nutrition

What is Magnesium's Role in the Human Body: The Science Made Simple

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

5 min read

Woman sleeping peacefully

Magnesium is found in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate a whole range of important biochemical functions.

What is Magnesium’s role in the human body?

Magnesium is a major mineral in the body. It’s found in more than 300 enzyme systems – systems that regulate a whole range of important biochemical functions in the body, including blood pressure regulation, muscle and nerve function, and blood glucose control. It helps synthesize DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione. It acts as a gatekeeper for the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, which aid memory and learning. And it’s essential to bone health and heart health. Some magnesium rich foods include almonds, green leafy vegetables, and peanuts.

What’s the right Magnesium dosage for me?

The right magnesium dosage for you depends on your age and gender. Adult men should aim for 420 mg per day, and adult women should aim for 320 mg per today as per the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). During pregnancy, however, adult women should up their magnesium supplement dose to 400 mg. Upper limits are meant to prevent excessive intake of nutrients and are different from the RDA. According to the NIH the tolerable upper intake level (also referred to as the upper limit (UL)) for supplementing with magnesium is 350mg daily.

What are the health benefits of maintaining healthy Magnesium levels?

Maintaining healthy magnesium levels is essential to your overall health, mental and physical. Magnesium is one of seven macrominerals in the body – minerals of which people need to maintain relatively large amounts. Still, many people don’t get enough magnesium in their diets, despite the availability of some magnesium rich foods.

Having a healthy magnesium level supports hundreds of biochemical reactions in your body. It may boost exercise performance, support brain health, support healthy blood sugar levels, and promote heart health. Some studies also indicate that it can improve PMS symptoms.

May support maintenance of healthy blood pressure

This year, the FDA approved a qualified claim that consuming adequate magnesium could lower blood pressure. Still, the FDA maintains that more research is necessary.

May support heart health

A recent study showed that maintaining adequate magnesium levels could support heart health. However, as with magnesium’s effect on blood pressure, more research is necessary to determine its true effectiveness. The FDA deemed the existing evidence as “inconsistent and inconclusive.”

May maintain healthy blood sugar levels

Since magnesium plays an important role in glucose metabolism, it helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Indeed, a meta-analysis of seven studies showed that a 100 mg/day increase of magnesium intake resulted in healthier blood sugar levels.

May support sleep quality

Studies have shown that boosting your magnesium intake can improve your sleep. A recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study of older adults showed that taking 500 mg magnesium daily for eight weeks helped them fall asleep faster and sleep longer. Another study found that you may benefit from combining your magnesium supplement with melatonin and vitamin B. Subjects of this study experienced much improved sleep and overall quality of life as a result.

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May combat PMS symptoms

If you’re experiencing PMS symptoms, you may also be experiencing a magnesium deficiency. Studies have shown that, for women with PMS, a magnesium supplement can have significant health benefits. The effect of magnesium supplement has been established in different studies, but better results have resulted from combining magnesium with other vitamins. A study from the National Institutes of Health showed that women who took magnesium along with a vitamin B6 supplement experienced significant improvement compared to the women in the placebo group. While magnesium wasn’t shown to be helpful in all cases, there’s enough research to suggest that you’d benefit from giving it a try.

Helps support bone health

More than half of your body’s magnesium is found in your bones. Maintaining adequate magnesium levels is vital for your bone health. Studies have consistently demonstrated that having lower levels of the magnesium mineral can weaken overall bone health and are greater risk of bone injury. By contrast, those who have adequate magnesium levels have been shown to have greater bone resiliency. A recent review of twelve studies showed that higher magnesium intake can lead to greater bone density in the femoral neck and hip for older adults.

May help with headaches

Anyone who’s ever experienced headaches knows how painful they can be. If you’re worried about headaches, magnesium might be part of the solution. Some researchers have suggested that people who experience headaches are more likely to have a magnesium deficiency – and some studies have shown that magnesium may manage headaches.

May promote balanced state of mind

Low magnesium levels have been linked to poor brain health and mood. A study from the National Institutes of Health found that healthy magnesium levels can promote a healthy, balanced state of mind. Another study – a six-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study – found that taking 248 mg per day resulted in greater balance in mood and state of mind.

May boost exercise performance

Magnesium supplementation can have a positive impact on your exercise performance. Since magnesium serves so many vital functions in the body – present in 300 enzymes and aiding in muscle function and energy production – it is essential to your overall physical activity. Studies of the connection between magnesium supplementation and exercise showed that physical activity increased. Meanwhile, animal studies have indicated that magnesium may enhance exercise performance by boosting glucose availability in the brain, muscles, and blood, and by reducing lactate accumulation in your muscles.

Does Magnesium have any side effects?

Taking supplements of any kind can result in side effects, and the same is true of magnesium. However, when taken in appropriate doses, magnesium supplements pose very little risk. Some side effects may include diarrhea, cramping, and nausea.

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