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Magnesium: What Is It and Why Do You Need It?
Magnesium is found throughout the body and your cells need it to carry out their functions. However, many people do not have enough magnesium in their diet, which can lead to a deficiency after an extended amount of time.
Here are some reasons why you need magnesium, what a magnesium deficiency looks like, and how you can make sure you’re getting enough of this mineral.
Why You Need Magnesium
Magnesium is Needed for Brain Function
Magnesium acts as a “gatekeeper” for receptors that are involved in brain development and memory, which work to prevent nerve cells from being overstimulated. When these nerve cells are overstimulated, it can lead to the cells dying and brain damage.3
Magnesium Helps Maintain a Healthy Heartbeat
Magnesium, along with calcium, is important when it comes to your heart and its contractions.
Calcium stimulates muscle fibers in the heart to make it contract; magnesium does the opposite and helps the muscles relax.3
If you have low levels of magnesium or have an imbalance, the calcium may be too stimulating for the heart and you may have an irregular or rapid heartbeat.
Magnesium Regulates Muscle Contractions
Just as magnesium plays a role in the heart muscles, it also helps regulate muscles throughout the rest of the body.
Calcium binds to proteins in the muscles, which causes the muscles to contract. Magnesium then competes with calcium for these binding spots, which allows your muscles to relax. Because magnesium is what helps your muscles relax, it is often suggested by doctors when someone is experiencing muscle cramps.4
Without enough magnesium in your body, muscles may cramp or spasm because they are not able to compete with the calcium and perform this process properly.
Other Health Benefits of Magnesium
- Magnesium can aid in bone health. Magnesium can improve your bone mineral density, which decreases your risk of fractures and osteoporosis.6
- Magnesium may help you sleep better. Magnesium helps regulate melatonin production, which is a hormone that plays a role in your sleep and its cycle.
- Magnesium supports a healthy blood sugar. Magnesium helps to regulate insulin by moving sugar out of the blood and to the cells for proper storage.
- Magnesium may decrease your risk of experiencing migraines. Low levels of magnesium can lead to inflammation, which can result in a migraine.2
Because magnesium is essential for many processes in the body such as muscle and nerve function, you want to make sure you’re getting enough magnesium each day.
Some health conditions can affect the way your body absorbs or excretes magnesium. For example, there are certain factors and health concerns that may put individuals at risk for developing a magnesium deficiency.7 Some of these include:
- Eating a low-magnesium diet
- Gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s or celiac disease
- Having type 2 diabetes
- Taking certain medications including diuretics and antibiotics
If someone has low levels of magnesium, it is unlikely that they will experience symptoms right away. However, if someone has low levels of magnesium for an extended period of time, symptoms may begin to show and they may have a deficiency.
Some of the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include:
- Muscle spasms
- Abnormal eye movements8
How to Prevent Magnesium Deficiency
The amount of magnesium you need in a day depends on your age and gender. It has been found that most people in the United States do not get enough magnesium.9
Magnesium is found naturally in a lot of foods, which can ensure that you get enough of this mineral. Some foods that have magnesium include:
- Whole grains
- Green vegetables
- Fruits, such as bananas and avocados
- Nuts and seeds
- Nut butters, such as peanut butter
- Fortified foods with magnesium added, including cereals
- Mineral and bottled waters10
Learn More Today
Take the time to learn more about magnesium and how it can affect your body. As you can see, magnesium is essential for different processes in the body and it can also provide health benefits.
To learn more about Saber Healthcare and the services we provide, click here.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- Megan, Ware. “Why do we need magnesium?” Healthline Media, Medical News Today. January 6th, 2020. Accessed February 8th, 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286839.
- Harrar, Sari. “Why Magnesium is Good for Brain Health.” American Academy of Neurology, brainandlife.org. Accessed February 9th, 2022. https://www.brainandlife.org/articles/why-magnesium-is-good-for-brain-health/.
- Raman, Ryan. “What Does Magnesium Do for Your Body?” Healthline Media, healthline.com. June 9th, 2018. Accessed February 8th, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-does-magnesium-do.
- “Muscle cramps and magnesium deficiency: case reports.” National Library of Medicine, pubmed.gov. Accessed February 8th, 2022. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8754704/.
- Link, Rachael. “12 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Magnesium.” Healthline Media, healthline.com. February 7th, 2022. Accessed February 8th, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/magnesium-benefits.
- “Minerals for Bone Health.” American Bone Health, americanbonehealthorg. September 28th, 2016. Accessed February 9th, 2022. https://americanbonehealth.org/nutrition/minerals-for-bone-health/.
- Crichton-Stuart, Cathleen. “How can I tell if I have low magnesium?” Healthline Media, Medical News Today. June 20th, 2018. Accessed February 9th, 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322191.
- “Magnesium deficiency.” National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus. Accessed February 9th, 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000315.htm.
- “Magnesium fact sheet for consumers.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health. Accessed February 9th, 2022. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/.
- “Magnesium fact sheet for health professionals.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health. Accessed February 9th, 2022. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/.