Magnesium is an important mineral in the body and is also the fourth most abundant one. There is an important role of magnesium in the body to carry out many cellular reactions. These reactions are involved many benefits, such as helping in muscle contraction, brain functions, regulating blood pressure, blood glucose, and the immune system.
Although the mineral is vital for maintaining good health, many people lack proper magnesium in their diet and cannot achieve the daily recommended amount. This deficiency can increase the risk of diseases such as depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, and heart disease.
Magnesium levels in your blood can be measured and might be ordered by your doctor if there is suspicion of magnesium deficiency. If your diet does not provide enough magnesium, your doctor may advise you to take magnesium supplements.
The article intends to explain the role of magnesium in the body to maintain vital functions and overall health. It also highlights the consequences of magnesium deficiency.
Role Of Magnesium In The Body
Magnesium is one of the macro minerals that we need to consume in a relatively good amount to maintain vital functions of the body. There is an important role of magnesium in the body to carry out cellular reactions required for glycolysis, oxidative phosphorylation, and energy production.
Some of the common functions of magnesium are explained as follows.
Brain function and health
Magnesium helps in the transfer of nerve impulses, resulting in relaying signals between the brain and body. This happens as magnesium causes the active transport of ions such as calcium and potassium across cell membranes.
Magnesium is also present in the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, where it acts as the gatekeeper and prevents a weak signal from stimulating the nerve cells when it is not required. Overstimulation of NMDA receptors can stimulate nerve cells, resulting in the death of nerve cells, resulting in brain damage.
Thus, there is a role of magnesium in the body for proper brain functioning and helps with cognitive functions.
The infusion of calcium in the cardiac cells is responsible for generating the heartbeat. This influx is regulated by magnesium and inhibits excessive influx, reducing the heart rate. When there is a lack of magnesium, there is an excessive influx of calcium, resulting in an increased heart rate or irregular heartbeat called cardiac arrhythmia.
Additionally, magnesium regulates the function of the sodium-potassium pump, which plays an important role in the generation and transfer of electrical impulses that cause cardiac contraction. Magnesium deficiency can cause this pump to fail, resulting in cardiac failure and arrhythmias.
A deficiency of magnesium can increase the risk of the following diseases:
- Hypertension: Studies have shown that taking magnesium decreases blood pressure. This is achieved by causing relaxation of the blood vessels, reducing the pressure.
- Congestive heart failure: Magnesium deficiency has been found in people suffering from congestive heart failure. Additionally, magnesium deficiency can worsen clinical symptoms associated with heart failure.
- Heart attack: Lower magnesium levels increase the risk of mortality associated with the heart attack. Furthermore, magnesium has strong anti-inflammatory properties, which prevent the formation of clots, reducing the risk of a heart attack.
- Stroke: It has been found that 100 mg per day of magnesium intake reduces the risk of stroke by 2%.
Regulation of muscle contractions
Like in the heart, magnesium blocks calcium entry into the muscle cells, resulting in muscle relaxation. Magnesium deficiency can cause excessive calcium entry into the cells, causing muscles to contract excessively, resulting in muscle spasms and cramps. Therefore, magnesium is also used for the treatment of muscle spasms.
Magnesium helps to maintain bone health by regulating calcium and vitamin D metabolism. It has been found that magnesium is important for healthy bone formation and reduces the risk of osteoporosis in women after menopause.
Magnesium helps in the regulation of brain function and, ultimately, mood. So, when there is magnesium deficiency, it causes mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
Some studies have also shown that taking magnesium supplements reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety and has been found to be as effective as antidepressant drugs. However, further study is required to recommend the magnesium supplement for mental health disorders.
Furthermore, magnesium supplements have been found to improve symptoms associated with premenstrual syndromes (PMS), such as abdominal bloating, mood symptoms, and breast tenderness.
There is a role for magnesium in the relaxation of the mind and body. This relaxation results in improved sleep quality and getting asleep faster.
