The effect of magnesium on the body

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What is magnesium

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, without which the body cannot function properly  

The body of an adult contains approximately 25 grams of magnesium , of which 50-60% is found in the skeleton. The rest is present in muscles, soft tissues and body fluids.

This nutrient is essential for hundreds of metabolic processes and many other essential bodily functions – from energy generation to the formation of important proteins such as DNA  .

Magnesium is needed for proper bone growth and maintenance, as well as for the healthy function of nerves, muscles and other parts of the body. Magnesium also helps neutralize stomach acids in the stomach and facilitates the passage of stool through the intestines.

However, despite the importance of this mineral, studies show that almost 50% of people in Western Europe and the United States suffer from magnesium deficiency  . It can therefore be assumed that it will not be otherwise in Slovakia.


Interesting facts about magnesium

  • Fact 1: Magnesium is an alkali metal. Although it does not occur in nature in free form, its compounds magnesite, dolomite and other minerals can be found in large deposits.
  • Fact 2: The word “magnesium” is derived from the Greek city of Magnesia, where magnesium was first discovered.
  • Fact 3: Magnesium is the main ingredient in the home medicine, the epsom salt, also called magnesium sulphate. The name “Epsom” comes from a source in England, where this salt occurs naturally.
  • Fact 4: China provides about 80% of the world’s magnesium production.
  • Fact 5: Magnesium is commonly used in the acute treatment of eclampsia during pregnancy and myocardial infarction.
  • Fact 6: Due to its lightness, magnesium is the 3rd most commonly used structural metal after iron and aluminum.
  • Fact 7: Magnesium ions are acidic. A small amount of magnesium gives the mineral water a slightly sour taste.
  • Fact 8: You need to get an adequate amount of magnesium from your diet to get a good night’s sleep. If the amount of magnesium is too large or small, you may suffer from sleep disorders.



How much magnesium do you need?

In general, the recommended daily dose of magnesium is 200-400 mg, and a magnesium supplement may give you 100% or more of the intake reference value.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the American Institute of Medicine has set an upper limit for supplements containing 350 mg of magnesium per day – if you take smaller amounts, you are unlikely to experience any digestive side effects  

If you are deficient in magnesium, you may need a higher dose. You should consult your doctor before taking a higher dose of magnesium than the recommended daily intake.



Magnesium is a mineral that is present in soil, sea, plants, animals and humans.

About 60% of the magnesium in the body is found in the bones, the rest in the muscles, soft tissues and fluids, including the blood 

Every cell in the human body contains magnesium and needs it to function properly.

One of the main tasks of magnesium is that it acts as a cofactor or helper molecule for enzyme-triggered biochemical reactions.

Magnesium is involved in more than 600 reactions in the human body, including  :

  •     energy production: magnesium contributes to the conversion of food into energy;
  •     protein formation: magnesium plays a role in the formation of proteins from amino acids;
  •     gene conservation: magnesium helps to create and repair DNA and RNA;
  •     Muscular movements: Magnesium is needed to contract and relax muscles.
  •     Nervous system regulation: Magnesium regulates neurotransmitters that send signals to the brain and nervous system.


Unfortunately, studies suggest that approximately 50% of people in Europe and the United States consume less magnesium than their recommended daily intake  .


Magnesium supports the healthy functioning of the brain

Magnesium plays an important role in transmitting signals between the brain and the body.

Magnesium protects N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, which are found in nerve cells and are involved in brain development, memory improvement, and learning ability  

In healthy people, magnesium is found in NMDA receptors. Magnesium prevents weak signals from triggering NMDA receptors, which could unnecessarily irritate nerve cells.

At low levels of magnesium, fewer NMDA receptors are blocked, making these receptors more likely to be stimulated more often than necessary.

Excessive stimulation of NMDA receptors can destroy nerve cells and cause brain damage  


Magnesium helps maintain a healthy heartbeat

Adequate magnesium intake is important to maintain a good heart rate.

Along with magnesium, calcium, which is needed for heart contractions, contributes to the proper function of the heart.

After calcium enters the heart muscle cells, it stimulates the muscle fibers to contract. Magnesium counteracts this effect of calcium by helping to release cells    .

