Magnesium plays an important role in supporting your body’s physical and mental wellbeing. This crucial mineral is key to healthy muscle and nerve function and maintaining your energy levels, helping you to convert the food you eat into something your body can use. It’s involved in over 300 reactions in the human body, from helping to regulate your blood pressure to supporting the immune system.
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6 health benefits of magnesium
1. May improve bone health
Low levels of magnesium have been associated with low bone density and upping your magnesium intake can help to avert the risk of osteoporosis, although more research is needed in this area. Around 50- 60% of the body’s magnesium intake is found in bone tissue. Magnesium also stimulates a hormone which helps to preserve bone structure and helps to keep your calcium levels in check.
2. May help cardiovascular system
Magnesium is crucial for heart health, helping you to maintain a steady heartbeat and normal blood pressure. The interactions between calcium and magnesium in your body allows the heart to contract and relax, sending blood to your essential organs. Magnesium also helps your blood vessels to flex and relax, potentially reducing the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure).
3. May improve mood
Some studies have indicated that magnesium influences our mood and people with deficiencies sometimes experience anxiety, depression and personality changes. Magnesium supplementation has also been shown to improve the performance of antidepressants.
4. May help you sleep better
Many of us don’t feel like we get enough sleep, whether we have trouble drifting off, staying asleep or not getting good quality sleep, plenty of us are looking to improve our sleep health. Many of these issues can be associated with poor diet and other lifestyle factors, but magnesium is a key mineral for getting a good night’s rest. By relaxing the muscles and nerves regulating your neurotransmitters, magnesium can help you drift off and gradually shut down your mind and body, ready for bed.
5. May alleviate pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
Certain studies have found that magnesium may help to alleviate some of the more severe symptoms of PMS, such as mood swings, anxiety and menstrual migraines. A diet high in magnesium may help to lessen the effects of menstrual cramps and associated bloating.
6. May alleviate migraines
Some research has found that low levels of magnesium have been linked to headaches and in some cases, migraines. Magnesium oxide is frequently used to prevent and treat migraines. However, supplementation of magnesium in order to reduce symptoms is somewhat limited.
How to increase magnesium absorption
Your body absorbs around 20-50% of the magnesium you ingest and factors such as excessive use of alcohol, smoking, impaired digestive function and chronic stress can impact how much magnesium your body has ready to use. Fizzy drinks like soda water and carbonated soft drinks can also interfere with magnesium uptake.
What are the signs of a magnesium deficiency?
Magnesium deficiencies can feed into a number of symptoms including a loss of appetite, nausea or fatigue and weakness. Severe magnesium deficiency can result in seizures, personality changes and even changes to heart rhythm or spasms. Long-term magnesium deficiency has been linked to health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, migraines and type 2 diabetes. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or feel unwell, please consult your doctor.
Foods that are high in magnesiumAdding these magnesium-rich foods into your diet will ensure you stay in tip top condition. Whole grains are a good source of magnesium. Wheat, quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat all top the charts when it comes to magnesium yield, along with leafy greens such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard. Beans and seeds are also a good source; white beans, chickpeas, lentils and hemp seeds will keep your magnesium levels high.
Nuts and seeds are also high in protein which, as an added bonus, helps with magnesium absorption. It might also surprise you to learn that dark chocolate is rich in magnesium and loaded with antioxidants, so enjoy that extra square of sweetness. Tofu, cultured yogurt and avocados are also good ingredients to look to for a magnesium boost.