Magnesium is an indispensable natural element for all living organisms. Thanks to it, metabolic processes generate energy, which drives the life of plants and animals.
In plants, it is present in chlorophyll – the leaf green that facilitates the transformation of carbon dioxide into oxygen. That is why magnesium is called the element of life.
- Magnesium is also its Latin name.
- It was discovered by Sir Humphry Davy in 1808.
- It belongs among the 10 elements most frequently found in the Earth's crust.
- It is present in rocks, as well as sea water.
- Green plants are a rich source of magnesium.
Magnesium has been used for healing purposes already in ancient Greece, in an area known as Magnesia - after which it is named. The consequences of magnesium deficiency in the human body were first formulated by scientist E. B. Flink in 1956.
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Magnesium is an indispensable component of almost 350 metabolic reactions in our body. Magnesium binds enzymes that partake in the metabolism of energy, synthesis of proteins and DNA. It plays a key role in the absorption of calcium and potassium.
What does all this mean for our body? Magnesium supports the proper function of our muscles and nerves while maintaining a stable heart rhythm and a strong immune system. In combination with calcium, it keeps the bones and teeth healthy.
For all that, you only need some 25-30 grams of magnesium in your body. The highest volume of magnesium can be found in the bones (70%) and the muscles (27%); a smaller volume is present in the fat tissue, red blood cells, or the blood serum. Did you know that magnesium was the second most frequent mineral present in our cells after potassium?
What health problems can be caused by magnesium deficiency?
To maintain an ideal level of magnesium in our body, we should consume approximately 375 mg (recommended value) of magnesium in our food and beverages every day. This value naturally changes throughout our life.
How much magnesium do you need daily?
Children Men Women Up to 3 years: 80 mg Up to 18 years: 410 mg Up to 18 years: 360 mg
(pregnant women 400 mg)
4 – 8 years: 130 mg 18 – 30 years: 400 mg 18 – 30 years: 310 mg
(pregnant women 350 mg)
9 – 13 years: 240 mg 30 years and older: 420 mg 30 years and older: 320 mg
(pregnant women 360 mg)
Our body usually absorbs only one third of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI). A lot obviously depends on the ability of our body to process magnesium. You should adjust your magnesium intake to your specific health condition and lifestyle.
Who should increase their daily magnesium intake?
- Pregnant and lactating women;
- Physically active people (athletes or those working in labor-intensive jobs);
- People older than 50 years;
- People with a heart condition or diabetes.
Diabetics should be extremely cautious since even a minor reduction in magnesium intake can accelerate the occurrence of diabetes-related complications (retinal and renal diseases). Also people who tend to perspire frequently and intensely, who regularly drink alcohol or who take prescription drugs (e.g. diuretics, antibiotics, contraception) should keep track of their magnesium intake.
How can we effectively replenish magnesium levels in our body?
Magnesium deficiency can manifest itself through symptoms that are similar to certain diseases. If your health problems persist despite your increased magnesium intake, you ought to consult your physician.
What to watch out for - or the most frequent symptoms of magnesium deficiency:
- Rapid onset of fatigue during physical strain (morning fatigue);
- Difficulty concentrating, insomnia;
- Increased susceptibility to stress and depression;
- Frequent headaches and heart palpitations;
- Muscle cramps, eyelid shaking, twitching;
- Brittle nails and hair, hair loss.
Magnesium deficiency is a typical symptom of lifestyle diseases – high blood pressure treated with diuretics, diabetes, or liver cirrhosis (especially in alcoholics).
Seniors also belong to a vulnerable group. Their body does not absorb magnesium as easily and they often take medication that impairs magnesium absorption.
How to change your diet to increase your magnesium intake?
Due to climate change, the plants that we grow contain less magnesium. The lower magnesium content can be attributed to acid rain along with the outwash of magnesium from the soil and the growth of agricultural production.
Moreover, in many cases, the diet composition inhibits the absorption of the remaining, already insufficient amount of magnesium contained in the food. A typical example are the otherwise beneficial fibers, lipids or fatty acids that bind with magnesium and thereby reduce the ability of our body to absorb it.
What can hamper our efforts to replenish our magnesium levels?
- Consumption of foodstuffs with a high content of calcium, phosphates, and zinc;
- Vitamin B1, B2 and B6 deficiency;
- High fiber content in our diet;
- High intake of fat and carbohydrates.
Why should we replenish magnesium? Read how it benefits your body.
Magnesium is an essential booster when it comes to generating energy in our body. It improves the use of oxygen by the cells in our body and helps keep our body healthy. That is why it is able to keep us in a good physical and mental condition.
To kick-start when under stress, the cells in our body release magnesium and absorb calcium instead. For this reason, we need to replenish magnesium in stress situations.
Fatigue and headaches
Magnesium effectively prevents fatigue and exhaustion. Because magnesium supports proper blood flow and releases tight muscles, it can effectively relieve headaches.
Concentration and central nervous system
Magnesium is vital for the correct function of the central nervous system and the brain. It helps us in situations when we need to concentrate (e.g. while working or studying).
Magnesium is crucial for the process of cell division and/or regeneration.
Sufficient magnesium intake reduces the probability of developing high blood pressure or heart arrhythmia.
For diabetics, magnesium is quintessential because it regulates the energy derived from sugar and partakes in the metabolism of insulin. In addition, it positively affects the progress of diabetes-related complications.
Various studies have repeatedly demonstrated that diabetics have lower magnesium levels and that they should replenish it on a regular basis.
Magnesium is responsible for the generation of energy. Moreover, it relaxes the muscles and helps prevent muscle cramps. Make sure you don't forget to replenish it during your physical exercise!
Magnesium deficiency can significantly impair the absorption of other minerals, such as potassium, phosphates, calcium or sodium. That is why magnesium replenishment is twice as important.
Apart from that, magnesium keeps your bones firm and your teeth, nails and hair healthy.