Magnesium is a crucial mineral that plays a part in keeping many of your body systems running at peak performance. Nutrient-packed foods such as spinach, Swiss chard, and almonds are rich in magnesium and provide health benefits that keep your body going strong. Magnesium is a mineral that might not get much attention, but it is hard at work in your body, regulating the proper function of nerves, muscles, cells, and bone. Here are 10 ways you might not realize magnesium is keeping you healthy.
10. Increases Energy
Magnesium provides energy for your body by activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of your cells. Low levels of magnesium can leave you feeling fatigued. The Recommended Dietary Allowance of magnesium for adults over the age of 30 is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women. One ounce of dry roasted almonds provides 80 mg of magnesium. For a double dose of magnesium, enjoy a spinach salad sprinkled with almonds.
9. Calms Anxiety
Magnesium relieves stress and anxiety by binding to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that inhibits the firing of neurons in your brain. Too little GABA leads to a brain that is overactive, resulting in anxiety, stress, or even panic attacks. In addition to decreasing anxiety through GABA receptors, magnesium relieves stress by restricting the release of stress hormones such as cortisol. A third way magnesium can decrease anxiety levels is by helping to stabilize blood sugar levels, which means a healthy blood supply to the brain.
8. Helps You Sleep
Another benefit of magnesium is deep, sound sleep. The neurotransmitter GABA promotes healthy sleep as well as relief from anxiety. A diet with the proper amount of magnesium maintains proper levels of GABA to ensure a night of restorative sleep. Magnesium also prevents disruption of sleep from restless leg syndrome.
7. Aids in Digestion
Magnesium mobilizes digestive enzymes that help your body break down the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you eat into fuel your body can use. Activation of ATP provides the energy your body needs for the digestion process. Magnesium prevents constipation by relaxing your bowels and keeping food moving through your digestive tract.
6. Relieves Aching Muscles
Low levels of magnesium can lead to painful, aching muscles. Magnesium is a calcium channel blocker. This means it blocks the effects of calcium on the proteins of your muscle, which causes contractions. When magnesium binds with these proteins, calcium is unable to bind there, and the muscles can relax.
5. Regulates Potassium and Sodium
Sodium and potassium are minerals that work together to regulate the body’s fluid and blood volume. Potassium is a negatively charged ion, and sodium is a positively charged ion. In order for cells in your nervous system to be able to send proper signals, they need appropriate levels of potassium inside the cells and sodium outside the cells. Magnesium is an electrolyte that allows potassium to cross cell membranes in order to enter the cells for proper function. Low levels of magnesium mean that potassium isn’t able to cross cell barriers to perform its job.
4. Prevents Heart Attack
Proper levels of magnesium prevent abnormal electrical impulses known as cardiac arrhythmias. Magnesium lowers blood pressure and prevents the formation of atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart attack. Magnesium also aids in exercise tolerance for those diagnosed with heart conditions and decrease chest pain caused by exercise.
3. Prevents Migraines
Magnesium may play a role in the prevention of migraines. Since magnesium works to decrease the constriction of blood vessels, it can prevent the throbbing ache of blood vessels in the head. The effect of magnesium on neurotransmitters in the brain may also help prevent headaches. Magnesium oxide pills in doses of 400-500 mg per day can prevent painful migraine episodes and premenstrual migraines.
2. Prevents Osteoporosis
Your bones are living tissues that are constantly being broken down and replaced with new cells. Osteoporosis occurs when the formation of new bone does not keep up with the breakdown of old bone cells. This results in bones that are weak, brittle, and easily fractured. Calcium is a critical mineral for the formation of bones. Magnesium aids in the formation of strong, healthy bone tissue by aiding in the absorption of calcium. Additionally, magnesium stimulates the thyroid to produce calcitonin, which protects your bones.
1. Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Magnesium plays a role in glucose control. It helps to metabolize glucose and prevent insulin resistance. A diet rich in magnesium can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. Including dark, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, bananas and broccoli in your diet can help improve insulin sensitivity and stave off diabetes. While magnesium is available as a supplement, too much magnesium can result in digestive issues, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.