Magnesium is an often overlooked mineral that plays a key role in hundreds of physiological processes. A lack of magnesium is behind many common ailments that people are all too quick to ascribe to other potential causes. If you’re the type that reads labels, you probably know magnesium is an important ingredient in OTC laxatives.
But preventing constipation is not its only metabolic role. Magnesium is also crucial for healthy bones and preventing type II diabetes. And without magnesium, our heart would not perform up to its capabilities. It’s time to shine a light on magnesium and the central role it plays in our nutrition and overall wellbeing.
What Can Magnesium Do For You?
We touched on a few magnesium benefits in the opening. Now let’s take a closer look at some of the most important benefits of a magnesium supplement.
- Reduces the risk of a heart attack – Magnesium plays a central role in regulating your heartbeat. It’s been shown to even out heartbeats in cases of cardiac arrhythmia, and can be useful for those who’ve suffered congestive heart failure.
- Strengthens bones – Everyone knows calcium is important to bone health. But few know that magnesium is nearly as important. The body uses magnesium to build bones, and magnesium helps regulate calcium usage. Magnesium supplements can help fend off osteoporosis.
- Regulates blood glucose – Studies conducted at the prestigious Harvard Medical School indicate magnesium plays an important role in regulating blood glucose. This is crucial in helping prevent the development of Type II diabetes.
- Reduces the risk of stroke – Numerous health studies suggest that people with adequate magnesium levels in their blood have a lower risk of suffering a stroke than those that are magnesium deficient.
- May reduce the risk of asthma – Studies in Canada and Brazil strongly suggest that those who are magnesium deficient have a greater risk of developing asthma. This is apparently true for both children and adults.
- Improves mood – Magnesium is now known to play an important role in the production of serotonin. Low serotonin levels have long been associated with clinical depression.
What Are Signs of Magnesium Deficiency?
Signs of magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps, anxiety, insomnia, lack of energy, high blood pressure and depression.
Types of Magnesium Supplements
Magnesium comes in numerous different forms. While some of these forms provide similar benefits (such as promoting regularity and digestive health) others provide specific benefits, such as helping prevent memory loss. Here are the various types of magnesium supplements and their generally recognized uses.
- Magnesium malate – Magnesium is involved in energy production and regulation. As is malic acid. Magnesium malate is a compound that fuses the two and is believed by many researchers to enhance the effectiveness of both.
By takingmagnesium malate, it is believed you will have greater amounts of energy available to you. This can be particularly important for athletes. But really, just about everyone could benefit from having more energy to call upon. Research also indicates that magnesium malate may help the body eliminate unwanted heavy metals.
- Magnesium threonate – Magnesium threonate is a highly bioavailable mineral compound that has demonstrated an ability to improve cognitive function. The NIH has gone so far as to state that magnesium threonate may be beneficial in preventing short term memory loss.
A long term Japanese study concluded that people who consumedmagnesium threonate over long periods of time were almost 40% less likely to develop dementia than those that didn’t. This is considered one of the most important breakthroughs in dementia research in recent years.
- Magnesium oxide – Most people who are at all familiar with magnesium have seen magnesium oxide in the ingredient list on their laxative packages. Ironically, it’s the low bioavailability of magnesium oxide that allows it to work its way through our digestive tract and clean things out. Essentially the body rejects most magnesium oxide, and expels it to the digestive tract.
The digestive tract doesn’t want it either and so pushes it straight through, thereby creating the laxative effect.Magnesium oxide is also useful as an antacid and plays a secondary, but still important, role in promoting proper nerve function.
- Magnesium citrate – Magnesium citrate (citrate = from citric acid) exhibits incredible bioavailability. That is, as much as 90% of the magnesium citrate you ingest is absorbed and put to use by your body. Compare that to magnesium oxide, whose bioavailability is less than 4%.
Because of its outrageous bioavailability,magnesium citrate is one of the most recommended of the magnesium supplements. It’s used to settle upset stomachs and support digestion among other things.
- Magnesium chloride – Magnesium chloride is another very popular form of magnesium. Doctors encourage people to take magnesium chloride to help strengthen bones, encourage proper digestion, promote more restful sleep and achieve both mental and physical calm. Magnesium chloride is typically extracted from brine (ocean water), so there is very little chance of the world running short of this important mineral any time soon. Careful though; too much magnesium chloride may cause diarrhea.
- Magnesium sulfate – Magnesium sulfate should be familiar to athletes or really anyone who has ever sought out supplements that could help them deal with sore muscles. Magnesium sulfate also goes by the name “epsom salts”. Epsom salts are commonly added to bathwater to help relieve muscle pain associated with sprains and strains. It’s also another form of magnesium that’s known to aid in digestion and promote regularity.
- Magnesium glycinate – Glycine is an amino acid that researchers believe plays a role in generating a calm state of mind. The compound magnesium glycinate is a combination of magnesium and glycine, and is commonly used to help relieve both mental and physical stress. Magnesium glycinate is one of the few forms of magnesium that is not used as a laxative. Although it does demonstrate a very high level of bioavailability, and is thus often prescribed for individuals who may be suffering from a magnesium deficiency.
“Magnesium may be the most overlooked mineral.” – Dr Oz
What’s The Ideal Magnesium Dosage?
The ideal magnesium dosage will vary depending on a person’s age and physical size, as well as whether it is being prescribed to treat a specific condition.
Magnesium Side Effects
For the most part, magnesium supplements are considered safe for just about everyone, including pregnant women. Although they should consult their doctor first regarding the type of magnesium supplements to take and the exact dosage.
But while the best magnesium supplements are considered basically safe, they’re not completely without possible side effects. Some of the most common side effects of taking supplemental magnesium include:
- Diarrhea, flatulence, nausea and stomach cramps.
- Electrolyte imbalances, which may impede physical performance.
- In extremely rare cases, people may experience vomiting if they take too much magnesium.
Magnesium supplements are not known to have ever resulted in severe or life-threatening side effects. Although, as we stated, a person may experience vomiting or diarrhea, which can be pretty unpleasant.
Virtually everyone can benefit to some degree from taking magnesium supplements. However, research indicates there are a couple of groups that may benefit more than others. The first group is older people. Magnesium is important for them in a couple of ways.
First, it can help stave off short term memory loss. And second, research indicates it may also play a role in preventing dementia. Which is a very exciting development that bears watching.
The other group of people who may benefit the most from magnesium supplementation are athletes or the athletically inclined. This is because, as we have seen, magnesium helps elevate and sustain energy levels. In addition, magnesium can help alleviate the soreness and stiffness that often occurs in the aftermath of strenuous workouts.
But whether you need help recovering from a marathon or just need some help with your constipation, magnesium is the forgotten mineral you should keep in mind.