We owe our health primarily to the minerals or nutrients we consume. Magnesium is a vital mineral involved in numerous processes in the body, including energy production, nerve function, muscle contraction, and bone development(1).
And on that note, diet is a significant source of this mineral. Check out this food rich in magnesium list to see some of the best dietary sources of magnesium (2).
So, how much magnesium should you consume in a day? It depends on various factors, including your age and health condition. Here is a table showing the daily recommended intake of magnesium-based on age (3).
|Age||Recommended Intake (mg/day)|
|31 and older||320|
|31 and older||420|
|Infants||Up to 6 months||30|
Dosage may also vary depending on the condition you’re trying to manage. For instance, consuming about 500mg of magnesium can improve sleep quality. Let’s delve deeper by discussing common signs of magnesium deficiency and how the mineral can help your body.
Signs Your Magnesium Reserve is Running Low
Magnesium is a vital mineral with many bodily functions. It is involved in energy production, DNA synthesis, and protein formation, among other things. Despite magnesium’s abundance in food, an estimated 80% of people are deficient in this mineral. Such deficiency could result in
- Muscle cramps or weakness
- Irregular heartbeat
Magnesium deficiency can also worsen conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and migraines. If you think you may be deficient in magnesium, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test. Treatment for magnesium deficiency typically involves taking supplements and making dietary changes.
But, blood tests are not the most ideal or reliable indicator of overall magnesium levels since most of the mineral is stored in our bones. According to some researchers, some cases of chronic magnesium insufficiency go undetected. Such an unrecognized deficiency is dangerous as it may result in many common health issues, including heart disease.
Benefits of Magnesium
Failure to consume sufficient amounts of magnesium may disrupt the body’s normal function. Also, research suggests that these effects can add up over time, leading to chronic problems. Fortunately, an adequate intake of magnesium offers various benefits. Here are the potential upsides of consuming magnesium, including how increased intake may vary depending on your condition.
- Regulating Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes often leads to high blood sugar levels. Generally, type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction, while type 2 diabetes occurs due to insulin resistance. Although both types can lead to severe complications, such as heart disease and kidney failure, type 2 diabetes is more common.
Magnesium helps regulate blood sugar levels (4). Studies have shown that magnesium deficiency is linked to insulin resistance. Also, if you have type 2 diabetes, your magnesium levels would be lower than in someone without the condition. One study found that increased supplementation (consuming up to 2500mg) enhanced insulin sensitivity among patients with type 2 diabetes.
Therefore, increasing magnesium intake may help improve glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes. Hence, in addition to dietary sources, magnesium supplements may be beneficial.
- Enhancing Bone Health
Besides being involved in energy production and muscle contraction, magnesium is also necessary for bone health. Scientific studies suggest that it can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by thin, fragile bones. One study found that magnesium supplementation improved bone density in postmenopausal women.
Furthermore, magnesium may help reduce the incidence of fractures, particularly in older adults. But, further research is needed to confirm these results. But, one thing is apparent: ensuring adequate magnesium intake may be a boon to your health.
- Averting Heart Disease
Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions and is required for muscles, nerves, and enzymes to work as intended. Recent research shows magnesium can prevent heart disease and high blood pressure. In one study, people who took magnesium supplements had a lower risk of developing heart disease than those who did not.
Another study found that magnesium can help lower blood pressure by relaxing the smooth muscle cells in the walls of blood vessels. These findings suggest that magnesium may be an effective way to protect against one of the most significant causes of death in the U.S and Canada.
- Reducing Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps are a common problem commonly caused by many issues, including dehydration, muscle fatigue, and electrolyte imbalances. Magnesium facilitates muscle contraction and relaxation, and it is often deficient in people who experience muscle cramps.
A magnesium supplement can help prevent muscle cramps by correcting this imbalance. In addition, it can reduce the severity of cramps and the amount of time they last. If you experience muscle cramps frequently, consider taking a magnesium supplement to help prevent or manage them.
According to various studies, participants who consumed 300 mg of magnesium daily reported a decreased intensity of muscle cramps. This indicates that daily supplementation could have a positive impact on the condition.
- Managing Depression
Magnesium may be an effective treatment for depression. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado found that magnesium supplements can alter brain chemistry in a way that helps reduce symptoms of depression.
As such, the researchers concluded that magnesium might help people who have not responded well to other forms of treatment. Thus, it opens the window, allowing us to consider a new way of treating depression.
A similar study found that ingesting 450 mg of magnesium chloride daily was as effective as antidepressants in managing depressive symptoms. However, more conclusive studies are required to establish whether magnesium supplements can help patients with normal mineral levels.
Is a Magnesium Supplement a Necessity?
While magnesium is available from various food sources, many people do not get enough through diet alone. As a result, magnesium supplements have become increasingly popular.
Although such supplements can be helpful for some people, speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. That way, you can find the ideal supplement, especially if you intend to use it to manage a particular condition. Some of the supplements you may use include:
- Magnesium gluconate
- Magnesium oxide
- Magnesium chloride
- Magnesium glycinate
- Magnesium aspartate
As you’ve noted, daily recommended dosages tend to vary. Also, most studies highlight positive results with increased doses for managing various conditions. But, your physician would be best positioned to advise on the way forward, especially if you’re considering taking a high dose.
(1) National Institutes of Health Magnesium fact sheet
(2) Best to Worst High-Magnesium Food Sources
(3) National Institutes of Health Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
(4) Magnesium and type 2 diabetes
by Craig Gustafson