Keeping track of all the minerals and vitamins our bodies need to thrive can be difficult but necessary. These nutrients play key roles in our bodily functions, keeping everything running smoothly without a hitch and retaining balance from within. While magnesium has become a popular mineral in recent years for its sleeping benefits, it plays an important role in several other areas that keep us healthy.
What is magnesium?
Much like zinc, magnesium is a mineral in the body that can be found naturally in a wide range of foods, supplements, and medicines. Our bodies require magnesium since it’s a cofactor in over 300 enzyme systems that regulate biochemical reactions in the body. These reactions range from blood glucose control and blood pressure regulation to protein synthesis and muscle and nerve function.
Magnesium is also necessary for energy production, glycolysis (when glucose is broken down to produce energy), and oxidative phosphorylation (when energy is harnessed for the production of ATP, an energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of living things). It also contributes to the development of our bones, the transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, muscle contraction, nerve impulse conduction, and a normal heart rhythm.
What are magnesium’s benefits?
With magnesium playing a key role in several of our biological functions, it’s no surprise the number of benefits it provides to our bodies. We need magnesium for optimal functionality across several areas of our bodies, including our heart, muscles, and nerves. Magnesium also helps support our bone health, too.
Outside of our internal processes, magnesium is also tied to our mental health. This mineral can help our neurological pathways that can lead to disorders, including anxiety and depression, when they are not functioning properly. Other studies have shown that lower magnesium levels can be linked to increased depression. It’s also leveraged for its benefits when it comes to providing a night of restful sleep.
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Magnesium is also often prescribed to those who experience migraines, with some studies showing low magnesium levels in individuals who suffer from them. It’s also used to help regulate blood pressure and help with cardiovascular disease, as well as assist enzymes that regulate our blood sugar and insulin activity to aid those with Type 2 diabetes.
How can we get our daily dose of magnesium?
When we are deficient in magnesium – though rare – this can cause an abnormal heart rate, fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting, skin numbness, poor appetite, and seizures. Our magnesium levels can be lowered by drinking too much alcohol, coffee, or soda, overeating salt, excessive sweating, heavy periods, and prolonged periods of stress.
Magnesium naturally occurs in a wide variety of produce, including winter squash and Brussels sprouts, collard greens, leafy greens including swiss chard and spinach, okra, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, broccoli, celery, fennel, and corn. When it comes to fruit, persimmons and dates, bananas, plums, and tamarinds, you’ll also find magnesium in nuts, including almonds and cashews; dark chocolate, sea moss, legumes including beans, lentils, and peas; whole grains, including barley, oats, and wheat; hemp; fish, including mackerel and salmon, as well as tofu.
In addition to foods and produce that contain natural amounts of the mineral, you can also get your dose of magnesium through supplements. For men, receiving 400 to 420 milligrams of magnesium is recommended. For women, between 310 to 320 milligrams are expected. For pregnant women, the amount increases to between 350 to 360 milligrams, and for breastfeeding women, it drops back down to 310 to 320.
It should be noted that while getting too much magnesium from naturally occurring sources like produce isn’t necessarily a concern for healthy adults, high doses of this mineral from supplements or medications can cause side effects, including abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and nausea. In addition, magnesium in supplements can also interfere with certain kinds of antibiotics and medications, so it’s best to consult your doctor before you begin ingesting these supplements.