What Does Magnesium Do for the Body?

What Does Magnesium Do for the Body?

Magnesium intake isn’t something most people worry about on a daily basis, but unfortunately, they should. At least 68% of adults in the U.S. don’t meet the recommended daily intake, which is 350 mg for most females and 420 mg for most males. That’s a shame because magnesium-rich foods are plentiful and delicious.
Exactly what does magnesium do for the body? This key mineral is essential in over 600 cellular reactions and is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body.

Magnesium and Your Health

Magnesium supports nearly all of the body’s most essential functions, including:

  • Blood pressure
  • Nerve function
  • Blood sugar
  • Protein synthesis
  • Energy production
  • Heart health
  • Bone formation

Too much magnesium in your system is rare, but it can happen, especially if you take magnesium supplements.

Symptoms of magnesium overdose include digestive disorders and respiratory problems.

If you are taking magnesium supplements and experience nausea, diarrhea, muscle weakness, or low blood pressure, discontinue supplement use and call your doctor. Some side effects of magnesium overload can put your health at risk.

Magnesium and Body Function

Magnesium is essential for your body to help relay signals from the brain. The mineral sits inside N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. NMDA receptors are critical to neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt to new information. They aid in memory, learning, and brain development.

Proper brain function is the gateway to good physical and mental health, but magnesium is important for many other body functions besides supporting brain plasticity.

Some of the other roles magnesium plays in supporting good health include:

  • Generating regular heart contractions (healthy heartbeat)
  • Countering the stimulating effects of calcium on the heart
  • Relieving muscle contractions, cramps, and spasms
  • Potentially lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing the risk of heart disease
  • Improving blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes
  • Enhancing sleep quality
  • Relieving migraines
  • Reducing depression symptoms
  • Reducing anxiety symptoms

A lack of magnesium can contribute to the development of several health issues. Your brain, heart, and musculoskeletal system rely on adequate amounts of magnesium and other minerals and vitamins to perform at their best every day.

Increasing Your Magnesium Intake

Taking supplements is a simple way to ensure you’re getting the correct amount of magnesium needed for optimal health. However, there are many delicious and affordable foods that contain naturally high amounts of magnesium.

For example, one-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains around half of the recommended daily intake for magnesium.

Other foods that will help you increase magnesium intake include:

  • Spinach
  • Black beans
  • Beet greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Nuts
  • Avocado
  • Tofu
  • Dark chocolate
  • Salmon
  • Quinoa
  • Potatoes

Increasing magnesium levels through dietary changes is preferable to taking supplements. Magnesium overdose is quite rare when the mineral is ingested through food. With a small amount of research, it’s easy to know how much magnesium your favorite foods provide.

However, if you are unlikely to include mineral-rich foods in your diet on a regular basis, getting magnesium and other vitamins and minerals from supplements is much better than not getting them at all. It’s best to speak with your healthcare provider before taking magnesium or other supplements to meet the recommended daily intakes.

Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

The symptoms of low magnesium are often overlooked. Obvious warning signs of magnesium deficiency often don’t appear until levels are severely low. In other cases, magnesium deficiency signs can be attributed to other issues. For example, a person with high blood pressure may assume their condition is caused by hereditary or lifestyle factors and may overlook the possibility of magnesium deficiency.

Symptoms of low magnesium include:

  • Severe asthma
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis
  • Apathy, anxiety, depression
  • Muscle cramps and twitches

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and you’re concerned about your magnesium intake, consult with your healthcare provider. Each of these symptoms could indicate a serious problem.

Considering the Effects of Magnesium

What does magnesium do for the body? It may be an exaggeration to say magnesium does everything, but it is responsible for supporting many of the body’s basic functions. If you’re feeling unusual levels of fatigue or if you’re experiencing muscle cramps or an irregular heartbeat, speak with your physician. Increasing your magnesium intake through diet or supplementation could be the key to improving your health.