Magnesium is a mineral naturally found in our bodies, in sea water, and in the earth, but what is it good for? It is often referred to as a “body relaxer.” It can improve important chemical functioning that promotes calm and sleep. It also helps to lower blood pressure and works as an anti-inflammatory, among other activities that aid the body.
In addition to being present in the body, magnesium is also organically found in many foods, daily essential vitamins, and medicines. An adult person has approximately 25 grams of magnesium, which is present mostly in the bones. By exploring its many health benefits, the different types of magnesium, as well as the recommended daily intake, it’ll highlight why adding magnesium to your nutritional routine is beneficial.
Don’t know what magnesium is good for? To get started, here are five magnesium benefits to give you a sense of just how important this mineral is for your health and wellness.
#1: Helps Biochemical Reactions to Soothe the Mind and Body
Magnesium works as a cofactor to over 300 enzyme systems that regulate biochemical reactions in the body. Among these are muscle and nerve functioning, energy production, and bone structure development.1
Magnesium also works as a natural calcium blocker, serving as a muscle relaxer. When there’s not enough of it in the body, it can lead to muscle spasms and cramps. Aside from assisting with bone health, its reaction with the body can help you fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality.2
Researchers from the Faculty of Nutrition and Food Technology in Tehran, Iran studied magnesium health benefits for sleep through a double-randomized trial of 46 elderly adults. Those in the magnesium group received 500 mg daily for eight weeks. Studies showed dietary magnesium supplementation significantly increased sleep time and sleep efficiency in study participants experiencing insomnia.3
Additionally, further research suggests magnesium works as a binder to GABA receptors, which are known to calm down anxiolytic-like activity, or a reduction in anxiety, that can positively affect sleep patterns.
#2: Fights Depression by Supporting Brain Function and Mood
Since magnesium is connected with brain biochemistry, side effects like depression may occur when there’s a deficiency. This is particularly prevalent in cases when a deficiency is coupled with excess calcium and increased stress. This combination can lead to other depression-related symptoms, such as irritability, sleeplessness, and agitation.4
There are several studies and ongoing research to show how magnesium benefits depression or mood disorder treatments. A review conducted by the George Eby Research Institute in Austin, TX hypothesized magnesium treatment is beneficial for nearly all depressive cases, including the 60 percent of clinical depression cases that are categorized as treatment-resistant.
The review reported a deficiency in magnesium leads to calcium channels leaning toward causing neurological dysfunction, which may present as depression. It also reported intravenous and oral magnesium in certain protocols had been shown to rapidly terminate treatment-resistant depression without side effects. Additionally, it references case studies that have shown rapid recovery (of less than seven days) from major depression when taking 125-300 mg of magnesium with each meal and before sleep.5
A study conducted by the University of Vermont tested the association between dietary magnesium intake and depression among the U.S. adult population. The group of 8,894 U.S. adults, with a median age of 46 years, showed the association of very low magnesium intake with depression as significant, particularly in the younger participants of the study.6
#3: Lowers Blood Pressure and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
The link between low levels of magnesium and high blood pressure is also significant in a range of studies. High blood pressure often leads to adverse health conditions, including type 2 diabetes. A collaborative study conducted by research groups in New Mexico tested the effect of oral magnesium supplements with treating diabetic hypertensive adults.
The study involved 82 subjects ranging between the ages of 40 and 75 for a period of four months. Study participants that took 450 mg of magnesium daily experienced a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure by 20.4 and diastolic blood pressure by 8.7.7
This data is supported by other research, including an analysis of 34 studies involving 2,028 participants that found an average dose of 368 mg of magnesium significantly reduced blood pressure values in healthy adults, as well as those experiencing high blood pressure. In this analysis, high blood pressure was present in over 60 percent of type 2 diabetes patients.8 Per research published in the World Journal of Diabetes, lowering blood pressure under 140 systolic and 85 diastolic has shown positive effects on cardiovascular outcomes.
Furthermore, another of the main magnesium health benefits is its key role in insulin regulation, as part of treatment that helps with the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. A study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina found those with a high magnesium intake were 47 percent less likely to develop diabetes.
Based on a 20-year review, 330 cases of diabetes were found among the group of 4,497 participants, ranging in age from 18-30 years. Magnesium intake was inversely associated with the incidence of diabetes in adults, due to correlations with magnesium intake with insulin resistance and systemic inflammation.9
#4: Works As an Anti-Inflammatory in the Body
Part of the wide range of magnesium health benefits includes the ability to work as an anti-inflammatory in the body. Inflammation is a signal of distress and appears for multiple reasons. There have been studies that have shown low magnesium intake has been linked to chronic inflammation which is a precursor to obesity, chronic disease, and other contributing symptoms and conditions that may result in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, among a range of other physical and mental ailments.
Some studies have found a moderate magnesium deficiency may enhance inflammation or oxidative stress induced by other factors, such as sleep deprivation. Magnesium benefits, as well as magnesium deficiencies, play a part in the interlinking of many health conditions that plague people today.
