Health Benefits Of Taking Magnesium Pills & Supplements For The Body
While it may not get the same attention as some other minerals in the body, magnesium is an essential body element. And the sad thing is that 8 out of every 10 adults are magnesium deficient, according to research. This makes magnesium deficiency to be ranked as one of the most common deficiencies.
In this article, we shall take a look at some of the health benefits of taking magnesium supplements. We shall also peek at some of the risks and side effects of taking excess magnesium supplements, as well as recommendations for magnesium supplement dosage.
But before we dive into the main matter, let’s briefly get to know some more about magnesium.
What is magnesium?
Magnesium is one of the many elements known to man. Physically, magnesium has a silvery-white color and burns with a white flame. Magnesium belongs to the group of elements called metals that are good conductors of heat and electricity.
Inside the human body, magnesium is one of the few major minerals referred to as macro-minerals. These macro-mineral play significant roles in the body, and need to be taken in significant quantities every day. Magnesium, on its own, is required in several body functions, such as food metabolism, bone development, and nerve functioning. Several studies have discovered that magnesium can be used in the treatment of several health problems like migraines and insomnia.
Natural Food sources of magnesium
Naturally, magnesium does not occur alone; it is usually found as a combination with other elements. This means that it is unlikely to find magnesium as a single element in nature.
That said, magnesium can be found naturally in many foods, especially nuts and seeds. Some of the foods with high magnesium content are:
- Sesame seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Boiled spinach
- Black beans
- Sunflower seeds
- Cooked broccoli
- Cooked quinoa
- Cooked oatmeal
- Whole wheat bread
While we can get magnesium from natural sources, there are also supplementary sources of the mineral. These magnesium supplements are mainly in the form of over-the-counter pills and oils. Magnesium supplements can also be obtained in liquid forms. These supplements can be ingested orally or injected into the veins; they also vary depending on the rate of absorption.
The common forms of magnesium supplements include magnesium oxide, magnesium chelate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium sulfate, magnesium citrate, magnesium chloride, and magnesium oxide. These supplements are explained further below.
Magnesium citrate: This form of magnesium supplement is aimed at improving stomach problems like constipation and indigestion.
Magnesium glycinate: This is a type of magnesium supplement that is best suited at treating magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium chelate: Magnesium chelate can be found in many foods. This form of magnesium has a high bioavailabilty and is used for replenishing depleted magnesium levels in the body.
Magnesium orotate: This is a compound comprising magnesium and orotic acid. Magnesium orotate is a supplement that helps in maintaining a healthy heart.
Magnesium chloride: Magnesium chloride is usually available in liquid (oil) form and is mainly used in improving digestion problems. It can also be used on the skin for the treatment of wounds and irritation.
Magnesium threonate: This is a rare type of magnesium supplement that offers the advantage of high absorption rate.
What magnesium deficiency does to the body?
Magnesium is an essential mineral in the body that plays a vital role in several body functioning. Depletion or deficiency of this very important mineral can lead to many health problems. Some of the symptoms and complications arising from magnesium deficiency are:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to sleep well
- Malabsorption of nutrients
- Ekbom (restless legs) syndrome
- Kidney failure
How does magnesium benefit the body?
Magnesium is a very important mineral in the body, as already stated.
The following are some of the ways that magnesium benefits the body:
- Increase the absorption of calcium
Calcium is an essential component for bone development, as well as magnesium. The body needs adequate magnesium for the absorption of calcium. In addition, a high calcium content in the body without a corresponding amount of magnesium can result in the formation of kidney stones. Thus, taking magnesium supplements is necessary for calcium absorption, especially when the person is supplementing with calcium.
- Good for healthy and strong bones
One of the possible complications of magnesium deficiency is osteoporosis (or reduction in bone mineral density). This problem can be prevented and remediated by taking magnesium supplements. Furthermore, as previously stated, calcium and magnesium are both essential for bone development. Maintaining a good balance between these two minerals is actually important for healthy bones.
- For a healthy heart
Magnesium affects the heart in many wonderful ways. First, magnesium promotes vasodilation of the blood vessels. Then, by breaking down glucose into energy, magnesium provides energy for the heart needed for pumping blood. It also reduces calcium accumulation in the heart, which can lead to serious heart problems. Aside from these, magnesium depletion in the body has been associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
- Remedy for migraines
Like we mentioned earlier that migraines can be a symptom of magnesium deficiency, building up your magnesium levels can stop the problem. Several studies suggest that taking magnesium supplements can be beneficial to people experiencing migraine headaches. In addition to curing migraines, magnesium can also help to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
- Promote digestion
Proper digestion and absorption of food in the body requires magnesium. From the mouth to the stomach, magnesium plays important roles during food digestion. In fact, digestion is not possible without magnesium in the body. So, a deficiency in magnesium can cause digestion problems including indigestion, constipation, acid reflux, and bloating. To prevent these problems and to improve digestion, taking magnesium supplements is highly recommended.
