The Health Benefits of Magnesium - Calm the Muscles, Mind and Acne
Magnesium - The Invaluable Mineral
Magnesium is a macromineral that is present in large amounts in our body; about 25 grams in the body of an adult. It is the fourth most abundant mineral in our body.
It can also be called an electrolyte as it is lost in our sweat, the same way as, potassium, sodium, chloride etc are lost.
Magnesium is required in the performance of over 300 biochemical reactions in our body. Over 300 different enzymes need magnesium to carry out their functions.
Our bones contain about 60-65% magnesium while the muscles about 25% with about 6-7% being there in the cells. Just about 1% of magnesium is present in our blood. This is why a blood test for magnesium does not reflect correctly the levels of magnesium in the body. Most times, the serum levels show magnesium in normal limits and hence give a false report of the amount of magnesium in the body.
Magnesium helps in the production and use of energy, production of hormones that are vital to performance, controls important body functions and helps in the proper contraction and relaxation of muscles.
The importance of magnesium can also be realized from the fact that a deficiency of magnesium causes low blood calcium and low potassium.
The heart, kidneys, liver, nervous system, endocrine system, muscles, digestive system and brain, all need magnesium to function properly. It is, therefore, natural to conclude that magnesium, plays a vital role in preventing diseases and conditions that we encounter every day, either by hearing about it or experiencing it ourselves.
Magnesium converts Vitamin D into its active form so that calcium can be absorbed. It is also needed for the metabolism of calcium and also regulates calcium transportation.
Calcium controls contractions while magnesium controls the relaxation of the muscles. Also, though magnesium is needed by the body to absorb calcium, it also competes with calcium to get itself absorbed. Hence, it is critical to keep both calcium and magnesium levels optimum in the body.
Magnesium is not made in the body and hence the importance of getting it from our diet or supplementation becomes all the more necessary. It needs to be stressed here that magnesium deficiency is widespread and therefore it is necessary to realize the importance of maintaining optimum magnesium levels in our body.
Food Sources Of Magnesium
The recommended daily requirements of magnesium are :
- 1 - 3 years old: 80 milligrams
- 4 - 8 years old: 130 milligrams
- 9 - 13 years old: 240 milligrams
- 14 - 18 years old (boys): 410 milligrams
- 14 - 18 years old (girls): 360 milligrams
Adult males - 400 to 420 milligrams
Adult females - 310 to 320 milligrams
Pregnancy -: 350 to 400 milligrams
Breastfeeding women: 310 - 360 milligrams
Out of the very many diseases and conditions that magnesium deficiency manifests, I list here 12 of them that are very common and their relation to magnesium.
1. Magnesium And Weight Loss
Magnesium is necessary for the metabolism of the B complex vitamins. These vitamins are needed for making enzymes and again magnesium is also needed to activate the enzymes needed that control digestion, absorption and utilization of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
When magnesium is deficient proper assimilation of nutrients is hampered, leading to overeating and obesity. Overeating is also the result of the body craving the nutrients that it misses. However, overeating of the wrong foods causes an intake of more calories and hence gain in weight.
Processed foods, as an example, are the cause of obesity as they fall short of the necessary nutrients while being high in calories, both of which lead to an increase in weight.
When the levels of magnesium are optimum, the proper metabolism of the B complex vitamins is ensured. This gives a feeling of fullness, controls overeating and weight gain. The increased energy production (because of the right amount of magnesium in the body), helps to increase body activity too and aids in weight loss.
Also, as magnesium helps in the absorption of glucose into the cells for energy production it prevents glucose levels to rise and get stored as fat.
Calcium and Magnesium for Osteoporosis
2. Osteoporosis And Magnesium
A study published in the Journal Of The American Geriatric Society( November Vol 53, No11, pp 1875-1880) on aged 70 to 79-year-old volunteers, showed that a higher intake of magnesium increased the bone mineral density in men and women.
Magnesium has also been shown to help in calcium metabolism and maintaining proper calcium balance in the body.
Magnesium And Depression
3. Magnesium And Depression
Magnesium helps in the production and maintaining the function of serotonin, the chemical that gives the 'feel good' feeling.
A deficiency of magnesium can cause an increase in anxiety and depression and accompanying nervous symptoms.
Magnesium supplementation cures stress, anxiety, panic attacks and the like.
4. Fibromyalgia And Magnesium
Fibromyalgia is not a disease but a syndrome, a collection of symptoms. There are widespread pains and tenderness of joints. Sleep disturbances are frequently leading to constant tiredness or fatigue that does not go away with rest.
Additionally, those with fibromyalgia suffer from headaches, depression, IBS, anxiety etc.
