Magnesium is instrumental to many body functions and necessary for every biological organism, not just humans. Technically, it is an essential mineral nutrient, meaning it’s something the body needs, but it cannot make itself. That means it has to come from a dietary source like food or a supplement.
This mineral plays a critical role in the brain, heart, and muscle health for humans. Here’s everything you need to know to make sure you can avoid magnesium deficiency:
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is one of several minerals in the body and the fourth most abundant (the first is calcium.) It’s a functional part of muscle movement, heart rhythm, blood sugar levels, protein synthesis, bone formation, and DNA building.
Having low levels of this essential mineral can lead to weak muscles, high blood pressure, depression, and heart disease. An estimated 68% of the U.S. population fails to meet the daily requirement, possibly leading to magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium and Brain Health
Magnesium is a key player in translating messages between the brain and body. Nerves generate electrical impulses to send these messages. If the impulse is strong enough, it activates a receptor that allows it to continue to the next axon, a thin cable that carries the electrical impulses in nerve cells.
Not all the electrical impulses that travel down an axon are strong enough to move forward, though, which is a good thing. If they were, your brain would be continuously flooded with messages that it doesn’t need.
Magnesium acts as a gatekeeper for some of these receptors, so impulses that are not strong enough stop before they hit the brain. This way, it prevents nerves from overstimulation that might cause damage.
Magnesium and Heart Health
Magnesium is critical for maintaining a stable heartbeat. When your heart beats, calcium floods the cells of the heart muscle to cause a contraction. It relaxes when magnesium enters to block the calcium. Calcium and magnesium are natural competitors — when magnesium is present, it blocks calcium. These actions are essential to keep the heart beating.
Magnesium and Muscle Health
Magnesium plays the role of calcium blocker in all muscle tissue, not just the heart. When calcium enters the muscle cells, it contracts. When magnesium comes in to counteract the calcium, the muscle relaxes. Now, think about how many times your muscles contract and relax every day, and you get an idea of how vital magnesium is to health.
How To Tell If You Have Magnesium Deficiency
Some symptoms of low magnesium levels include:
- Muscle twitches and cramping
- Muscle Weakness
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of appetite
- Personality changes
There are also medical conditions sometimes associated with magnesium deficiency, such as:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Mental health disorders
The recommended daily allowance for magnesium varies by age and gender. On average, adults need between 400 to 420 mg. The older you get, the more you will need.
How to Get Magnesium?
One of the easiest ways to make sure your body is getting enough magnesium is through diet. Some foods that contain high levels of this important mineral include:
- Black beans
- Peanut butter
- Chicken breast
Even if you eat right, you might still find that you struggle to get the proper amounts of daily magnesium. For you, the answer might be a supplement like a Multivitamin.
Some people prefer to rely only on food for their nutrients. With that in mind, you can add minerals to your water using a drink mix and get the same benefits. Dietary supplementation will help you sustain energy throughout the day and the right formula can add delicious flavor to your drink! When choosing a supplement, look for something with all-natural flavors and no added sugar or colors.
Magnesium is a critical part of hundreds of cellular processes in the human body, and many people don’t get enough of it. But don’t worry, it’s easy enough to increase your intake. Simply add some mineral-rich foods to your diet, add a supplement, or both!