Additionally, magnesium regulates melatonin production, which is a biochemical compound regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Magnesium also binds to gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) receptors, which provide calming and soothing effects, helping to get a good quality sleep. Poor sleep is a major health problem around the world, and eating foods rich in magnesium can be a good alternative for better sleep.
Prevent migraine headache
A low level of magnesium has been found in people suffering from migraine headaches, and magnesium supplements have been found to be effective in the prevention of migraines.
Magnesium deficiency can cause constriction of blood vessels in the brain, which has been considered one of the causes of migraine headaches.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, people use 400-500 mg of magnesium per day for the prevention of migraines. However, it is recommended to use this therapy under the guidance of a doctor, and further study is required in this field for a regular recommendation.
Blood sugar control in diabetes mellitus
Magnesium regulates the activity of insulin and helps in the movement of sugar from the blood into the cells. Furthermore, the insulin receptors in the cells need magnesium to work properly. Hence, if there is magnesium deficiency, it can increase the blood sugar levels in patients suffering from diabetes mellitus.
Additionally, it has been found that low magnesium levels in patients suffering from diabetes mellitus can further worsen blood sugar levels.
So, magnesium supplements in patients suffering from diabetes mellitus can help improve the blood sugar level and symptoms associated with diabetes mellitus.
However, the effectiveness has been found only in short-term studies, and a long-term study is required to advise magnesium supplementation in diabetes mellitus.
Dietary Sources of Magnesium
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of magnesium is 400-420 mg for men and 310-320 mg for women. Many people cannot fulfill this daily recommended intake, but magnesium is available in different food types that you can include in your diet to fulfill the requirements. However, you should be aware of your allergy status to particular foods. You can test your food sensitivity through home-based AFIL test kits, which are convenient to use.
Magnesium-containing diet foods from various groups, such as nuts and seeds, and dark green vegetables, Some specific foods rich in magnesium are mentioned below:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Black beans
- Dark chocolate
- Soy milk
- Whole wheat bread
- Low-fat yogurt
If you cannot fulfill your magnesium levels from dietary sources, you can take supplements, which are widely available and well tolerated. However, you need to talk to your doctor before taking magnesium supplements as they may interact with other medications such as antihypertensives and antibiotics. Also, you should not take zinc with magnesium as zinc may interfere with magnesium absorption.
Magnesium supplements are available in the following forms:
- Magnesium Glycinate
- Magnesium Gluconate
- Magnesium Citrate
Magnesium deficiency due to low dietary consumption in normally healthy individuals is usually asymptomatic as the kidney maintains the blood magnesium level by reducing its excretion. However, there are certain conditions that can cause symptomatic magnesium deficiency.
Some of the risk factors for magnesium deficiency are:
- Habitual low intakes
- Chronic alcoholism
- Excessive loss due to certain health conditions
- Side effects of certain medications
- Diabetes mellitus
- Gastrointestinal disorders
Some common symptoms of magnesium deficiency are:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness and fatigue
Symptoms of severe magnesium deficiency are:
- Numbness, and tingling sensation
- Muscle spasms, and cramps
- Personality changes
- Arrhythmias or irregular heart rhythms
- Coronary spasms
Magnesium is an important macromineral required by the body to carry out vital functions. There is a role for magnesium as a co-enzyme for various cellular reactions, and it also provides a range of other functions.
The major roles of magnesium in the body are the regulation of brain health, cardiac health, mental health, bone health, and muscle contraction. It also provides protection against diseases such as heart attack, stroke, arrhythmias, depression, anxiety, diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, and congestive cardiac failure.
So, magnesium must be included in our regular diet to avoid these conditions and maintain overall health. Magnesium is present in food of all varieties, such as nuts, legumes, grains, seeds, and green vegetables. If you cannot fulfill your magnesium requirement from the diet, you can consider taking supplements. However, you should discuss it with your doctor before taking magnesium supplementation.
Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue are common symptoms of magnesium deficiency. You can check your blood magnesium levels and consult your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
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