The movement of calcium and magnesium in the heart cells contributes to maintaining a healthy heart rate.

At low levels of magnesium, calcium can overstimulate heart muscle cells. One of the common symptoms of such overstimulation is considered to be a rapid and / or irregular heartbeat, which can be life-threatening  .

In addition, the sodium-potassium pump, an enzyme that generates electrical impulses, also requires magnesium to function properly. Certainly electrical impulses can affect the heart rate  .


Magnesium relaxes muscle contractions

Magnesium is also involved in the regulation of muscle contractions.

As in the heart, magnesium acts as a natural calcium blocker in the muscles, allowing the muscles to relax.

Calcium binds to proteins in the muscles, such as troponin C and myosin. During this process, the proteins change their shape, which in turn causes the muscles to contract  .

Magnesium seeks to take over the calcium binding site so that it can be involved in muscle relaxation.

If the body does not contain enough magnesium, the muscles may contract too much, resulting in muscle cramps and tensi


Therefore, the use of magnesium is commonly recommended to alleviate muscle cramps  

However, studies do not show clear results regarding the ability of magnesium to relieve cramps – some studies have not even shown any effects of magnesium on muscle cramps  


Magnesium regulates sleep 

Magnesium not only contributes to easier sleep, but also helps to sleep deeper and more peacefully.

In one study, the elderly took 500 mg of magnesium or placebo. Participants taking magnesium had better sleep quality than the placebo group.

These participants also showed higher levels of renin and melatonin, two hormones involved in sleep regulation 

These results were confirmed by another study that gave elderly people with insomnia a dietary supplement containing 225 mg of magnesium, 5 mg of melatonin and 11.25 mg of zinc.

Participants in the second study also had better sleep compared to the placebo group. However, it is difficult to estimate the effect of magnesium alone, as the supplement also contained zinc and melatonin  

Another study showed that magnesium deficiency in mice caused light and restless sleep  

These conditions are partly caused by the effect of magnesium on the nervous system. Magnesium prevents irritating molecules from binding to neurons, leading to a calmer nervous system.

However, studies have so far only examined the effects of magnesium supplements in older people with insomnia, so it is not clear whether magnesium would have a beneficial effect on younger people.


Health benefits and effects of magnesium


Magnesium can increase exercise performance

Magnesium also contributes to better exercise performance.

During exercise you need 10-20% (depending on the type of exercise) more magnesium than at rest  

Magnesium helps to transfer sugar to the muscles and destroys lactic acid, which can accumulate d


uring exercise and cause fatigue 

Studies have shown that the use of magnesium can increase performance in athletes, people with chronic diseases and the elderly  

In one study, volleyball players who received 250 mg of magnesium daily experienced better jumping and arm movements  

In another study, athletes who took magnesium for four weeks had less time running, cycling, and triathlon swimming. In addition, participants had reduced insulin and stress hormone levels  

However, the results of the studies are contradictory. Some other studies have not shown any positive effect of magnesium supplements on athletes with low or normal levels of this mineral  



Magnesium fights depression

Magnesium helps with proper brain function and good mood. Low magnesium levels are thus associated with an increased risk of depression  

One survey of more than 8,800 participants found that people under the age of 65 with a magnesium deficiency were 22% more likely to develop depression  

Some researchers argue that a low intake of magnesium in the diet can often cause depression and other mental illnesses 

However, other researchers emphasize the need for further research in this area ).

However, taking this mineral can in any case alleviate the symptoms of depression, and in some cases the results can be incredible 

A randomized controlled trial in depressed adults found that taking 450 mg of magnesium daily improved participants’ mood as effectively as antidepressants 


Magnesium has a beneficial effect on type 2 diabetes

Studies have revealed that 48% of type 2 diabetics have low levels of magnesium in their blood. Lack of magnesium can impair the ability of insulin to keep blood sugar levels normal  

Research also suggests that people with magnesium deficiency have a higher risk of developing diabetes 

One 20-year study with more than 4,000 participants showed that participants who received more magnesium were 47% less likely to develop diabetes  

Another study found that people with type 2 diabetes who received high doses of magnesium daily experienced significant improvements in blood sugar and glycated hemoglobin levels compared with controls  

However, these effects also depend on how much magnesium you eat in your diet. In one study in people with enough magnesium, magnesium supplements did not improve blood sugar or insulin levels  


Magnesium lowers blood pressure

Studies show that taking magnesium can lower blood pressure  

In one study, participants who received 450 mg of magnesium daily experienced significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure  

However, it is possible that magnesium has these effects only on people with high blood pressure.

