Magnesium is an underrated micronutrient that is essential for health. It’s the 11th most abundant mineral in the human body, and the average person contains around 25 grams of magnesium, mostly residing in the bones and soft tissue.
Magnesium supports the body in a number of ways, and we’re going to cover why this mineral is so vital for health in this article. We will first cover the foods that are rich in magnesium so you can ensure you’re consuming enough of it.
What Foods Are Rich in Magnesium?
You’ll find a high amount of magnesium in the following foods:
- Dark leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and spinach
- Cocoa or cacao products, such as dark chocolate or cacao nibs
- Citrus fruits
- Seeds, including pumpkin, flax, sesame, and chia seeds.
You can also consume magnesium in supplements if you’re struggling to eat enough of this essential micronutrient in your diet. There are several different kinds of magnesium, each of which supports your body in slightly different ways.
Magnesium Lysinate Glycinate Chelate is a popular choice and aids digestion, especially for those with a sensitive gastrointestinal tract or pre-existing digestive issues. You can also purchase the following type of magnesium, each of which elicits a unique effect:
- Magnesium citrate – anxiety relief
- Magnesium oxide – digestive symptoms
- Magnesium chloride – relief of muscle soreness
- Magnesium lactate – reducing stress and muscle soreness
- Magnesium carbonate – relief of digestive symptoms
- Magnesium malate – relief of muscle soreness and fatigue
- Magnesium taurate – blood sugar regulation
What is the Role of Magnesium in the Body?
Magnesium is a cofactor (helper) in over 300 reactions in the body. Therefore, it’s necessary for your body to function optimally and remain healthy. Let’s take a closer look at the key roles of magnesium within the body.
Enzymes are proteins in the body that catalyze (speed up) biochemical reactions and ensure your body functions efficiently. Magnesium plays a vital role in over 300 enzymatic reactions, including those involved in DNA synthesis, protein synthesis, and muscle contractions.
The body produces energy from the breakdown of ingested foods or energy stores, such as glycogen or fat tissue. Magnesium helps your body metabolize carbohydrates and fats to absorb them into the bloodstream and use them for energy.
It’s because of magnesium’s role in energy production that deficiencies in this micronutrient can cause fatigue.
Muscle and Nerve Function
For your body to move, your skeletal muscles must contract. For this, they need a constant supply of magnesium, which helps the muscle fibers contract and relax, alongside calcium.
Magnesium also plays a role in nerve transmission throughout the entire body. The brain sends signals to the organs and tissues of the body, and vice versa, via nerve cells. For your body to send these signals efficiently, you need adequate magnesium.
The immune system requires a range of micronutrients to function well, one of which is magnesium. Magnesium helps to regulate the immune response and promotes the production of pathogen-killing white blood cells that identify and destroy foreign substances within the bloodstream.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas in response to high blood glucose levels. Insulin helps the cells to uptake glucose and remove it from the bloodstream to return plasma glucose levels to within a healthy range.
Magnesium supports the secretion and function of insulin. Therefore, it contributes to blood sugar regulation and reduces the risk of insulin resistance and related diseases, such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Over half of the magnesium found within the body is stored in bones. It’s a critical component of bone tissue and aids in the absorption and metabolism of calcium.
It promotes improved and well-maintained bone density and strength, which is particularly essential older adults who are more at risk of bone-related diseases, such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
Stress Reduction and Sleep
It’s long been known that magnesium elicits calming effects on the body. It can regulate nerve impulse transmission, calming down the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for the stress response.
Magnesium can also act as an anxiolytic agent, meaning it reduces anxiety and associated symptoms. Due to magnesium’s calming effects, it’s a beneficial supplement to take just before you go to sleep. It will help you get to sleep more easily and stay asleep during the night, so you wake up feeling refreshed.