Magnesium is an essential mineral – one of sixteen of the most important minerals that the body needs to function optimally. As a macromineral, you need a larger daily dose of magnesium than you would of trace minerals, such as iodine or chromium (although these are just as important!).
Main Roles of Magnesium in the Body
- With over half of the magnesium in your body stored in your bones, magnesium is essential for the growth and preservation of strong, healthy bones. Although the current research shows that vitamin D and calcium are the two most vital supplements in bone formation and maintenance, magnesium works closely with these so that the bone obtains all of their benefits. A study on animals has shown that when deprived of magnesium in the diet, animals developed osteoporosis, a disease in which sufferers are affected by a loss of bone density. While it has not been proven yet, this suggests that magnesium may play a significant role in preventing or managing bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
- Magnesium is active in over three-hundred biochemical reactions. Every cell in the body is composed of the mineral, and it is necessary to ensure the body functions as it should.
- Works to regulate heart rhythm, and, for this reason, may be given to pregnant women suffering from high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).
- Improves bowel function, and is considered an effective remedy for constipation. If you suffer from constipation, ask your doctor about using a magnesium supplement as a mild laxative.
- Neutralises stomach acid. People suffering from chronic heartburn (dyspepsia) as a symptom of indigestion should get relief from magnesium, as it works as an effective antacid in the body, relieving the discomfort in your chest and upper abdomen.
- Required for the functioning of the muscular and nervous system. It is not entirely understood how magnesium works within these systems, but it is thought that the mineral helps to transmit nerve impulses between the brain and body and to relax the muscles. Magnesium is often suggested as an alternative treatment for a range of illnesses that affect the nervous and muscular systems, and while more studies are needed to ascertain that these uses of the mineral are effective, there are many people who claim to have improved symptoms from its supplementation. Muscular conditions that it may be beneficial for include fibromyalgia, migraines, restless leg syndrome, and premenstrual syndrome cramps. Its role within the nervous system suggests that it may also have a relaxing effect on the mind as well as the body, and may be beneficial for anxiety, depression, and mental and physical exhaustion caused by high-stress levels.
Although it is difficult to measure, doctors and health experts suspect that magnesium deficiency may be quite common. Provided you are a healthy individual, you can easily ingest enough magnesium by eating a balanced diet filled with green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts and high-fibre foods. In cases where magnesium deficiency is suspected because of poor diet or compromised health from illness or alcohol abuse, magnesium supplements may be advised.