13 Benefits of Magnesium That Could Change Your Life
Antioxidants may get all the headlines, but magnesium may just be your health MVP.
Get the scoop on the benefits of magnesium
“The mineral magnesium supports so many functions in our body to keep us healthy,” says Stacey Antine, MS, RDN, founder of HealthBarn USA and author of Appetite for Life. “Research suggests that magnesium supports muscle and nerve function, helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and improves bone health. Many people aren’t as aware of this powerhouse because it’s overshadowed by other minerals such as calcium or vitamin D.”
Keep blood sugar levels in check
If you’re at risk of developing diabetes — or already have it — this may be one of the most important magnesium benefits for you. Several studies have indicated that higher magnesium levels reduce your risk of developing diabetes and that among those who have diabetes, increasing intake of the nutrient helped improve blood sugar levels.
Build stronger bones
While many people know that calcium and vitamin D are essential for building bones, few realize that magnesium is just as important. In fact, boosting calcium levels without adding in magnesium could be less effective — and could actually increase the possibility of developing heart disease. “In bone health, it’s important to keep a balance of 2:1, of calcium to magnesium,” Antine says. “If you are supplementing with a calcium supplement that doesn’t contain magnesium, you may be disturbing the 2:1 balance.”
Lower blood pressure
One of the biggest benefits of magnesium is that it lowers your blood pressure. However, if you haven’t yet developed hypertension, don’t load up on magnesium as a preventive — studies show that adding the nutrient doesn’t impact blood pressure levels in people who already have a normal blood pressure.
Could magnesium be the key to stopping your migraine in its tracks? Some research indicates that people who have chronic migraines may also be magnesium deficient and that supplementing with magnesium could help minimize migraine symptoms and reduce the amount of pain the headaches cause.
Improve your athletic performance
Professional athletes stock up on the kinds of foods that are rich in magnesium, and here’s why. Research shows that magnesium plays two key roles in helping you perform better: It helps fuel your muscles by enhancing the flow of glucose to them and helps your body get rid of lactic acid (a byproduct of exercise that can lead to post-workout stiffness). Both these processes help you stay energetic through a long workout.
Reduce stress levels
The benefits of magnesium extend to your mental health, too. Several studies have found that magnesium could help reduce stress and anxiety symptoms. That’s not surprising that stress and magnesium levels are connected, Antine says: “Stress is a factor in reducing levels of magnesium. If you crave chocolate when you’re feeling under pressure, there could be a good reason: Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium.
Improve your mood
If you suffer from depression, your diet could play a role in improving your symptoms. Research has linked magnesium deficiencies with an increased likelihood of developing depression — and several studies have found that magnesium supplementation may work as well as anti-depressant medications to improve symptoms.
Boost your memory
Magnesium benefits your nervous system by helping your body regulate the neurotransmitters that send messages to muscles and organs. Some studies suggest that increasing your magnesium intake boosts your memory and could even help reduce the memory lapses that become more prevalent as we age.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to everything from an increased risk of cancer to cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses. And taking in enough magnesium could go a long way toward quelling inflammation. In fact, studies have found that chronic inflammation often goes hand in hand with magnesium deficiencies — and that boosting magnesium intake improves the symptoms.
Quell ADHD symptoms
Some studies have found that children diagnosed with ADHD were more likely to have magnesium deficiencies — and a few small studies have shown promise that magnesium supplementation could reduce hyperactivity symptoms in people with ADHD.
Make sure you’re getting enough magnesium
About half of Americans aren’t getting adequate levels of magnesium in their diet. If you’re concerned that your levels are low, consider getting tested. “Do a full assessment — dietary recall and blood work — of your diet and the nutrient intake and see if additional magnesium is needed,” Antine suggests. “Following the RDA recommendation for healthy individuals is adequate.” Antine cautions against going above and beyond the recommended daily amount, however. “There is research to suggest that magnesium can be toxic at high doses, so talk with your physician before supplementing.”
Add magnesium to your diet
“Leafy greens, spinach, nuts, whole grain cereals, beans, peas, and soybeans are good sources,” Antine says. “If these foods are part of your daily dietary intake, you should have adequate magnesium levels.” Dark chocolate can be a decadent way to access the benefits of magnesium — just three ounces can give you a third of your recommended daily allowance.