In Chinese Medicine, magnesium is referred to as the beautiful mineral. Essential for over 300 different chemical reactions in the body, magnesium is crucial for cellular health, including neurotransmitter functions and regulating heartbeat rhythms. This has also led to magnesium being referred to as the ‘relaxation’ mineral.
However, it is estimated that as many as 80 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough magnesium. Problems such as hormone imbalances, osteoporosis, muscle pain, tension and migraine headaches, constipation, chronic fatigue, insomnia, anxiety and depression have all been linked to a magnesium deficiency. On the flip side, a higher intake of magnesium can lead to decreased heart disease, significant decreases in blood pressure, and a lower risk of diabetes.
In a recent University of Vermont study, researchers recruited 126 adults with mild to moderate depression. Some took 248 milligrams (mg) of magnesium a day for six weeks, while others took a placebo pill. Researchers discovered that those who took the magnesium reported a clinically significant improvement in measures of depression and anxiety.
In another recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, data from 3, 765 Americans with an average age of 60 indicated that the highest intakes of magnesium were associated with a 53% and 62% lower risk of fracture for men and women, respectively, compared to those with lowest average intakes.
MAGNESIUM QUICK FACTS:
- The US Department of Health and Human Services has placed magnesium on its short list of nutrients of concern.
- Less than 30% of Americans meet the RDA for magnesium. Other industrialized nations exhibit similar rates of suboptimal intake.
- The National Institutes of Health DASH dietary plan for reducing high blood pressure includes 50% more magnesium than the RDA.
WHY THE BODY NEEDS MAGNESIUM:
The body’s cells use a molecule called ATP to fuel most of the processes that take place. ATP can only act if it’s accompanied by magnesium, which helps to stabilize ATP until it’s used as an energy source. Because ATP is a key player in copying a cell’s genetic information, magnesium also plays a pivotal role in growth and development. Magnesium is also used as a component of several enzymes that help guide a variety of essential chemical reactions. In addition, it contributes to bone structure and helps to transport calcium and potassium in a way that keeps your heart beating and muscles.
So why is it that people are not getting enough magnesium, either from food or supplements? According to Daniel Heller, ND, a contributor to the Dr. Oz Show website, this may be because no one has yet popularized a simple way to remember magnesium, in the way that we usually associate potassium with bananas, or calcium with bone health, and sodium with blood pressure.
The best food sources of magnesium are nuts and seeds, dark green vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Magnesium is also added to some breakfast cereals and other fortified foods. However, many foods grown today are deficient in magnesium and other minerals. Depleted soil conditions mean that plants contain less magnesium. Use of chemicals such as fluoride and chlorine in the water supply make magnesium less available in water since these chemicals can bind to magnesium.
This is why magnesium supplements are an important consideration for people who may be suffering from a deficiency. In supplement form, adult men should take in 400 mg, while women should get 310 mg; this increases to 420 mg and 320 mg, respectively, after age 30. With the vital role that magnesium plays in overall health, it’s high time this mineral is no longer overlooked.