Health benefits of magnesium

In this post, we ask expert educator Ann-Mary Hromek about the health benefits of magnesium and how it affects aging.

Magnesium is a macromineral required to activate almost all enzymatic processes that use phosphorus as an energy source.

Experts consider it as the second most abundant intracellular cation in living cells, and it is essential in producing energy or adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and conducting nerve impulses, muscle contraction and relaxation, and normal heart rate rhythm.

It also supports bone growth, strengthens your teeth and maintains your normal basal metabolic rate.

One of the health benefits of magnesium is that it can help regulate the other nutrients in the body such as calcium, potassium, zinc and vitamin D. It is therefore important to maintain normal levels of magnesium at all times.

More than half of the magnesium in the body is found in our bones, together with phosphate and calcium. Its highest concentration occurs in the mitochondria of the muscle and red blood cells.

Similar to other minerals, the body doesn’t make magnesium and people must obtain adequate amounts from food.

Why do we need magnesium as we age?

Research shows that long-term magnesium deficiency accelerates aging of human cells, initiating age-related and chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and certain cancers.

Magnesium plays a major role in almost all biochemical processes that maintain life, but as you age, your body’s ability to absorb and store magnesium decreases. In fact, research shows the average magnesium level of individuals in their 70s is only two-thirds of what it was during their 30s.

Magnesium deficiency stimulates increased secretion of PTH or parathyroid hormone, which inhibits bones storing the absorbed calcium. This leads to the calcification or hardening of the mitochondria, which the main energy factories of the cells.

The lack of a well-functioning mitochondrion disrupts the body’s ability to produce the energy needed to fuel its biochemical processes.

With unresolved magnesium deficiency, the organs begin to age, increasing your risk of developing different diseases. To put simply, once the magnesium-dependent mitochondria begin to calcify, every function of your body diminishes, which leads to faster aging.

Can I get enough magnesium from food?

Without any existing medical condition, regular intake of foods rich in magnesium is enough to maintain its level within the normal range.

Experts believe swiss chard and spinach are the best sources of magnesium. Generally, green leafy vegetables, unprocessed grains, seeds and nuts are high in magnesium.

If I’m to take magnesium supplements, in what form should I take it?

As a dietary supplement, magnesium comes in tablet, capsule and powder forms. Chelated forms of magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate and magnesium gluconate are the most recommended.

If you were diagnosed with heart block or kidney failure, magnesium supplementation is contraindicated. Experts strongly recommend consulting your physician to check whether or not it is safe for you to take this supplement.

What is the best source of this nutrient?

It is best to obtain magnesium from food. As well as spinach and Swiss chards, other magneisum-rich foods include kelp, summer squash, turnip greens, mustard greens, pumpkin seeds, broccoli and halibut. If you take an increased amount of foods rich in magnesium, you will rarely experience an overdose.

You should consider magnesium supplementation if you have a medical condition that inhibits absorption. Experts recommend chelated forms of magnesium when taking supplements.

What dose of magnesium should I take?

Adults should take at least 320-420mg of magnesium daily. As a dietary supplement, take 750-1,000mg of magnesium daily. You may need to increase your intake of magnesium if you are pregnant or recovering from any illness or surgery. Consult your physician to determine the right dose for you.

Are there any risks with taking a magnesium supplement?

Magnesium supplementation is generally safe when you consume it orally. Taking large amounts of magnesium can cause serious side effects such as fatigue, muscle weakness, drowsiness, low blood pressure, irregular heart rhythm and coma.

Are there any special requirements when I take magnesium?

You should take magnesium supplements with meals for better absorption and to prevent diarrhea and gastric irritation. It is best to take is away from other medications such as Tetracycline antibiotics, as it can interfere with absorption of both.

Does this nutrient need other compounds to accompany it for optimal absorption?

For optimal absorption, take magnesium with vitamin B complex. Vitamin B6 increases the amount of magnesium your cells absorb.

If I supplement with magnesium, do I need to take this in divided doses?

Take magnesium supplements in two doses. Take the first dose in the morning and the second in the evening.

How to determine if I have a magnesium deficiency

Your doctor may order a serum magnesium test to measure your blood’s magnesium level. Normal value ranges from 1.7-2.2mg/dL.


Last reviewed 06/01/2017

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Ann-Mary Amber

Ann-Mary Amber has twenty years experience in wholistic therapies and specialises in nutritional and environmental medicine. She is an experienced group facilitator and lecturer and an integral part of the ACNEM education team.

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