Magnesium plays a role in over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body, including the metabolism of food, synthesis of fatty acids and proteins, and the transmission of nerve impulses.
The human body contains around 25 gram (g) of magnesium, 50 to 60 percent of which is stored in the skeletal system. The rest is present in muscle, soft tissues, and bodily fluids.
Magnesium is one of seven essential macrominerals.
These are minerals that need to be consumed in relatively large amounts, at least 100 milligrams (mg) per day.
Adequate intake can help prevent problems with bones, the cardiovascular system, diabetes, and other functions.
The following health benefits have been associated with magnesium.
1. Bone Health
Magnesium is important for bone formation. It helps assimilate calcium into the bone and plays a role in activating vitamin D in the kidneys. Vitamin D is also essential for healthy bones.
Optimal magnesium intake is associated with greater bone density, improved bone crystal formation, and a lower risk of osteoporosis in women after menopause.
2. Calcium Absorption
Calcium and magnesium are important for maintaining bone health and preventing osteoporosis.
Without magnesium, a high intake of calcium can increase the risk of arterial calcification and cardiovascular disease, as well as kidney stones.
Anyone who is taking calcium supplements should also take magnesium to ensure their calcium intake is properly metabolized.
Magnesium plays an important role in carbohydrate and glucose metabolism, so magnesium status can also impact the risk of diabetes.
Several studies have associated a higher intake of magnesium with a lower risk of diabetes.
For every 100 mg per day increase in magnesium intake, up to a point, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes decreases by approximately 15 percent. Low magnesium levels were linked to impaired insulin secretion and lower insulin sensitivity.
In most of these studies, the magnesium intake was from dietary sources. However, other studies have shown improvement in insulin sensitivity with a magnesium supplement intake of between 300 and 365 mg per day.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Diabetes Association note that further evidence is needed before magnesium can be routinely used for glycemic control in patients with diabetes.
4. Heart health
Magnesium is necessary to maintain the health of muscles, including the heart, and for the transmission of electrical signals in the body.
Adequate magnesium intake has been associated with a lower risk of:
atherosclerosis, a fatty buildup on the walls of arteries
hypertension, or high blood pressure
Patients who receive magnesium soon after a heart attack have a lower risk of mortality. Magnesium is sometimes used as part of the treatment for congestive heart failure (CHF), to reduce the risk of arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm.
5. Migraine headaches
Small studies have suggested that magnesium therapy may help prevent or relieve headaches, but the amount likely to be needed to make a difference is high. It should only be administered by a health professional.
6. Premenstrual syndrome
Ensuring an adequate intake of magnesium, especially combined with vitamin B6, may help relievesymptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as bloating, insomnia, leg swelling, weight gain, and breast tenderness.
7. Relieving anxiety
Reductions in magnesium levels, or changes in the way that it is processed, have been linked to increased levels of anxiety.
This appears to related activity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a set of three glands that control a person’s reaction to stress.
Research has shown that a low-magnesium diet may alter the types of bacteria present in the gut, and this may impact anxiety-based behavior.