What does Magnesium do?
Posted on June 17 2019
Are you after a natural way to support healthy sleep, energy levels, bone strength and more? Have you ever considered magnesium? This essential mineral is responsible for more than 300 chemical reactions in the body.1 Our muscles need it to contract, our nerves need it to send messages and our heart needs it to beat steadily. Magnesium plays so many roles in our bodies that it’s hard to cram it all into one article. But we’ll try our best. Here goes:
Supports sleep naturally
If you’re struggling to drift off, or simply can’t stay asleep throughout the night, magnesium could help. It plays a role in supporting deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep.2 If your body is running low on magnesium, it’s likely that you’ll experience insomnia. We all know what a pain sleepless nights are, especially when they can be prevented, so it’s key to keep topped up with this essential mineral.
Manages mental performance
Magnesium may not be the first nutrient that comes to mind when you think of brain health, but it’s actually an incredibly important nutrient for our minds. It supports numerous functions related to brain performance, such as memory, mood and learning.
For example, if you’re struggling to concentrate, or finding it hard to absorb information, it could be due to excess cortisol. This is where magnesium can help. It restricts the release of stress hormones and acts as a filter to prevent them from entering the brain.3 Physical and emotional stress are an unfortunate reality of our ever-busy lives, and both drain your body of magnesium. Stress might deprive our bodies of magnesium, but we need magnesium to respond to this stress effectively. So, getting enough is vital.
Magnesium doesn’t just help us relax. It also influences brain plasticity, our brain’s ability to change and form new communication pathways, or synapses, between neurons.4 As we age, synapses can become less flexible, sometimes resulting in slow thinking and memory decline. Magnesium is key for controlling this important synapse density and plasticity.
Another way magnesium influences our brain health is by helping to improve mental focus. We all struggle with concentration from time to time, and magnesium can help clear pesky brain fog, leaving you feeling more alert. A deficiency could leave you restless, irritable and lacking focus, so you should keep an eye on how much magnesium you’re consuming.5
Better your bones and muscles
Magnesium is well-known for its role in supporting healthy bones, muscle contraction and the nervous system. It’s massively important for hundreds of enzymes in your body, 70% of which are found in bone. It also helps to alkalise your body, so you don’t lose as much calcium from your bones. Low magnesium levels can contribute to lower bone mineral density and can lead to osteoporosis.6
Since magnesium is primarily located in your muscular cells, it’s responsible for controlling neuromuscular signals.7 Some of the muscular benefits of Magnesium Glycinate include helping to reduce muscle spasms, cramping and soreness. Deficiencies in magnesium have been linked to pain and cramping, so if you're suffering, it's worth making sure your levels of this essential mineral are healthy.
What to remember
Magnesium is involved in tons of processes throughout the body. These include converting food into energy, blood glucose control, blood pressure regulation, bone development, DNA synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood vessel contraction, and the regulation of enzymes and hormones. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s so important to ensure your body is getting enough of this essential mineral.
1 Jahnen-Dechent, W., & Ketteler, M. (2012). Magnesium basics. Clinical kidney journal, 5(Suppl 1), i3–i14.
2 Boyle, N. B., Lawton, C., & Dye, L. (2017). The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 9(5), 429.
3 Cuciureanu MD, Vink R. Magnesium and stress. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press
4 Hoane MR. (2011). The role of magnesium therapy in learning and memory. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press.
5 DiNicolantonio, J. J., O'Keefe, J. H., & Wilson, W. (2018). Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open heart, 5(1), e000668.
6 Castiglioni, S., Cazzaniga, A., Albisetti, W., & Maier, J. A. (2013). Magnesium and osteoporosis: current state of knowledge and future research directions. Nutrients, 5(8), 3022–3033.
7 Gröber, U., Schmidt, J., & Kisters, K. (2015). Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients, 7(9), 8199–8226.