The name magnesium usually conjures images of silver-colored metal, and the last place we expect to find it is in our food. However this mineral is actually essential to our daily wellbeing, and without it, we can run into numerous health problems. Recent studies have found that up to 75% of adults in the US do not consume the recommended amount.
Why do we need magnesium?
Magnesium is essential for hundreds of processes in the body, but particularly in helping our body enter a rest and digest state. When we’re awake and alert, our sympathetic nervous system is at play, which is responsible for our fight-or-flight response.
However, when we rest, our parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for allowing our body to rest, repair, and digest our food. If we don’t have sufficient magnesium, we cannot move into this state.
Some of the other functions it is involved in are:
- Converting food into energy
- Creating new proteins from amino acids
- Creating and repairing DNA
- Creating and repairing RNA
- Contraction and relaxation of muscles
What are the benefits of taking a magnesium supplement?1) Improved Sleep
Because magnesium is so beneficial to our parasympathetic nervous system, boosting your magnesium intake with supplementation improves your ability to fall asleep and experience deep, restful sleep. These positive effects are further boosted when we pair it with vitamin B6, which also improves sleep quality. B6 in combination with magnesium thioglycolate has been seen to improve natural melatonin function, so together they’re a match made in heaven.2) Better Digestion
Magnesium smooths digestion and facilitates intestinal motility for better bowel movements.3) Improved Muscle Function
Every muscle in the body benefits from magnesium, including your heart. When we exercise, our body needs 10-20% more magnesium than it does at rest. The magnesium helps move blood sugar into the muscles and clear lactate, which causes that burning feeling when it builds up. Many studies have found that magnesium supplementation naturally improved performance in athletes. One study found that volleyball players who supplemented at just 250mg a day experienced improved performance.4) Improved Muscle Recovery
Magnesium supplementation helps improve muscle function and the enzymes that aid in muscle recovery after exercise, clearing lactate and ensuring you rest so it can repair itself.5) Decreases Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance leads to obesity and diabetes, so it’s important to encourage healthy insulin function within the body. Magnesium is essential to enzyme function and so it can help decrease the need for insulin and may even make weight loss a little easier. One study that followed over 4,000 participants for 20 years found that those who had a high magnesium intake were 47% less likely to develop diabetes.
(It is important to note that this is likely linked to the fact that those who have a high magnesium intake eat a balanced diet and look after their physical health, not continue to live an unhealthy lifestyle while taking a supplement.)6) Fewer Cramps
Muscle cramps are a sign of tension in our muscles, which is an excitatory state for the sympathetic nervous system. Magnesium supplementation can help relax the muscles so you experience fewer cramps.7) Improved Mental Health
One of the biggest symptoms of magnesium deficiency is anxiety and/or depression. Magnesium is essential to brain function and mood stability, and adults with a magnesium deficiency are 22% more likely to suffer from depression. Supplementing with magnesium may reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and some study participants have even seen dramatic improvements as successful as antidepressants.8) Lower Blood Pressure
Magnesium has been seen in numerous studies to lower blood pressure. In one of these studies, people who ate a little over the FDA recommended amount (eating 450mg a day) saw a significant decrease in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure.9) Helps Prevent and Reduce the Severity of Migraines
Magnesium has been found to help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines, and even treat them when they come on. Migraines can be debilitating, causing the sufferer to feel nausea or even vomit, have to lie still to endure the pain and other symptoms that make living life normally with a migraine impossible. One study even found that participants who took 1 gram of magnesium (about double the daily recommended intake) had as much relief from an acute migraine as common medications, and found relief much more quickly.
How should I take magnesium?
Magnesium can be found in a range of foods, such as seeds, nuts, greens, and legumes, but it’s not always easy to get your full daily recommended intake through your meals alone. Taking a magnesium supplement is the best way to ensure your body gets your daily recommended intake.
As with taking any supplement, you should talk to your doctor if you have a preexisting condition to ensure it is safe for you to take. Magnesium is well-tolerated but if you have a blood disorder, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and similar issues, then make sure you talk to your doctor to get the go-ahead.
Our Rest & Digest supplement provides you with your daily recommended intake of magnesium and combines it with B6 to offer a supplement that encourages deep, restful, and productive sleep. You simply take 2 capsules before bed and you’ll be able to reap many of the benefits we talked about above. Click here to learn more about Rest & Digest.
Dr. Nancy Rahnama, MD, ABOM, ABIM, is a medical doctor board certified by both the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Her specialty is Clinical Nutrition, that is, the use of nutrition by a medical doctor to diagnose and treat disease. Dr. Rahnama has helped thousands of people achieve their goals of weight loss, gut health, improved mood and sleep, and managing chronic disease.