Magnesium: Your Body’s Vital Mineral (and Why So Many of Us Are Deficient)

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When you consider the minerals our bodies need, many people think of sodium (salt), potassium, and calcium. But magnesium is perhaps the most important mineral of all.   

From supporting DNA structure to maintaining bone health, magnesium takes part in over 600 enzymatic reactions in our bodies and is essential for proper functioning of many of our bodily systems.*

Simply put, magnesium helps your cells communicate and work together, helping to keep your body functioning at an optimal level.  

Without magnesium, your cells can't make energy, your nerves and muscles (including your heart) won't work properly, and your blood vessels and arteries will harden over time.

A little over half of your magnesium resides in your bones and plays a crucial role in bone metabolism. The rest is stored in muscle and other soft tissue.*

While this mineral is vitally important, many have low magnesium levels. By some estimates, more than 70% of adults are deficient.  

Today I’m sharing the causes and consequences of low magnesium levels, as well as the best ways to get your magnesium into the healthy range.   

Why Are So Many People Magnesium Deficient? 

There are two primary reasons that such an overwhelming majority of adults are deficient in magnesium. The first is that we don’t typically get enough of it in our diets. The highly processed foods many people eat on a daily basis contain little to no magnesium.

Leafy greens like kale and spinach, cacao, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and quinoa are all relatively good sources of magnesium, but still you would need to eat a lot of these foods on a daily basis to get the amounts of magnesium needed for optimal health.

In addition, there are many other factors that can decrease your body's magnesium levels, including poor digestion, stress and certain medications.

Second is that most doctors don’t catch this deficiency since it isn’t easy to test for - less than 1% of your body's magnesium is actually found in the blood. The other 99% is found in bone and muscle tissue, making it nearly impossible to diagnose using standard lab tests.*

And even if you’re eating these foods every day, your body is only absorbing 30%-40% of the magnesium.* This makes it difficult to meet your daily needs without supplementation. 

Additionally, a variety of common digestive disorders and other conditions like blood sugar, liver and kidney issues can also contribute to poor magnesium absorption.*

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency 

Since a magnesium deficiency can’t be detected through a standard lab test, you need to be alert to the common symptoms including:*  

  • Muscle cramping and pain
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Frequent headaches or migraines
  • Heart rhythm changes
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritability or moodiness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Food cravings – especially for sweets and chocolate

If you have any of these symptoms—and especially if you have several of them—you need to take action right away to boost your magnesium levels.

The Wide Variety of Health Benefits of Magnesium Supplementation 

If magnesium levels are low, this can contribute to a wide variety of health issues.

And since achieving healthy magnesium levels through diet alone can be quite difficult, healthy magnesium levels may require taking a magnesium supplement.   

Here are six significant, scientifically-proven benefits of maintaining healthy magnesium levels.   

1.     Heart Health

Low magnesium can contribute to coronary artery problems and other cardiovascular issues.  

Thankfully, supplementing with magnesium can support heart function. One study found magnesium supplementation to have beneficial effects on the three common lipid tests performed to evaluate cholesterol health – LDL, HDL, and triglycerides.* 

This study also showed the benefits of magnesium on systolic blood pressure readings and fasting glucose levels.*

2.     Bone Health 

Since most of our magnesium is stored in our bones, low magnesium levels can reduce bone formation, bone mass, and accelerate bone weakness increasing the risk of fractures.*

When supplemented, magnesium has been shown to improve bone mineral density and reduce fracture risk.

Researchers have also found magnesium supplementation to be a helpful prevention strategy when it comes to reducing fractures and overall bone and muscle frailty.** 

3.     Blood Sugar Control

Magnesium supplements have been studied to see if they can help support healthy blood sugar levels. A 2016 study evaluated the impact magnesium had on blood sugar and found significant improvements in fasting glucose.* 

4.     Mood and Sleep Support

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to fatigue and mood issues. In one study, participants who were given a magnesium supplement showed significant symptom improvements in both mood and anxiety in just two weeks.* And by helping with mood balance, magnesium can also help resolve many sleep issues as well.* 

5.     Muscle Mass and Soreness

Magnesium plays a big role in skeletal muscle health. Supplementing with magnesium can help reduce age-related skeletal muscle mass loss. Magnesium supplementation can also help reduce muscle soreness and reduce recovery time after exertion which can be especially helpful for those who are active or exercise regularly.**

6.     Neutralizing Inflammation 

Magnesium is also used to help reduce muscle aches and pains due to the effect magnesium can have on reducing inflammation.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a blood test often done to evaluate the level of circulating inflammation in the body – the higher the CRP value…the more inflammation. Researchers evaluated 11 studies and found that magnesium helped reduce CRP levels.*    

Magnesium may also help regulate oxidative stress which can help bring balance between oxidants and antioxidants. This balance helps to reduce the risk of free radical damage which can cause inflammation (and accelerate aging).*

What to Look for in a Magnesium Supplement

There are many different forms of magnesium available so it can difficult to choose the right one.   

Magnesium oxide is cheap and popular, but it is poorly absorbed so you’re only benefiting from a small amount of the magnesium.* 

While you can get more benefit out of magnesium citrate, this form can have a very unpleasant laxative effect (and is hence commonly used to treat constipation and bowel prep for select procedures).*  

Magnesium carbonate, another popular form of magnesium, can also have a laxative effect which can further deplete you of vitamins and minerals - defeating the purpose of supplementing in the first place.

When looking for your next magnesium supplement, there are two different forms that are both highly bioavailable and gentler on the stomach – magnesium glycinate and magnesium malate.*

Magnesium supplementation can support a number of chronic concerns and support general well-being. Finding the right supplement can make the difference when trying to maintain healthy magnesium levels.

Mighty Mg is a unique magnesium supplement that features a highly absorbable blend of the glycinate and malate forms of magnesium that won't cause the unpleasant and bothersome laxative effects that is all too common with other types of magnesium supplements. To learn more about Mighty Mg, click here.

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