Magnesium plays a role in over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body, including the metabolism of food, synthesis of fatty acids and proteins, and the transmission of nerve impulses. The human body contains around 25 gram of magnesium, 50 to 60 percent of which is stored in the skeletal system. The rest is present in muscle, soft tissues, and bodily fluids.
Magnesium is an essential mineral and also an electrolyte. What is magnesium used for in the human body? Some of the main functions of magnesium include:
- Regulating blood pressure
- Keeping bones strong
- Balancing nitric oxide in the body
- Supporting growth and development in babies and children
- Supporting proper function of nerves, muscles, and tissue
- Neutralizing stomach acid
- Moving stools through the intestine and preventing constipation
- Magnesium also makes the process of photosynthesis possible by helping to form chlorophyll, the chemical that allows plants to capture sunlight and turn it into energy
Although we only need small amounts of magnesium relative to other nutrients, we must regularly replenish our stores, either from foods or magnesium supplements, in order to prevent deficiency symptoms. That’s because the body loses stores of magnesium every day from normal functions, such as muscle movement, heartbeat and hormone production.
- Proper nerve function: magnesium helps activate and maintain proper nerve function. It also counteracts the negative effects of excessive calcium on the muscles and nerves.
- Mental and physical relaxation: magnesium may help quiet down nerve activity since it regulates the body’s neurotransmitters. This helps alleviate anxiety, depression and stress, allowing your mind and body to relax.
3. Can Reduce Blood Pressure: studies show that people with high blood pressure may experience improvements when supplementing with this mineral. One review of 22 studies found that supplementing with an average of 410 mg of magnesium daily was associated with a 3–4 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and a 2–3 mm Hg drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number).
4. May Reduce Heart Disease Risk: low levels of magnesium have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.This may be because low levels of this mineral negatively affect risk factors for heart disease like blood sugar control and blood pressure. A recent review of 28 studies concluded that magnesium supplements positively affected some heart disease risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and fasting blood sugar.
5. Helps with Digestion by Relieving Constipation: magnesium helps relax muscles within the digestive tract, including the intestinal wall, which controls your ability to go to the bathroom. Because magnesium helps neutralize stomach acid and moves stool through the intestines, taking magnesium supplements is a natural way to help you poop!
6. Relieves Muscle Aches and Spasms: magnesium has an important role in neuromuscular signals and muscle contractions. When you don’t acquire enough magnesium, your muscles can actually go into spasms and cramp. Magnesium helps muscles relax and contract and also enables you to move around.
Magnesium supplements are available in a variety of forms. The absorption rate and bioavailability of magnesium supplements differs depending on the kind; usually types that dissolve in liquid are better absorbed in the gut than less soluble forms. It’s believed that magnesium in citrate, chelate and chloride forms are absorbed better than magnesium supplements in oxide and magnesium sulfate forms.
- Magnesium Chelate — highly absorbable by the body and the kind found in foods naturally. This type is bound to multiple amino acids (proteins) and used to restore magnesium levels.
- Magnesium Citrate — magnesium combined with citric acid. Magnesium citrate may have a laxative effect in some cases when taken in high doses, but is otherwise safe to use for improving digestion and preventing constipation.
- Magnesium Chloride Oil — an oil form of magnesium that can be applied to skin. It’s also given to people who have digestive disorders that prevent normal absorption of magnesium from their food. Athletes sometimes use magnesium oil to increase energy and endurance, to dull muscle pain, and to heal wounds or skin irritation.
- Magnesium Glycinate— highly absorbable, this is recommended for anyone with a known magnesium deficiency and less likely to cause laxative effects than some other magnesium supplements.
Recommended Daily Allowance of Magnesium:
How much magnesium should you take per day? Keep in mind that magnesium needs vary on different individual factors, like your age and gender. According to the NIH, below are the current RDAs for magnesium:
- Infants–6 months: 30 milligrams
- 7–12 months: 75 milligrams
- 1–3 years: 80 milligrams
- 4–8 years: 130 milligrams
- 9–13 years: 240 milligrams
- 14–18 years: 410 milligrams for men; 360 milligrams for women
- 19–30 years: 400 milligrams for men; 310 milligrams for women
- Adults 31 years and older: 420 milligrams for men; 320 milligrams for women
- Pregnant women: 350–360 milligrams
- Women who are breastfeeding: 310–320 milligrams
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, it’s best to take about 300–400 mg daily at most. For children, magnesium is safe when taken in doses of between 65 to 100 mg/day depending on age, or up to 350 mg/day for children older than 8 years.
Best magnesium sources:
- Cooked spinach: 157 mg in a 1-cup serving
- Pumpkin seeds: 150 mg in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving
- Cooked black beans: 120mg in a 1-cup serving
- Cooked quinoa: 118 mg per one cup
- Cashews : 82 mg in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving
- Almonds: 80 mg in one ounce
- Dark chocolate: 64 mg in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving
- Dry buckwheat: 65 mg in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving
- Dry buckwheat: 65 mg in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving