Magnesium is a crucial element for overall health and biological function. As the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, it is involved in over 3,750 different binding sites on proteins and is necessary for more than 300 enzymes to function correctly. The importance of magnesium in various biochemical processes is vast, including, but not limited to:
- ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production, the energy source for your body
- Blood vessel relaxation
- Muscle and nerve function, including heart muscle activity
- Formation of bones and teeth
- Blood sugar and insulin sensitivity regulation, critical in preventing type 2 diabetes[3,4] (In a study, prediabetics with the highest magnesium intake significantly reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes)
The Consequences of Magnesium Deficiency
Insufficient cellular magnesium can lead to the decline of cellular metabolic function, which may result in more severe health issues. These problems may include migraine headaches[6,7], anxiety and depression (magnesium acts as a catalyst for mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin), fibromyalgia, cardiovascular disease, sudden cardiac death, and even death from various other causes.
Magnesium also plays a part in your body’s detoxification processes (including the synthesis of glutathione) and is vital for minimizing damage from toxic exposures. Perhaps most importantly, magnesium is essential for optimizing your mitochondria, which can significantly influence your health, cancer prevention, and overall energy and athletic performance.
The Connection Between Magnesium and Mitochondrial Health
Mitochondria are small bacteria-derived organelles within your cells. Your organs require energy to function correctly, and that energy (i.e., adenosine triphosphate or ATP) is primarily produced in the mitochondria. An increasing amount of evidence suggests that most health problems can be traced back to mitochondrial dysfunction. Therefore, ensuring that your mitochondria receive the necessary nutrients and precursors for optimal performance is crucial for health, disease prevention, and exercise performance.
Magnesium plays a vital role in mitochondrial health; without magnesium, other strategies aimed at improving mitochondrial health may not be effective.
For instance, athletic performance partly depends on your oxidative capacity — the ability of your muscle cells to consume oxygen. Oxidative capacity relies on your mitochondria’s ability to produce ATP by consuming oxygen within the cell.
You can enhance your oxidative capacity in two ways, both of which require magnesium:
- Increase the total number of mitochondria in your cells through exercise. However, for new mitochondria to be created, you must have sufficient amounts of magnesium.
- Improve the efficiency of your mitochondria to repair damage and produce ATP. This process also requires magnesium as a cofactor.
Determining Your Magnesium Needs
Organic, unprocessed foods are generally the best source of magnesium. However, the magnesium content of food depends on the soil in which the plant was grown, so even organic foods may not guarantee high magnesium levels. Most soils have become severely nutrient-depleted, leading some magnesium experts to believe that nearly everyone needs supplemental magnesium.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium ranges from 310 to 420 mg per day, depending on age and gender. Some researchers suggest that 600 to 900 mg/day may be necessary for optimal health.
Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of “The Magnesium Miracle,” recommends using your intestinal reaction as a marker for your ideal dose. Begin by taking 200 mg of oral magnesium citrate daily and gradually increase your dose until you develop slightly loose stools.
Sources of Magnesium
It’s important to include magnesium-rich foods in your diet. Some of the best sources of magnesium include:
- Leafy greens (spinach, Swiss chard, and kale)
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds)
- Legumes (black beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans)
- Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat)
- Fish (salmon, mackerel, and halibut)
- Dark chocolate
If you need to supplement your magnesium intake, you have several options to choose from. Some common types of magnesium supplements include:
- Magnesium citrate: Highly bioavailable and has a mild laxative effect
- Magnesium glycinate: Highly bioavailable and less likely to cause digestive issues
- Magnesium malate: A good choice for people with fatigue or fibromyalgia
- Magnesium taurate: Recommended for cardiovascular health
- Magnesium threonate: Shows potential for improving cognitive function and brain health
When supplementing, keep in mind that magnesium can interact with certain medications, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and proton pump inhibitors. Consult with your healthcare provider before beginning a magnesium supplement regimen, especially if you are taking medications or have existing health conditions.
I Recommend My Patients Supplement With Magnesium Essentials
I formulated Magnesium Essentials to provide three unique forms of highly absorbed magnesium to ensure maximum absorption of this important macromineral.
Most magnesium supplements use only a single source of magnesium, which can easily overwhelm a single pathway of absorption and limit the uptake of high-dose magnesium regimens. Magnesium Essentials takes advantage of three unique pathways of absorption by providing magnesium as di-magnesium malate, magnesium citrate, and magnesium glycinate for enhanced absorption, and improved utilization and gastrointestinal comfort.
Some individuals, who take other forms of magnesium supplements, often experience GI side effects, including gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of these symptoms. The forms of magnesium used in Magnesium Essentials preserve GI comfort while maximizing absorption and restoring magnesium levels in the body.
Magnesium and Stress
Magnesium plays a significant role in managing stress, as it helps regulate the stress response system. When your body experiences stress, it releases stress hormones like cortisol, which can lead to magnesium depletion. Low magnesium levels may, in turn, exacerbate stress and its symptoms, creating a vicious cycle. Ensuring adequate magnesium intake can help maintain a healthy stress response and promote relaxation.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient that supports overall health and well-being. Including magnesium-rich foods in your diet and supplementing if necessary can help prevent deficiencies and support various bodily processes, including energy production, stress management, and cognitive function.
Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any supplement regimen, especially if you are on medications or have existing health conditions.
- Magnesium – Health Professional Fact Sheet
- Mitochondrial Mg2+ homeostasis decides cellular energy metabolism and vulnerability to stress – PMC
- Influence of magnesium on insulin resistance in obese women
- Association of Serum Selenium, Zinc and Magnesium Levels with Glycaemic Indices and Insulin Resistance in Pre-diabetes: a Cross-Sectional Study from South India
- Magnesium intake decreases Type 2 diabetes risk through the improvement of insulin resistance and inflammation: the Hisayama Study
- Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraines
- Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium
- Responses of the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to interleukin-6: a pilot study in fibromyalgia
- Magnesium – Consumer Fact Sheet
- [Long-term HRV analysis shows stress reduction by magnesium intake]