- Anti-inflammatory action
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to inflammatory conditions like arthritis. While there are many factors that contribute to systemic inflammations in the body, magnesium deficiency has been identified as a major risk factor. Thus, increasing your magnesium intake when you have a chronic inflammation can help to palliate the problem.
- Remedy for hypertension
We also stated previously that low magnesium levels in the body can lead to hypertension or high blood pressure. This invariably means that supplementing the body with magnesium can help to lower blood pressure, if you are hypertensive. Many studies have also confirmed this point. Note, however, that taking magnesium supplements to lower your blood pressure when you don’t have hypertension will not reduce your blood pressure.
Depression can be as a result of reduced magnesium levels in your body. If that is the case, then, supplementing with magnesium may help in improving your mood. Various studies have also been carried on this subject and their results look promising.
- For regulating blood sugar
Diabetes patients and people who are at the risk of developing the disease can benefit from consuming magnesium supplements. According to multiple research results, a high amount of magnesium in the body helps in lowering the risk of getting diabetes. For people already suffering from diabetes, an increased consumption of magnesium can help to regulate their blood sugar levels.
- Increased brain functioning
Magnesium can help in enhancing your memory, according to some reports. The reports indicate that taking more magnesium can help to improve memory. The mineral plays an important role in nerve operations and in controlling neurotransmitters in the body.
Stress does a lot of harm to the body, including depletion of magnesium levels. Therefore, as a countermeasure, magnesium supplementation can be effective in reducing stress. Lots of studies have also proven that symptoms of anxiety and stress can be improved by taking more magnesium.
- Promote good sleep
Sleeping disorders like insomnia can be the result of many factors, including magnesium deficiency. Many people, especially adults, find it hard to get a good night’s rest. An effective remedy for this problem is to take magnesium supplements. By relaxing your muscles, magnesium can help you get a better night’s sleep.
- For oral health
Magnesium is also essential for strong and healthy teeth. This means that a depletion in magnesium levels in the teeth can lead to teeth problems like periodontal disease. Supplementing with magnesium has been found to be an effective remedy for periodontal disease, as well as being great for general oral health.
- Remedy for PMS symptoms
PMS or premenstrual syndrome is a condition that affects many women some days before the start of their menstruation. Common symptoms of PMS like abdominal cramps and fatigue can be improved by increasing the intake of magnesium.
Clinical trials conducted on people with acute asthma showed that magnesium can be used in the treatment of asthma. A particular study posited that the presence of magnesium in the body helps to relax the muscles of the bronchi, which in turn, helps to reduce the symptoms of asthma temporarily. Apart from these, evidence shows that there is a reduced risk of developing asthma in people who eat magnesium-rich foods.
- Increased testosterone in men
According to a study, men can increase their testosterone levels by taking magnesium supplements. The study also found that men who were physically active had a higher increase in testosterone than those who were not.
- Increased physical performance
Did you know that some of the major consumers of magnesium supplements are athletes? This is because during physical activities like exercise, the body’s magnesium content is reduced. This reduction of magnesium causes a reduction in physical performance, and can be corrected by supplementing with magnesium. In addition, magnesium supplementation helps to enhance flexibility of muscles.
Recommended dosage of magnesium
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States, the recommended daily allowance for magnesium is as follows:
- For ages 1 to 3: 80 milligrams per day
- For ages 4 to 8: 130 milligrams per day
- For ages 9 to 13: 240 milligrams per day
- For men between 14 and 18 years of age: 410 milligrams per day
- For women between 14 and 18 years: 360 milligrams per day
- For men older than 18 years: 400 mg to 420 mg per day
- For women older than 18 years: 310 mg to 320 mg per day
- For pregnant women: 350 mg to 400 mg per day
- For nursing mothers: 310 mg to 360 mg per day
Risks and side effects of taking too much magnesium supplements
While the chances of overdosing on magnesium by eating magnesium-rich foods, it is very possible with magnesium supplements. This is due to the fact that excess magnesium taken through diet is removed from the body through urine, whereas the case is not the same with the supplements.
With that said, excessive consumption of magnesium supplements can result in many conditions like cramping and diarrhea. Continued overdose of magnesium supplements can also lead to kidney and liver problems, heart attacks, and even death.
What’s more, taking magnesium supplements can cause drug interactions in some medications, such as quinine, digoxin, and phenytoin. Also, people who are on antibiotics or diuretics should beware of consuming magnesium supplements.
With that said, caution should be taken when taking magnesium supplements. If you are suffering from a kidney problem, you are not to supplement with magnesium. If you think you need to, then, you should first consult your doctor.
Magnesium deficiency can cause many problems, as we have already listed. This means that supplementing with magnesium supplements should help to rectify the depletion. However, taking too much magnesium supplements can also lead to some problems. And while there are many forms of magnesium supplements available in the market, the most effective option remains proper dieting.