The Mighty Mineral: How Magnesium Supports Our Body and Mind - Benefits, Absorption, and Support for Optimal Health

Did you know:

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in our body?

Magnesium is crucial in more than 300 enzyme reactions to keep our body functioning?

About 60% of the body's magnesium is stored in bone tissue?

Approximately 60% of adults do not meet the recommended daily intake of magnesium worldwide?

2018 study of New Zealand women found that 45% had magnesium intakes below the recommended daily levels?

A 2017 study found that healthy magnesium levels support longevity in older adults?

Certain foods rich in magnesium also contain phytic acid, which can bind to magnesium and reduce its absorption?

Amazing Magnesium in Nature and in Our Body

Magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral that is abundant in the Earth's crust and is found in a variety of minerals, including dolomite, magnesite, and carnallite. It is also present in seawater, where it is the third most abundant element after sodium and chloride.

In the human body, magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral, with an adult body containing around 25 grams of magnesium, primarily in bones and soft tissues (1). Magnesium is involved in a wide range of physiological processes, with more than 300 enzymatic reactions depending on magnesium as a cofactor (2).

These enzymatic reactions include those involved in energy metabolism, such as the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the primary energy currency of the cell. Magnesium is also involved in the synthesis of DNA and RNA, as well as protein synthesis and the regulation of cellular signalling pathways. Magnesium plays a critical role in the function of the nervous system, including the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contraction (3).

Are We Getting Enough?

Magnesium deficiency is a common problem worldwide, and many people do not consume enough magnesium in their diets. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 60% of adults do not meet the recommended daily intake of magnesium (4).

In New Zealand, magnesium deficiency is also a concern. According to a 2012 New Zealand National Nutrition Survey, the average daily magnesium intake for adults was only 280-300 mg, which is below the recommended daily intake of 310-420 mg (5).

Additionally, a 2018 study of New Zealand women found that nearly 20% of participants had magnesium intakes below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) of 255 mg/day, and 45% had intakes below the Adequate Intake (AI) level of 310 mg/day (6).

Magnesium deficiency can be caused by several factors, including inadequate dietary intake, increased magnesium excretion due to certain medical conditions or medications, and gastrointestinal disorders that impair magnesium absorption (3). Magnesium deficiency can lead to a wide range of health problems, including muscle weakness and cramps, fatigue, and cardiovascular and neurological disorders (7).

Keeping Our Magnesium Level in Check as We Age

Aging is associated with several changes that can lead to a decrease in magnesium levels, including changes in magnesium absorption, increased magnesium excretion, and altered cellular magnesium regulation.

As we age, the efficiency of the digestive system decreases, leading to a reduction in magnesium absorption from the diet (8). Additionally, as kidney function declines with age, there is a decreased ability to excrete excess magnesium, leading to an accumulation of magnesium in the body (9). This may lead to an increase in urinary magnesium excretion, resulting in a reduction in total body magnesium levels (10).

Another age-related factor that can lead to a decline in magnesium levels is altered cellular magnesium regulation. This occurs when the body's cells become less sensitive to the effects of magnesium, leading to a decrease in cellular magnesium uptake (3).

Furthermore, older adults may be more likely to have diets that are low in magnesium, which can exacerbate magnesium deficiency (11).

In addition to these factors, certain medications commonly used by older adults, such as diuretics and proton pump inhibitors, can also increase magnesium excretion and decrease absorption (12).

Can Low Magnesium, in Turn, Contribute to Our Ageing Process?

Magnesium plays an essential role in various physiological processes that decline with age. Studies suggest that sufficient magnesium may support the healthy aging process and age-related health (3).

Sufficient magnesium has been linked to support several age-related conditions, including heart health, bone health, insulin balance, and cognitive health (13). A 2017 study found that healthy magnesium levels support longevity in older adults (14).

In addition, magnesium supplementation has been shown to improve some age-related conditions. For example, a 2013 study found that magnesium supplementation improved bone mineral density in older women with osteoporosis (15). A 2016 study also found that magnesium supplementation improved cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (16).

Magnesium-Rich Foods and How Much Do We Need

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the recommended daily intake of magnesium for adult men 30 years and above is 420 mg/day, while 320 mg/day is recommended for adult women in the same age group.

Some good food sources of magnesium include:

• Almonds: 1 oz. (28 grams) provides 80 mg of magnesium

• Spinach: 1/2 cup cooked (78 grams) provides 78 mg of magnesium

• Avocado: 1 medium avocado (200 grams) provides 58 mg of magnesium

• Black beans: 1/2 cup cooked (86 grams) provides 60 mg of magnesium

• Dark chocolate: 1 oz. (28 grams) provides 64 mg of magnesium

• Other sources of magnesium include whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables.

It's important to note that the amount of magnesium in foods can vary depending on factors such as soil quality and processing methods. Additionally, certain foods, such as whole grains and leafy greens, contain phytic acid, which can bind to magnesium and reduce its absorption (17). Therefore, it may be difficult to obtain optimal levels of magnesium from the diet alone.

Magnesium-Rich Foods and How Much Do We Need

Supports Muscle and Nerve Function

Magnesium plays an important role in supporting muscle and nerve function. Specifically, magnesium is involved in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, including the heart muscle. Magnesium also supports the regulation of nerve impulses and the release of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which are important for mood and well-being.