Magnesium is a natural nerve and muscle relaxant, It helps in reducing pain, fatigue, insomnia, cramps, stress etc.
5. Magnesium And Pregnancy
Magnesium levels need to be optimum at all times. This becomes all the more critical in pregnancy; in fact, they have to be optimum even before birth. Magnesium prevents premature contractions, reduces the risk of the growing foetus from suffering cerebral palsy and sudden infant death syndrome.
Symptoms like leg cramps, insomnia, mood fluctuations, fluid retention, backaches experienced during pregnancy are symptoms of magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium sulphate has been a treatment of choice to prevent pre-eclampsia and eclampsia; toxaemia of pregnancy.
A limit of 350 mg of magnesium has been advised for pregnant women. Pregnant women should, however, consult their doctor before starting magnesium supplementation.
6. Magnesium For Migraine
Stress can result in tension headaches leading to tightening of the neck muscles and scalp muscles. Magnesium helps in relaxing these tension headaches and also migraine by:
- relaxing the blood vessels helping them to enlarge thus reducing the contractions and spasms that cause migraine.
- balancing the brain neurotransmitters.
- preventing build-up of lactic acid, by relaxing muscles which also reduces pain.
- preventing excessive clumping of platelets which form tiny clots that can block the blood vessels and lead to painful conditions.
7. Magnesium For Constipation
Magnesium sulphate due to its osmotic effect in the intestines, pulls water from the other tissues, into the intestines and stimulates peristalsis to relieve constipation. This study was published in the Magnesium Research Magazine, 1996 issue.
Magnesium citrate has the same laxative effect and clears the bowels in a couple of hours.
8. Magnesium And Asthma
Magnesium improves the lung capacity and function thus improving the breathing function, reduced risk of airway hyperreactivity and reduced wheezing.
It also improves the response of the bronchi to methacholine, the chemical that causes the constriction of the bronchi.
9. Magnesium And Obesity
Magnesium regulates the nervous system. When magnesium is deficient, the nervous system gets over stimulated causing stress.
Stress causes release of adrenaline and cortisol. Excess of these are known to cause weight gain and obesity apart from other health issues.
To prevent stress, optimum levels of magnesium are very necessary.
Magnesium And Diabetes
10. Magnesium For Diabetes
Diabetes results from either insufficient production of insulin or the inefficient use of insulin. A deficiency of magnesium causes insulin and glucose levels to rise in the blood. The excess glucose gets stored as fat as magnesium that is needed to push this glucose into the cells for energy production, is found wanting.
Excess of insulin and glucose leads to diabetes especially type 2 diabetes. Frequently, low levels of magnesium are seen in those with type 2 diabetes.
11. Magnesium For Arthritis
Calcitonin is a hormone that promotes the deposition of calcium into the bones and teeth while at the same time preventing the deposition of calcium in the joints and other soft tissues.
The production of calcitonin is stimulated by magnesium. An absence of magnesium prevents any calcium from being deposited in bones and teeth. It has been found that those with decaying teeth and osteoporosis have low levels of magnesium in their bones & teeth.
In arthritic conditions, excess calcium is found in the joints but not sufficient in the bones. So when magnesium is supplemented, the calcitonin so produced removes calcium from the joints and deposits in the bones.
12. Magnesium And Acne
Magnesium balances the hormones; hormonal imbalance is one cause of acne. Magnesium also reduces stress and is anti-inflammatory in action. It also cures constipation which again is one of the causes of acne.
Magnesium citrate removes water from skin & tissues. Therefore, in those with oily skin, it reduces excess moisture.
For treating acne, it is better to 1 part magnesium and 2 parts calcium and takes this with vitamin C to make it more bioavailable.
Some Health Problems Due To Magnesium Deficiency
- Heart Disease
- High BP
- Kidney Stones
- Irregular Heart Beat
Some General Symptoms Of Magnesium Deficiency
- Lack Of Appetite
- Muscle Cramps
- Chronic Pain (Back Pain/Muscular Pain)
- Sleep Problems
Some Magnesium Facts
- Cooking & processing destroys magnesium even in high magnesium foods.
- Processing of foods like grains removes 80-97% magnesium, of oils and sugar removes all magnesium.
- Sugar, coffee, alcohol, and high protein in diet cause reduced magnesium levels in the body.
- Magnesium deficiency reduces vitamin D effectiveness.
- Calcium intake without magnesium is a health risk.
- Calcium to magnesium ratio is vital.
- Our diet is deficient in magnesium.
- Magnesium deficiency causes childhood obesity.
- Vitamin D helps in the absorption of magnesium. Hence it is better to consume a combination of Vitamin D & magnesium.
