What are the health benefits of magnesium? Are there any? And is it safe to take a supplement? Let’s explore these questions now.
Magnesium is an electrolyte that’s involved in over 300 cellular processes in the body. Half of the body’s magnesium is in bones and the other half is in the muscles and soft tissues of the body. There’s only about 1% of magnesium in blood and the kidneys filter 70-80% of this and excrete approximately 6%. (1) In fact the kidneys are responsible for maintaing magnesium balance and they are very effective at excreting magnesium when it’s not needed. Magnesium is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and is excreted via both stools and urine. (2)
Magnesium is essential for:
- energy metabolism
- glucose utilisation
- protein synthesis
- fatty acid synthesis and breakdown
- muscle contraction
- ATPase functions
- virtually ALL hormonal reactions
- prevents coagulation and platelet aggregation
- may suppress thrombus formation
- may improve cholesterol markers
- may increase lipoportein lipase activity
- calcium channels are magnesium dependent
- associated as a significant regulator of cardiac cell function (1,3)
Magnesium deficiency can occur from decreased intake and from losses in the gut and kidneys. Many of us may be magnesium deficient due to inadequate intake in the diet. Good food sources include green leafy veggies, a little in grains, dried fruits and nuts but only 25-65% of dietary magnesium is effectively absorbed. Also most people don’t eat enough greens and in todays food supply magnesium deficient soils lead to magnesium deplted produce. (4-5)
Magnesium deficiency can have many health outcomes, and perhaps not such good ones.
- Magnesium deficency results in rising lipid levels. (3)
- Magnesium deficiency is associated with cardiovascular abnormalities such as acute myocardial infarcation, arrhythmia, dislipideimia, angina, and athlerosclerosis. (1)
- Magnesium deficiency has been found to occur in over one third of patients with congestive heart failure. (1)
- Magnesium deficiency is linked to hypertension, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Hypertension is also closely aligned to obesity and diabetes. (1,3)
One study showed that systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with borderline hypertension normalised after taking oral magnesium. (3)
There’s also evidence that shows lack of magnesium reduces tyrosine kinase activity in insulin receptors and may contribute to insulin resistance, with magnesium supplementation showing enhanced insulin sensitvity and metabolic control. Insulin resistance is a major precursor to type 2 diabetes. (1, 4)
I’m convinced that magnesium provides loads of beneficial health benefits, what about you?
What about hypermagnesimia?
I know it’s a weird question, you’ve probably never heard of it and to tell you the truth neither had I until someone asked about it.
Hypermagnesimia is a condition that only occurs in the presence of renal failure (kidney failure) and other extraordinary circumstances. People with renal impairment should consult a doctor before taking magnesium. In fact if you ever think you have health concerns you should ask your doctor before starting any type of supplementation or lifestyle program. The two situations that can lead to hypermagnesemia are renal faliure and when a very large magnesium load is given. Some over the counter laxatives and epsom salt enemas and gargles have been shown to do this in very rare cases. (2)
That’s probably why I’ve never heard of it before because it’s virtually never found in healthy individuals and only occurs under these extraordinary circumstances.
I take a daily magnesium supplement because it’s also known as a great relaxer and can help with:
So I hope that clears up any confusion you might have had and highlights the many health benefits of magnesium.
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1. Gums J. Magnesium in cardiovascular and other disorders. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2004;61(4):1569-1574.
2. P. Mazidi, T. Khair, F. Zedudehhali & O. Petrucelli : Symptomatic Hypermagnesemia in the Absence of Renal Failure. The Internet Journal of Internal Medicine. 2009;9(1).
3. Kisters K, Wessels F, Nguyen MQ, Mitchell A, Gremmier B, Funke C, etal. Magnesium therapy in borderline hypertension. Trace Elements and Electrolytes. 2012;29(2):113-16).
4. Deflice SL. The benefits of magnesium: The diabetes connection. The Saturday Eveing Post. benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society. May/June 200.
5. Cabot S. Magnesium miracle mineral. Fishpond. Camden. Australia. 2007.