magnesium intake if you are concerned that you may have a deficiency.