- Vitamin B complex is needed for optimum absorption of magnesium.
- Magnesium is better absorbed when consumed with food.
- Magnesium oxide is poorly absorbed when consumed with food.
- Calcium should be consumed along with magnesium as both help to build bones. Also, calcium helps to control to some degree the laxative effect of magnesium.
Some Good Dietary Sources Of Magnesium
Sea vegetables and green leafy vegetables, Kale has the highest levels of magnesium while swiss chard, boiled spinach, celery, mustard greens, collard greens, have good amounts.
Nuts especially almonds and cashews, seeds of pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and flax are rich in magnesium.
Whole grains, including spelt, whole wheat bread, rice and wheat germ are also good sources.
Fruits like bananas, avocados and dried apricots contain good levels of magnesium.
Fish like mackerel and halibut; as also cocoa and molasses are also rich in magnesium.
Some Factors That Cause Magnesium Deficiency Are
- Certain medications for heart disease and asthma, birth control pills, diuretics.
- Sodas and caffeinated beverages.
- Processed foods.
- Low magnesium diets.
- Calcium supplements.
- Soft water.
Factors That Can Increase susceptibility To Magnesium Deficiency
- Alcohol consumption.
- Digestive disorders.
- Psychological stress or stress due to surgery, liver disease or burns.
Benefits Of Magnesium Supplements
The fact that magnesium is a part of hundreds of functions and also that the majority of the human population consumes a diet that is deficient in magnesium (according to a report by the WHO), it becomes imperative that magnesium supplementation is resorted to.
The benefits of magnesium supplements and their different types are:
- Oral Supplements
As these supplements have to pass through the digestive tract they have varying degrees of absorption from 4 to 50%.
Salts of magnesium like magnesium oxide, magnesium hydroxide, magnesium carbonate, magnesium phosphate, magnesium sulphate, magnesium bicarbonate and magnesium chloride.
Magnesium chloride has the highest bioavailability while magnesium oxide has the lowest. That with high bioavailability should be chosen.
- Magnesium Acid Complexes often called as Organic Salts Of Magnesium
These types of supplements have acids bonded to magnesium; some of them are :
Magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, magnesium glutamate, magnesium aspartate, magnesium malate, magnesium gluconate etc. These are readily absorbed.
Magnesium aspartate and magnesium glutamate are best avoided as they break down into neurotransmitters aspartic acid & glutamic acid respectively. These acids if not bound to other amino acids become toxic.
- Amino Acid Magnesium Chelates
In this magnesium is bonded to an amino acid-like magnesium glycinate. Magnesium glycinate, magnesium taurate etc are the most expensive type of magnesium salts. They are easily absorbed by the body.
- Topical or Transdermal Magnesium
This form of magnesium is applied to the skin and it gets absorbed directly into the cells. This is the best form of magnesium supplementation for those who suffer side effects with the oral one.
Topical magnesium is of 4 types :
Magnesium oil - A solution of magnesium chloride and water.
Magnesium gel - mainly used for massage. It contains a compound called glide that provides the gliding ability to the gel.
Magnesium bath flakes or Epsom Salt - used for mixing in the bathwater.
Magnesium lotion or cream - for those with sensitive skin, since it has a low concentration of magnesium.
The benefits of magnesium supplements are that they provide a safe and effective way to ensure adequate intake of magnesium.
The organic salt chelate, that is, magnesium citrate powder is the best for general use and is cheap and readily absorbed.
Choose the supplement that suits you best in terms of convenience, bioavailability and absence of side effects.
- Britton, John, et al. Dietary magnesium, lung function, wheezing, and airway hyper-reactivity in a random adult population sample. The Lancet, Vol. 344, August 6, 1994, pp. 357-62
- Source: Journal of Asthma
February 2010, Volume 47, Issue 1, Pages 83-92
"Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on measures of airway resistance and subjective assessment of asthma control and quality of life in men and women with mild to moderate asthma: a randomized placebo controlled trial"
Authors: A.G. Kazaks, J.Y. Uriu-Adams, T.E. Albertson, S.F. Shenoy, J.S. Stern
- http://drcarolyndean.com/2011/08/magnesium-arthritis/ - A personal account.
- "Journal of the American College of Nutrition:" Inhibitory effects of zinc on magnesium balance and magnesium absorption in man; H. Spencer et. al; October; 1994
- "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:" Magnesium intake and plasma concentrations of markers of systemic inflammation and endothelial dysfunction in women; Yiqing Song et. al.; April, 2007
- Acne Resource Center Online: Vitamin treatments for acne
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
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An Excellent Video Explaining The Benefits Of Magnesium
Benefits Of Magnesium
Calcium & Magnesium
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly