Magnesium is an essential nutrient that all too often misses the limelight afforded to big players like protein, iron and calcium – but it’s no less important! In fact, this wonder mineral is responsible for a range of functions, from brain, bone and heart health right down to keeping our mental health in check. Here are 4 of the key benefits to getting your daily dose of magnesium.
Magnesium is found in every cell in our bodies, with around 60% of our stores dedicated to our bones, and the remainder is intended for our muscles, tissues and blood. What this means, essentially, is that we can’t live without the stuff! It plays a vital role in regulating our nervous system, maintaining our DNA, converting food into energy and assisting with muscle health. Despite its importance, many of us are missing out on adequate levels of this nutrient, with true deficiency slated at around 2% of the population, though low magnesium levels affect a whopping 75% of us – but low magnesium stores come with grave consequences. There are a sizeable number of dangerous health conditions that arise when we let our intake slide – read on to find out what diseases magnesium protects us from, along with ways to guarantee you get your required hit of this powerhouse mineral. Let’s get into those 4 key benefits.
1. May combat depression
Magnesium doesn’t just play a massive role in physical health; it also happens to have critical importance in regulating mood and supporting healthy brain function. Low levels or deficiency in this nutrient have been associated with a higher risk for mood disorders like depression, with research showing these inadequate levels could leave you with a 22% higher risk for developing this debilitating condition. But it’s not just good for preventative measures, it may also reduce the severity of symptoms for the 6% of Aussies already struggling with depression. This includes the following common symptoms of this mood disorder:
- Persistent sadness
- Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
- Reduced energy level
- Poor concentration
- Sleep changes and disturbances
- Behavioural changes
- Reduced self-esteem
2. May support healthy blood sugar levels
Another impressive function of magnesium is helping to regulate our blood sugar levels, and the research backs up the necessity of this humble mineral. In fact, one study found that 48% of type 2 diabetics had low magnesium levels, indicating that their imbalanced blood sugars could be down to a lack of this nutrient.
Further to that point, more research found that those who consumed a heftier dose of magnesium were significantly less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. One of the reasons for this comes down to its ability to increase insulin sensitivity, which is essential for keeping those blood sugars in control.
3. May promote heart health
There is an arsenal of research supporting magnesium’s heart health-boosting benefits, with one study finding that this mineral can aid in lowering high blood pressure – a known risk for heart disease. More promising yet, further research proves that a higher intake of magnesium slashes your chances of developing heart disease or stroke. If you’re still not convinced, consider the fact that this powerhouse nutrient has been found to help balance good and bad – HDL and LDL – cholesterol levels – and high LDL cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. One study found that 53% of patients in an intensive cardiac care unit had dangerously low levels of magnesium, indicating that deficiency could be contributing to the increasing rates of heart-related diseases. We reckon that’s a pretty good reason to load up on this essential nutrient!
4. Fights migraines
Are you one of the 4.9 million Aussies who suffer from chronic migraines? There could be a cheap, easily-accessible, non-pharmacological solution. Magnesium supplementation has been proven to decrease the severity of migraines, along with significantly slashing the frequency of these attacks. In fact, this mineral is so powerful in treating this ailment that researchers recommend everyone with this condition takes a dose of oral magnesium. One study even found that magnesium supplementation had double the effectiveness of migraine medications.
Getting your dose of magnesium
Research suggests aiming for 900mg of magnesium per day is the key to getting good stores of this wonder mineral, though even half of this number will see you getting noticeable health benefits. You can find this wonder mineral in a range of foods – take a look at some of the foods highest in magnesium:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes like black-eyed peas and chickpeas
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate
If you’re after an extra boost of magnesium, there are a number of supplements on the market – though we recommend maintaining a balanced, magnesium-rich diet. If you do opt for a supplement, avoid magnesium oxide and go for citrate instead. The former is absorbed poorly, while the latter its known for its impressive bioavailability – meaning our bodies can make effective use of this mineral. In fact, there’s a bioavailability rate of an estimated 97% for magnesium citrate, making it the optimal choice.
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