There are few minerals that so readily make the case for a healthy diet and smart supplementation as magnesium. This mineral is essential for an incredible variety of processes in the body — not the least of which is the healthy formation and maintenance of bone.
In spite of this fact, nearly half of Americans don't consume enough magnesium. Instead, they may be taking drugs prescribed to address the symptoms caused by a simple magnesium deficiency.
Today we'll take a closer look at three of magnesium's many benefits — and how you can ensure you're getting enough of this bone-essential nutrient.
All About Magnesium
Magnesium is one of the hardest-working nutrients in the human body. Over 300 enzymes are dependent on magnesium to carry out critical operations that span most of our bodily systems.
This element regulates muscle function (including the most important muscle: the heart), nerve function, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, protein synthesis, bone formation, and also the replication and synthesis of DNA.
In spite of the body's continual and broad need for this nutrient, many Americans don't get enough of it on a daily basis. According to What We Eat in America (WWEIA), a dietary intake survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), 48 percent of men and 44 percent of women fail to meet the estimated average requirement (EAR) for magnesium intake, 265 mg per day for women and 350 mg per day for men.1
This figure is especially alarming because the EAR is a lower bar than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA). While the EAR is a nutrient intake value estimated to meet the requirement of only half the healthy individuals in a group, the RDA is the level sufficient to meet the requirement of nearly all individuals in that group.2
The RDA of magnesium for women above the age of 30 is 320mg, and for men is 420mg.3
Next up, you'll learn what getting the proper amount of this mineral can do for your health.4
Magnesium is required for hundreds of important bodily processes, but nearly half of Americans fail to intake enough of this important mineral.
Magnesium And Bone Health
Magnesium is especially important for Savers because of its role in bone health. Multiple animal studies have found that dietary restriction of magnesium promotes osteoporosis.5
One multi-study analysis stated that “Bones of Mg deficient animals are brittle and fragile, microfractures of the trabeculae can be detected and mechanical properties are severely impaired.” 6
The reasons for this are several. About 60 percent of total magnesium is stored in the bone. If magnesium intake levels are insufficient for the body to carry out the hundreds of functions that require this mineral, then the body will dismantle bone to access and use that magnesium.7
In addition to increasing bone resorption, a magnesium deficiency decreases bone formation, in part because it is required by the osteoblasts responsible for creating new bone.8
As if these two effects didn't cause enough damage to bones, magnesium deficiency also weakens bones by affecting hormones that regulate calcium levels, most notably parathyroid hormone (PTH).9 Additionally, low magnesium intake promotes inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which further contribute to bone loss. 10,11
Magnesium deficiency harms bones in many interrelated ways. The body resorbs bone to access magnesium in the bone matrix when intake is low. Mg deficiency also decreases new bone formation and promotes bone-damaging inflammation and oxidative stress.
Magnesium And Depression
Magnesium plays a role in mental health just as it does in physical health. Several studies have found that hospital patients with higher magnesium intake were less likely to be diagnosed with depression upon discharge.12,13
This finding is related to studies that have found a relationship between magnesium and the brain's reward system- the mechanism for releasing neurochemicals that create pleasant and positive feelings.14
At the same time, magnesium can help you destress by reducing the release of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH). ACTH stimulates the adrenal gland to release cortisol — also known as the stress hormone. Consistently elevated cortisol levels can cause chronic inflammation and a host of problems including depression.15,16
Magnesium has also been found to reduce insomnia in older adults. One double-blind study with 46 elderly participants found that a daily 500 mg magnesium supplement significantly improved subjective measures of insomnia such as sleep time, sleep efficiency, and sleep onset latency, as well as objective measures like serum melatonin and cortisol levels. 17
Magnesium plays an important role in brain health. Studies have found that increased magnesium intake reduces the effects of depression and insomnia — helping people improve their mental health and their sleep quality.
Magnesium And Diabetes
Magnesium helps to regulate blood sugar levels, in part by participating in insulin-mediated glucose uptake. Adequate dietary magnesium intake reduces insulin resistance, which helps to prevent diabetes. Conversely, a magnesium deficiency can result in increased insulin resistance and the development of diabetes.
One study of people with metabolic syndrome found that the participants with the highest magnesium intake were 71 percent less likely to have elevated insulin resistance — helping to avoid developing diabetes.18
Other studies that examined the relationship between low serum and dietary magnesium levels also linked a magnesium deficiency to diabetes as well as to hypertension and cardiovascular disease.19
Magnesium helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and a deficiency can lead to insulin resistance and the development of diabetes.
Magnesium And Hypothyroidism
Magnesium is essential for thyroid function. The thyroid is a gland located in the neck that creates hormones to regulate metabolism and critical bodily functions such as regulating the heartbeat and energy production.
A magnesium deficiency can cause hypothyroidism — a condition in which the thyroid gland underproduces hormones.20
Hypothyroidism increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, neuromuscular symptoms, weight gain, fatigue, and cognitive problems.21,22
Adequate magnesium intake prevents these problems by allowing the thyroid to maintain healthy hormone levels. In spite of this simple solution, doctors have made levothyroxine, a drug that treats hypothyroidism, the most prescribed drug in America.23
Magnesium deficiency prevents the thyroid from producing hormones that regulate metabolism and important bodily systems such as energy production and cardiovascular function.
Increase Your Magnesium Intake
Fortunately, it's easy to increase your magnesium levels through simple and natural measures. Unsurprisingly, magnesium is contained in many foods, and there are plenty of rich sources. An ounce of almonds, for example, contains no less than 80 mg of magnesium.
Below are some of the richest food sources of magnesium, listed from most to least magnesium content:
- Black beans*
- Peanut butter*
- Dark chocolate*
- Brown rice*
- Plain Yogurt*
- Kidney beans*
Naturally, a nutrient that is this important for your general wellness and bones alike is a Foundation Supplement, and supplementation is the best way to make sure you get enough magnesium every day (at least 400 mg).
A wide variety of foods provide magnesium, from almonds to yogurt to salmon, and supplementation ensures that you get a minimum of 420 mg of this critical nutrient.
Choose Natural Solutions
It's sad to think that doctors are prescribing drugs to counteract conditions that could be cleared up with a change in diet and supplementation.
Just as magnesium can be the key to reducing fatigue and anxiety, preventing insulin resistance, and maintaining a healthy thyroid, it's essential for reversing osteoporosis and maintaining youthful, resilient bones.
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