Another study showed that magnesium reduced blood pressure in participants with high blood pressure, but did not affect participants in normal blood pressure  .


Magnesium has anti-inflammatory effects

Low magnesium intake is associated with chronic inflammation, which causes aging, obesity, and chronic diseases  

In one study, children with the lowest levels of magnesium in the blood had the highest values ​​of the anti-inflammatory marker CRP.

These children also had higher levels of blood sugar, insulin, and triglycerides  

Magnesium supplements can reduce CRP and other inflammatory markers in overweight, pre-sugar, and elderly people .

Likewise, foods high in magnesium, such as fatty fish and hot chocolate, can reduce inflammation.


Magnesium against migraines

Migraine is a debilitating headache that is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and noise.

According to some scientists, people with migraines are more prone to magnesium deficiency than others  

Several studies even suggest that magnesium may prevent migraines and contribute to migraine treatment  .

In one study, taking one gram of magnesium provided people with relief from acute migraine faster and more effectively than conventional medications  .

In addition, foods rich in magnesium can also alleviate the symptoms of migraine 


Magnesium reduces insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is one of the main causes of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

It is characterized by a reduced ability of muscles and liver cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream.

Magnesium plays an important role in the process of sugar absorption, and many people with metabolic syndrome suffer from a lack of magnesium  

In addition, insulin resistance is usually accompanied by high insulin levels, which leads to excessive urinary excretion of magnesium and a consequent decrease in magnesium levels in the body  

Fortunately, increased magnesium intake may help with this condition .

One study found that taking nutritional supplements with this mineral reduced insulin resistance and blood sugar levels, even in people with normal blood levels .


Magnesium alleviates the symptoms of PMS

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is one of the most common problems in women of childbearing age.

Symptoms of PMS include water retention, abdominal cramps, fatigue, and irritability.

Magnesium has been found to improve mood, reduce water retention, and other symptoms in women with PMS  .


Food sources of magnesium

Foods high in magnesium can be remembered by fiber. Foods that are high in fiber usually have a high magnesium content. Food sources of magnesium include, for example, legumes, whole grains, vegetables (especially broccoli, pumpkin and green leafy vegetables), seeds and nuts (especially almonds). Other sources of magnesium are dairy products, meat, chocolate and coffee.

The following foods are a great source of magnesium  :

  •     pumpkin seeds: 46% ODD * in a quarter cup (16 grams)
  •     spinach, cooked: 39% ODD in one cup (180 grams)
  •     Swiss chard, cooked: 38% ODD in one cup (175 grams)
  •     extra hot chocolate (70-85% cocoa content): 33% ODD in 100 grams
  •     black beans: 30% ODD in one cup (172 grams)
  •     quinoa, cooked: 33% ODD in one cup (185 grams)
  •     plaice: 27% ODD in 100 grams
  •     almonds: 25% ODD in a quarter cup (24 grams)
  •     cashew: 25% ODD in a quarter cup (30 grams)
  •     mackerel: 19% ODD in 100 grams
  •     avocado: 15% ODD in medium-sized avocados (200 grams)
  •     salmon: 9% ODD in 100 grams





Possible side effects

Excessive amounts of magnesium ingested from the diet do not pose any health risk to healthy people, as excessive intake of magnesium from the diet is highly unlikely. In addition, the kidneys excrete excess magnesium   . However, high doses of magnesium in the form of nutritional supplements or drugs often cause diarrhea, which can be accompanied by nausea and abdominal cramps  . The forms of magnesium that most commonly cause diarrhea include magnesium carbonate, magnesium chloride, magnesium gluconate, and magnesium oxide   .

Prolonged use of too much magnesium can cause changes in mental status, loss of appetite, weakness, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and heart arrhythmias.

Therefore, do not take magnesium higher than 350 mg without medical advice. 




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