Why You Need Magnesium: Benefits & How to Prevent Deficiency
Magnesium is a mineral that’s rarely talked about, even though it’s crucial for almost every function of your body.
Magnesium helps support your heart health, your bone density, to regulate your nervous system, calcium levels and to event prevent scary symptoms like dizziness and seizures.
The recommended intake of magnesium is 350 milligrams a day, which can look like two cups of whole wheat flour, two cups of boiled spinach, 2-3 cups of cooked quinoa, or around 150 grams of almonds.
Keep reading to find out why you need magnesium, the symptoms of magnesium deficiency, and how to get more magnesium in your day to day for a healthy, well-balanced life.
1. Improves Heart Health
Magnesium is incredibly important when it comes to your heart health. Magnesium helps maintain control of cholesterol and blood pressure, regulates your heart rhythm, and may even improve your odds of surviving heart disease and heart attacks.
Nature’s own calcium channel blocker is magnesium. When there is enough magnesium around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax, lessening resistance and improving the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Studies show that not only is a deficiency of magnesium associated with a heart attack but that immediately following a heart attack, a lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injury to the heart.
Ensuring you’re getting enough magnesium can help you improve your heart health and lower blood pressure. Magnesium plays a part in reducing elevated blood pressure by relaxing the muscles that control blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely.
Learn more in Are You Really Vitamin or Mineral Deficient?
2. Regulates Calcium
Magnesium helps regulate nerve and muscle tone by balancing the action of calcium. In many nerve cells, magnesium serves as Nature’s own calcium channel blocker, preventing calcium from rushing into the nerve cell and activating the nerve. By blocking calcium’s entry, magnesium keeps our nerves (and the blood vessels and muscles they innervate) relaxed.
If our diet provides us with too little magnesium, however, calcium can gain free entry, and the nerve cell can become over activated, sending too many messages and causing excessive contraction. Insufficient magnesium can contribute to high blood pressure, muscle spasms (including spasms of the heart muscle or the spasms of the airways symptomatic of asthma), migraine headaches, as well as muscle cramps, tension, soreness and fatigue.
3. Improves Bone Density
Magnesium plays an important role in the formation of bones, which is especially important as we get older. Our bones naturally become more brittle and prone to breaking as we age, so one of the main reasons why we need enough magnesium in our daily diet is to help improve bone density. Magnesium, as well as calcium, is necessary for healthy bones. About two-thirds of the magnesium in the human body is found in our bones. Some helps give bones their physical structure, while the rest is found on the surface of the bone where it is stored for the body to draw upon as needed.
And it’s not just important for women, but for older men too. Making magnesium and zinc-rich foods a diet staple is important for bone mineral density for everyone. Although osteoporosis is often thought to be a disease for which postmenopausal women are at highest risk, it is also a potential problem for older men. Almost 30% of hip fractures occur in men, and 1 in 8 men over age 50 will have an osteoporotic fracture.
In fact, a study of almost 400 men ranging in age from 45-92 that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a clear correlation between low dietary intake of magnesium and zinc, low blood levels of the trace mineral, and osteoporosis at the hip and spine. No matter your age or your gender, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough magnesium in your diet every single day.
4. Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
It’s clear that magnesium is a crucial part of many bodily functions, so what does it look like if we’re not getting enough?
The symptoms of magnesium deficiency can vary greatly, which makes it tricky to diagnose and it’s very detrimental to your overall health because magnesium is important for bone formation, heart rhythm regulation, muscle relaxation, nerve function and so much more.
Magnesium deficiency can cause a wide variety of issues, from confusion to insomnia, irritability, rapid heartbeat and seizures. The list of symptoms goes on, including depression, dizziness, muscle weakness, and twitching.
Magnesium deficiency also contributes to constipation because the mineral relaxes the intestinal muscles. All of these are very good reasons to get more magnesium in your diet!
Learn more in Magnesium Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes & Remedies.
5. Sources of Magnesium
Magnesium comes from a wide variety of food sources, but most diets are sorely lacking in magnesium for the simple fact that you need to eat whole, healthy foods to get enough of it.
Most diets these days are chock full of processed food that has had the magnesium (along with other nutrients and minerals) removed, making it hard to get enough magnesium from your diet.
Some people resort to supplements, but as with any nutrient, getting it from fresh whole foods is always better. Not only is the mineral more potent in food, but supplements often come with binding agents and other additives that are irritating to your body and can be toxic.
Your body understands magnesium from fresh, whole foods and knows what to do with it. Choose the following foods every day to make sure you’re getting enough magnesium:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Brazil nuts
- Navy beans
In fact, a one cup serving of navy beans provides all the magnesium your body needs for the day. Add more whole grains into your diet for both more magnesium intake, and more fibre and nutrients overall.
6. Ways to Get More Magnesium
If it’s proving to be tricky to get enough magnesium through food, there are still healthy, natural ways to restore your magnesium levels. Magnesium oil can be applied topically or absorbed through the skin to very quickly top up magnesium levels in the body.
Magnesium bath flakes are a great way to relax in a hot bath while also helping your body absorb much-needed magnesium. They’re also incredible at relieving sore muscles and various skin conditions, as a bonus. A soak once or twice a week can help ensure your body is getting the magnesium it needs.
Learn more in the Health Benefits of Bath Salts & How to Make Your Own.
Getting enough magnesium in your diet is as simple as first and foremost, incorporating more whole foods into your diet (while cutting out processed junk), and then adding regular magnesium baths to your Self Care routine.
Do these things and you won't have to worry about magnesiums deficiencies and the spin off effects to your health.Tolman Self Care.