Magnesium: An Essential Mineral

Magnesium: An Essential Mineral


It’s estimated that nearly 50% of Americans are deficient in magnesium.* This can have huge ramifications for health and quality of life. In the world of nutrition, minerals are divided into two categories– trace minerals and macrominerals. Trace minerals or microminerals are required in only small amounts by our body. Macrominerals (macro = large) are minerals needed in large quantities for the body to function properly. These include magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur. Why is magnesium so important and what types of foods contain magnesium? Read on to find out more. 

Foods Containing Magnesium

Top view of small jars with nuts and seeds, magnesium

Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocado, spinach and brown rice are all high in magnesium. Magnesium is found in high amounts in nuts, seeds and whole grains like oatmeal. A tablespoon of peanut butter on a slice of whole grain bread will give you a hearty serving of about 47 mg of magnesium. Nuts, grains and seeds, although high in magnesium, often contain a plant compound called phytic acid. Studies show phytic acid reduces the absorption of magnesium. Breads made with sprouted grains allow more magnesium to be available for absorption. The process of “sprouting” blocks the activity of phytic acid.

Why Magnesium Deficiency is so Common

Two hands holding seedling in soil

Although we need magnesium for over 300 chemical processes within the body, most of us do not get enough of this mineral. Some scientific research suggests that soil depletion may have resulted in lower magnesium content in grains, but this is inconclusive. Western diets are high in refined grains which remove the parts of the grains that are full of nutrients like magnesium. In general, the more processed a food is, the lower its magnesium content. The popularity of low carbohydrate diets has also reduced the consumption of whole grain products which indirectly affects how much magnesium we take in. Seeds and nuts are high in magnesium but due to their high calorie content, these are eaten more sparingly or omitted from the diet altogether in some cases. Nut allergies are increasingly common so this obviously removes a rich source of magnesium from the diet. There is also some evidence that the body utilizes larger amounts of magnesium when we are experiencing intense stress.

What are the Benefits of Magnesium?

Couple working out indoors, stretching

Magnesium Supports Circulatory Health: Magnesium promotes circulation by improving the body’s production of nitric oxide.* Nitric oxide dilates the blood vessels, making them wider. This action promotes easier blood flow.* If you are taking high blood pressure medication, consult your physician before taking a magnesium supplement to prevent unsafe drops in blood pressure. 

Magnesium Supports Brain Health: NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors in our brain regulate learning, memory and mood. Magnesium can lessen the effect of excitatory neurotransmitters on these NMDA receptors, contributing to a calm and positive mood.* Magnesium also increases GABA levels within the brain which reduce tense feelings and impart a sense of relaxation.*

Magnesium Supports Physical Endurance: Studies show magnesium increases the availability of glucose within the muscles.* It also delays the accumulation of lactate in the body’s tissues.* Lactate build up in the muscles is responsible for the soreness you feel after an intense exercise session.

Magnesium Supports Blood Sugar Levels: Because magnesium improves the use of glucose as fuel, it also supports healthy blood sugar levels.* A review of several studies found that supplementing with a minimum of 250 mg of magnesium for at least 6 weeks reduced fasting blood sugar levels.

Magnesium Supports Nutrient Balance: Calcium, sodium and potassium cannot efficiently be transported into cells without adequate magnesium.* Low levels of calcium and potassium may be related to getting too little magnesium from the diet.* Imbalances in calcium and potassium can lead to serious heart problems and kidney issues.

Magnesium Supports Bone Health: Magnesium’s positive interaction with nutrients crucial for healthy bones, such as calcium and vitamin D, underscore its importance in maintaining healthy bone structure. Numerous studies demonstrate that magnesium supplements result in increased bone density when compared to placebo.* Magnesium is vitally important for post-menopausal women that are more susceptible to bone loss.*

How Much Magnesium Do I Need?

Foods containing magnesium (chocolate, nuts, avocado, bananas) on a blue wood background

The recommended daily allowance for male adults is 400–420 mg per day and 310–320 mg per day for women. If you choose to take a magnesium supplement you can take small amounts spread throughout the day. Some people find that magnesium makes them feel very relaxed so they opt to just take one dose in the evening or right before bedtime. You can choose which works for you. Magnesium is best taken with food or after a meal to lessen the chance of unwanted laxative effects.

Magnesium Supplements

Nature's Lab Magnesium Glycinate on gray background with foods containing magnesium

Magnesium is often chelated or attached to an organic compound such as an amino acid to improve absorption. In our Six Daily multivitamin we use magnesium oxide, a combination of magnesium and oxygen, along with magnesium aspartate. Magnesium aspartate is a bioavailable chelated form of magnesium bound to an amino acid called aspartic acid. For our Magnesium Glycinate formula we utilize magnesium glycinate with magnesium oxide. Magnesium glycinate is also a high absorption chelated form of magnesium which is essentially a combination of magnesium with the amino acid glycine.* Attaching it to an amino acid significantly improves the uptake of this mineral within the digestive system.* Magnesium glycinate is less likely to cause a laxative effect than other forms of magnesium.* Our Magnesium Soothe is a powdered drink formula with a blend of magnesium carbonate (a magnesium salt) and the calming amino acid l-theanine. If you’re interested in supplementing with magnesium check out our magnesium supporting formulas, Magnesium Glycinate, Magnesium Soothe and Six Daily multivitamin.


References

Ewa, P. (2008). Benzodiazepine/gaba(a) receptors are involved in magnesium-induced anxiolytic-like behavior in mice. Pharmacological reports : PR. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18799816/ 

ScienceDaily. (2018, February 26). Low magnesium levels make vitamin D ineffective. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180226122548.htm 

Magnesium-rich food information. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15650-magnesium-rich-food

Magnesium. Linus Pauling Institute. (2022, January 3). Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/magnesium

Houston, M. (2011, November). The role of magnesium in hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Journal of clinical hypertension (Greenwich, Conn.). Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8108907/ 

MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Hypomagnesemia: What to know about low magnesium. Medical News Today. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321735

Pochwat, B., Szewczyk, B., Sowa-Kucma, M., Siwek, A., Doboszewska, U., Piekoszewski, W., Gruca, P., Papp, M., & Nowak, G. (2014, March 1). Antidepressant-like activity of magnesium in the chronic mild stress model in rats: Alterations in the NMDA receptor subunits. OUP Academic. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://academic.oup.com/ijnp/article/17/3/393/759123

Zhang, Y., Xun, P., Wang, R., Mao, L., & He, K. (2017, August 28). Can magnesium enhance exercise performance? Nutrients. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622706/

ELDerawi, W. A., Naser, I. A., Taleb, M. H., & Abutair, A. S. (2018, December 26). The effects of oral magnesium supplementation on glycemic response among type 2 diabetes patients. Nutrients. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6356710/

Morais, J.B.S., Severo ,J.S., de Alencar, G.R.R., de Oliveira A.R.S., Cruz, K.J.C.; Marreiro, D.D.N., Freitas, B.J.E.S.A., de Carvalho, C.M.R., Martins, M.D.C.C.E., Frota, K.M.G., (2017, June). Effect of magnesium supplementation on insulin resistance in humans: A systematic review. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.). Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28526383/

Rondanelli, M., Faliva, M. A., Tartara, A., Gasparri, C., Perna, S., Infantino, V., Riva, A., Petrangolini, G., & Peroni, G. (2021, August). An update on magnesium and Bone Health. Biometals : an international journal on the role of metal ions in biology, biochemistry, and medicine. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8313472/#CR6

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