Health Benefits of Magnesium

Written by eHealth Navigator

Magnesium plays a vital role in more than 300 enzymes in the human body, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  These enzymes help regulate the production of energy, make proteins, and contract and release muscles.  Magnesium also is responsible for maintaining bone and heart health and it helps manage our blood sugar.

Although physicians have known of magnesium's role in maintaining heart and bone health for a long time, they’ve only recently begun to appreciate that magnesium is critical for the nervous system as well.  The risk of memory loss, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative disorders skyrockets when we’re magnesium deficient according to nutritionists.

Magnesium is essential to maintain the health of our parasympathetic nervous system, the part that relaxes us and keeps us calm.  So anyone who suffers from migraines, seizures, anxiety, depression or chronic stress can likely benefit from magnesium supplementations.

With so many important functions in the body, it’s clear that we need to get enough magnesium.  The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 300 to 400 milligrams; which is a good starting point.  Green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains are a good source of this important mineral, but because soils used to grow crops are often depleted of magnesium, it can be hard to get optimal amounts from food alone.  As a result, magnesium supplementation is more important in patient therapy than many healthcare providers realize.

How do you know if you’re deficient in magnesium? Symptoms may include muscle twitches, cramps, tension and soreness.  Constipation, difficulty swallowing menstrual cramps and noise sensitivity can also mean you’re lacking magnesium.  In the central nervous system, symptoms can include numbness, tingling, insomnia, anxiety and heightened PMS symptoms.  The cardiovascular system can also be affected: Arrhythmias, heart palpitations and high blood pressure can result.

Blood tests are not the best way to determine magnesium levels in the body due to only one percent of magnesium is found in blood.  The rest is in bone, body tissue and organs but the body works very hard to keep blood levels of magnesium constant. The best determination is paying attention to magnesium deficiency symptoms indicating the need for, and a subsequent improvement from, a therapeutic trial of supplementing magnesium.

If you’ve decide to take a supplement, you’ll want to check with your doctor and start at the RDA and working your way up until your symptoms are improved or resolved.  And although it’s not a magic pill, it’s one very key part of the health equation that can’t be ignored.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 1:43PM