Research presented in a collaborative study supported by the USDA studied 100 older adults with poor sleep quality for a period of five to seven weeks. Based on their individual food diaries, nearly 60 percent of participants were consuming less than the average requirement for magnesium, which was associated with a significantly higher body mass index and plasma C-reactive protein concentration. That means most people were not getting an adequate magnesium intake on a regular basis.
Those in the group who received magnesium supplementation experienced a decrease in plasma C-reactive protein and other inflammation markers, which showed magnesium benefits for women and men could be used as an anti-inflammatory treatment in the body and subsequently aid in health side effects, such as poor sleep quality.10
#5: Prevent Migraines and Boost Overall Immunity
Finding relief from migraines can be a challenge when looking for treatment that works as quickly and effectively as possible. Research from the University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, Iran and Harvard University showed supplementing treatment with one gram of supplemental magnesium provided quicker relief for acute migraines than common medication.
A group of 70 participants were randomly divided equally into two groups: one group received dexamethasone/metoclopramide and the other was administered supplemental magnesium sulfate, testing pain severity at 20-minute, one-hour, and two-hour intervals. Results showed magnesium sulfate was more fast-acting and effective compared to the drug treatment for acute migraine headaches.11
Studies also show how a diet in magnesium-rich foods can also be helpful in the prevention of migraine occurrences. In addition to taking a daily magnesium supplement, there are a variety of food sources, including pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, spinach, and nuts that have higher levels of magnesium. The total recommended dietary allowance is approximately 300-400 mg depending on age and gender in teens and adults.
Taking Advantage of the Nutritional Value of Natural Minerals
When there are nutritional deficiencies on any level, it often leads to impaired body functions that may cause a domino effect. As shown, for example, a lack of magnesium may result in increased inflammation and/or blood pressure, which may subsequently result in obesity, anxiety, and other side effects that can lead to more serious health conditions. Making the most of the valuable minerals in the body can help prevent many of these diseases from occurring.
Detecting Low Levels of Magnesium
However, for many, low magnesium occurs, which is characterized by symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and weakness. As these symptoms worsen, those with low magnesium levels, or hypomagnesemia, may experience numbness, tingling, muscle spasms and cramps, abnormal heart rhythms, and seizures.
Deficiency is typically due to decreased absorption and insufficient daily intake of magnesium through a well-balanced diet. Conditions like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and chronic diarrhea can affect the absorption of magnesium in the body. Dependence on alcohol has also been known to lead to hypomagnesemia due to poor dietary intake of magnesium, increase in urination, liver disease, vomiting, and other complications that can minimize the absorption rates of the mineral.12
Managing Magnesium Levels in One, Chewable Bite
Although those that fall into a higher risk category should pay extra attention to the levels of magnesium in the body, getting the recommended daily intake is beneficial for all, due to its preventive and treatment measures for a wide range of symptoms and conditions.
In addition to adding certain foods to a regular diet, taking advantage of the unique health benefits of a GEM dietary supplement makes it easier to get the nutrients necessary to keep the body and mind functioning at their best.
- National Institute of Health - Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
- Healthline. What Does Magnesium Do For Your Body? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-does-magnesium-do#muscle-function
- Faculty of Nutrition and Technology, Tehran, Iran. Abbasi, Behnood, et al. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23853635/
- Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacodynamics, Medical University of Lublin, Staszica 4, PL 20-081 Lublin, Poland. Poleszak, Ewa. Benzodiazepine/GABA(A) receptors are involved in magnesium-induced anxiolytic-like behavior in mice. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18799816/
- George Eby Research Institute, Austin, TX. Eby, George and Eby, Karen. Magnesium for treatment-resistant depression: a review and hypothesis. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19944540/
- From the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont. Tarleton, Emily K. and Littenberg, Benjamin. Magnesium intake and depression in adults. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25748766/
- Biomedical Research Unit of the Mexican Social Security Institute, Research Group on Diabetes and Chronic Illnesses, and Nucleus of Research and Clinical Diagnosis, Durango, Mexico. F Guerrero-Romero and M Rodríguez-Morán. The effect of lowering blood pressure by magnesium supplementation in diabetic hypertensive adults with low serum magnesium levels: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19020533/
- From the Department of Epidemiology, Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, Indiana University, et al. Zhang, Xi, et al. Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27402922/
- Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health and School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel hill, North Carolina. Kim, Dae Jung, et al. Magnesium intake in relation to systemic inflammation, insulin resistance, and the incidence of diabetes. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20807870/
- United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, North Dakota. Nielsen, Forrest H., et al. Magnesium supplementation improves indicators of low magnesium status and inflammatory stress in adults older than 51 years with poor quality sleep. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21199787/
- Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Science, Tehran, Iran and Harvard University, School of Public Health, Boston Massachusetts. Shahrami, Ali, et al. Comparison of therapeutic effects of magnesium sulfate vs. dexamethasone/metoclopramide on alleviating acute migraine headache. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25278139/
- Healthline. Hypomagnesemia (Low Magnesium Levels). https://www.healthline.com/health/hypomagnesemia