Magnesium is a mineral that is vital for optimal health, and your body requires it for thousands of different biochemical reactions. As a result, various organs and bodily functions can suffer quite profoundly if your diet does not contain enough magnesium. In spite of this, experts on nutrition believe that up to 90% of the population may not be regularly getting their recommended daily intake of magnesium. Certain foods are rich in magnesium, including whole grains (such as brown rice), fish, leafy green vegetables and almonds, but you may not be eating enough of these. Although you have probably heard that you can benefit from a diet that is richer in magnesium (or from supplements that contain magnesium), you may not know just why this mineral can be so important for your physical health. Read on to discover twelve interesting and profoundly important reasons why a higher intake of magnesium could help to improve and extend your life.
1) It may reduce the frequency and severity of migraines:
There is now a lot of support for the claim that magnesium can help to afford migraine sufferers significant relief, with several large double-blind studies showing that daily magnesium supplements can reduce attack frequency by more than 41%. It is currently thought that magnesium helps to discourage migraines because of the role that it plays in regulating nerve and muscle tone. It keeps nerves (as well as the surrounding blood vessels) relaxed and prevents the unnecessarily excessive contractions that can cause or exacerbate migraine headaches.
2) It reduces your risk of developing diabetes:
In 2004, scientists at Harvard showed that people who are deficient in magnesium are more likely to end up suffering from type 2 diabetes. It is thought that this is because magnesium promotes proper carbohydrate metabolism and influences blood sugar levels. One study found that every 100mg of magnesium decreases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by around 15%.
3) It is essential for bone formation:
Magnesium is vital for the development and maintenance of healthy bones. It aids your body in absorbing calcium and helps to give your bones their structure. A range of studies have shown that if you are deficient in magnesium, the subsequent alterations to calcium metabolism put you at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis (i.e. brittle bones that can easily fracture). This makes magnesium especially important for your health if you are a postmenopausal woman, as you are in the highest risk category for osteoporosis.
4) It can positively influence mood:
Some studies support the claim that magnesium can help to reduce levels of tiredness, depression, and irritability. Regarding depression, in particular, one study performed in 2008 found magnesium supplements to be just as effective as antidepressants when it came to treating depression in diabetics. There is also some evidence that it can have a positive impact on people who suffer from panic attacks or problems with anxiety, though research is ongoing.
5) It may reduce the discomforts associated with premenstrual tension:
Several different research projects on women’s health have shown that supplements containing magnesium can help with a range of physical problems that plague many women just before the onset of menstruation each month. Specifically, magnesium lessens bloating, water retention, breast pain, and sleep problems. Combining magnesium with vitamin B6 seems to be even more effective.
6) It improves your cardiovascular health:
Firstly, magnesium helps your heart by relaxing your blood vessels. When your blood vessels are relaxed, your blood flow is improved, and you are less likely to suffer from irregular heart rhythms or palpitations. Secondly, a recent study has revealed that people who begin eating a diet that is rich in magnesium (as well as potassium) reliably exhibit a reduction in blood pressure after a mere two months. On average, this drop is over five systolic points and three diastolic points. Finally, regularly taking supplements that contain magnesium appears to lower levels of bad cholesterol by up to 20%. As a result, a healthy intake of magnesium is linked to a reduced likelihood of suffering from a stroke or developing heart disease.
7) It can reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia:
Recent research on the treatment of fibromyalgia has shown that magnesium appears to decrease pain and tenderness if regularly taken for at least two months. However, this small study is yet to be supported by further research on this chronic condition, so its findings currently remain contentious.
8. It promotes muscle and nerve relaxation:
If you are deficient in magnesium, you can end up with uncomfortable muscle spasms or cramps due to over-excitation of nerves. This is because magnesium plays an important role in stopping calcium from over-activating cells.
9) It helps to keep your blood sugar under control:
Magnesium promotes healthy blood sugar by influencing both the production and activity of insulin. This may explain the aforementioned connection between magnesium and a reduction in your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
10) It may help to discourage certain forms of hearing loss:
Recently, a very interesting study on aural health discovered that regularly taking magnesium appears to help prevent hearing loss that results from exposure to extremely loud noise.
11) It may help insomniacs:
Magnesium appears to help the group of insomniacs whose sleeping problems are related to restless leg syndrome (i.e. a condition that involves uncomfortable and jarring leg sensations).
12) It can help to treat preeclampsia and eclampsia:
Preeclampsia involves dangerously high blood pressure that develops in the later months of pregnancy, while eclampsia involves seizures in addition to high blood pressure. This very serious condition can be fatal, but magnesium can help to stop preeclampsia from turning into eclampsia (and can also treat the seizures that accompany eclampsia).
As is obvious from the above health benefits, a healthy intake of magnesium is very important to your physical health. However, if you want to start taking magnesium supplements, it is always a good idea to discuss this with your doctor before making a final decision. This is because magnesium supplements are not suitable for people with certain health conditions (such as kidney disease) and because they are also capable of interacting with certain medications in an undesirable way.