Studies have shown that magnesium supplementation can support muscle function and muscle relaxation. For example, a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that magnesium supplementation supported improved muscle function, strength and density in elderly women (18).

Another study published in the Journal of Pain Research found that magnesium supplementation supports reduced frequency and severity of muscle tension in athletes (19).

It's also worth noting that magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle weakness and cramps. In severe cases, magnesium deficiency can cause muscle spasms and even seizures. (20)

Supports Bone Health

Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays an important role in supporting bone health. Magnesium is needed for the proper absorption and metabolism of calcium, another mineral that is critical for strong bones. In fact, about 60% of the body's magnesium is stored in bone tissue.

Studies have shown that magnesium supplementation can support improved bone density, strength, and integrity. For example, a meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled studies found that magnesium supplementation supports significantly increased bone mineral density in postmenopausal women (21). Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that higher magnesium intake was associated with a lower risk of hip fractures in men and women (22).

Supports Energy Production

Magnesium is a crucial mineral that plays a significant role in the production of energy in the body. Specifically, magnesium is involved in the process of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production, which is the primary source of energy for the cells in our body. In addition, magnesium is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, which are all critical sources of energy.

Studies have found that magnesium supplementation can support improved energy levels and reduce fatigue. For example, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that magnesium supplementation supports improved physical performance and reduced perceived exertion in healthy older adults (18). Another study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that magnesium supplementation supports improved endurance performance in athletes (19).

Supports Mood Balance

Magnesium plays an important role in supporting mood balance and brain function. It is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters and the regulation of stress hormones, which are both important factors in mood balance.

Research has suggested that magnesium supplementation may be effective in supporting better mood and mind relaxation. For example, a study published in PLoS One found that magnesium supplementation was effective in supporting reduced symptoms of depression in adults with mild-to-moderate depression (23). Another study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that magnesium supplementation supported improved symptoms of anxiety in older adults with type 2 diabetes (24).

Supports Heart Health

Magnesium is a vital mineral that plays a significant role in supporting the health of the heart. It has several benefits for heart health, such as supporting a healthy heart rhythm and healthy cholesterol levels.

One of the key benefits of magnesium for the heart is its ability to support healthy heart rhythm. Studies have suggested that magnesium supplementation may support regular heartbeats in individuals with such concerns (25).

Magnesium has also been shown to have a positive supportive effect on cholesterol levels, particularly in individuals with blood sugar level concerns. A study published in the journal Nutrients found that magnesium supplementation supported reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in individuals with blood sugar conditions (26).

Antioxidant Defense

Magnesium also plays a vital role in supporting the body's antioxidant defence system. Antioxidants are compounds that help protect the body against damage caused by free radicals, which are harmful molecules that can cause oxidative stress and damage to cells.

Research has suggested that magnesium can support enhanced antioxidant activity in the body (27). One study found that magnesium supplementation supported increased activity of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) in individuals with low magnesium levels (28). Another study found that magnesium supplementation supported improved antioxidant capacity in healthy individuals (29).

Magnesium's support to enhance antioxidant activity can help protect the body against various diseases, supporting a healthy heart, blood sugar levels and cell lifecycle regulation.

Supports Healthy Blood Pressure

Magnesium plays a role in supporting regulated blood pressure and maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Studies have suggested that magnesium supplementation can have positive support for blood pressure.

A meta-analysis of 22 randomized controlled studies found that magnesium supplementation supported both reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure (30). Another study found that magnesium supplementation for eight weeks supported a significant reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (31).

Magnesium's ability to support healthy blood pressure levels may be due to its ability to support relaxed blood vessels, which can lead to improved blood flow and lower blood pressure.

Supports Insulin Sensitivity

Magnesium plays a crucial role in supporting regulated insulin sensitivity, which is the ability of cells to respond to insulin and take up glucose from the bloodstream. Insulin sensitivity is an essential factor in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.

Studies have suggested that magnesium supplementation can support improved insulin sensitivity in individuals with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. One study found that magnesium supplementation for four months supported improved insulin sensitivity in individuals with type 2 diabetes (32). Another study found that magnesium supplementation for six months supported improved insulin sensitivity in overweight individuals with insulin resistance (33).

Magnesium's ability to support insulin sensitivity may be due to its role in regulating glucose metabolism and its ability to reduce inflammation, which can contribute to insulin resistance.

Why Organic Magnesium Salts Matter?

Magnesium is available in both organic and inorganic forms, with organic forms being generally considered more easily absorbed and utilized by the body than inorganic forms.

Organic magnesium supplements include magnesium citrate, magnesium amino acid chelate, magnesium orotate, and magnesium aspartate. These forms of magnesium are found in our bodies or in natural food sources. They are often bound to amino acids or organic compounds, which may enhance their bioavailability and absorption in the body (1).

In contrast, inorganic forms of magnesium, such as magnesium oxide, exist in minerals and are not bound to organic compounds and may have lower bioavailability and absorption rates than organic forms (34).

Studies have shown that organic forms of magnesium, particularly magnesium citrate, may have better absorption and utilization by the body than inorganic forms like magnesium oxide (35).

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