Magnesium is one of the most essential minerals that is crucial to our body’s function. It plays a major role in some of the body’s most important cellular reactions, including muscle and nerve function, bone formation and strength, regulation of blood glucose and blood pressure, and the creation of protein. (1)
Among its many functions in the body, magnesium plays an active role in the transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes. This process is important for muscle contraction and normal heart rhythm, specifically via the conduction nerve impulses. In general, balanced levels in your body result in a calmer, more functional nervous system.
A healthy nervous system impacts almost every aspect of your physiology and overall wellness. It even impacts your quality of sleep. (2, 3) Lack of restful sleep can compound a number of negative conditions including stress, anxiety, and some mild to serious cardiovascular problems. (4) Having enough magnesium in your diet can help regulate your nervous system, improve sleep, and may help prevent additional nervous conditions like anxiety.
For this reason, scientists are pursuing further studies to support the link between proper magnesium intake as a component in reducing overall stress and anxiety in individuals. (5, 6)
When your body is missing an element as essential as magnesium, it’s not surprising that it might react negatively. Unfortunately, identifying whether or not you have a magnesium deficiency can be difficult. Many symptoms are non-specific to the deficiency alone and may characterize other unrelated conditions. However, experiencing any of the following may point to a magnesium deficiency:
If levels of magnesium in the body remain too low for a longer period of time, symptoms may escalate and become more distinguishable. A more advanced magnesium deficiency may be characterized by:
The most common cause of Magnesium deficiency is malnutrition. The body relies on your dietary intake of minerals to thrive. Therefore, not eating enough magnesium-rich foods is the most likely root cause of a deficiency. However, other problems may reduce the body’s ability to absorb the minerals it needs, such as gastrointestinal issues and diarrhea. Pre-existing conditions such as diabetes mellitus, alcoholism, hyperthyroidism, and stress can also result in magnesium deficiency. (1)
Magnesium—like the majority of essential vitamins and minerals (7)— is mainly absorbed in the small intestine. This means that the best way to supply your body with the amount it needs is through your diet.
The chlorophyll that is abundantly present in all green plants is a major source of magnesium. This makes green vegetables a prime source for magnesium in your diet. Nuts, seeds and unprocessed grains/cereals, are also quite high in magnesium, but not the highest. Legumes, fruit, meat, and fish contain a notable amount of magnesium, but not as much as the prior sources listed. Drinking enough water can also account for up to 10% of your body’s required magnesium intake! (1, 7)
It’s always important to remember that too much of any mineral can be harmful, and magnesium is no different. Consult a doctor or dietitian before adding magnesium supplements into your regimen, and remember that supplements should never replace a complete and nutritious diet. Focus on consuming naturally magnesium-rich foods to supply your body with what it needs!