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Magnesium is one of the most plentiful minerals in the human body, and it’s also one of the most important. It plays a role in causing more than 300 chemical reactions, and is partially responsible for helping maintain the health of the nerves, keeping a regular heartbeat, building muscles and more. Here’s some information on just some of the benefits of magnesium, how you get it, and how to get more if you need it.

How Magnesium Can Help Your Health

Each person has about 25 grams of magnesium in their system, with a little more than half of that amount stored in the bones. The remaining amount is dispersed through the tissues and muscles, and is also found in bodily fluids. If you have a magnesium deficiency, you might be at a higher risk of suffering bone weakness, heart problems, metabolism issues and insulin resistance (which often leads to diabetes).

But people with an ample supply of magnesium in their bodies can enjoy a wide variety of health benefits. These are just some of them:

· Stronger bones

Magnesium plays a vital role in helping bones absorb the calcium they need to stay strong. It also helps the body absorb vitamin D, which is also essential to bone health.

· A healthier heart

The heart is a muscle, and magnesium helps maintain the health of muscles. But it also helps lower the risk of contracting a problem known as atherosclerosis, which is an accumulating fat in the walls of arteries. One study showed that people with a high calcium intake who don’t get enough magnesium are at a higher risk of not only developing atherosclerosis but also cardiovascular disease.1

· More regular blood pressure

One of the main risk factors for heart problems, of course is blood pressure. Studies indicate that magnesium could play at least a small role in lowering blood pressure. Researchers analyzed 12 clinical trials that involved nearly 550 people who had been diagnosed with high blood pressure and were given between 243-973 mg of magnesium per day. Some of the patients participated for two months, while others remained involved for more than six months. The patients all exhibited at least a small reduction in diastolic blood pressure.2,3

· A lowered risk of contracting diabetes – Magnesium helps regulate the body’s metabolism of glucose and carbohydrates, so it also has a direct effect on a person’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes. There is scientific evidence that there is an inverse relationship between your intake of magnesium and your risk of developing the disease. One study involved approximately 4,000 participants whose health was tracked over a 20-year period. According to the results, the participants who had the highest intake of magnesium had 47 percent less of a chance of becoming diabetic.4

· Ease anxiety and soothe mood– If you don’t have enough magnesium you might have a higher chance of developing an anxiety disorder. Research shows that a diet low in magnesium can have a negative impact on certain glands that regulate the way we react to stressful situations.5,6 In addition, a study involving nearly 9,000 participants, researchers found that those 65 and younger with the lowest magnesium intake levels were 22 percent more likely to suffer from low moods than those who had an ample supply of the nutrient. 7

· Reduction in PMS symptoms – Women experiencing premenstrual syndrome often have to deal with extremely uncomfortable symptoms such as insomnia, swelling of the legs, breast tenderness, bloating and sudden weight gain. Research shows that a combination of magnesium with vitamin B6 could help ease those symptoms.8

· Improved efficiency when exercising – You will usually need more magnesium when you’re working out than when you’re at rest. Studies have shown that magnesium supplements can increase the effectiveness of workout routines in people with chronic diseases as well as elderly people. 9,10 One of the reasons why magnesium is so important during physical activity is that it helps transport blood sugar into the muscles and remove lactic acid. This, in turn, helps relieve some of the pain and soreness associated with working out.

How Much Magnesium Do You Need Each Day?

The amount of magnesium you need, whether you’re trying to lower your blood pressure or trying to get any of the other health benefits, will depend on your gender as well as your age. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), children between 1-3 years old need 80 mg a day, while children 4-8 need 130mg. Children ages 9-13 should get 240 mg per day.

After the age of 13, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) starts to diverge according to gender. Boys between the ages of 14 and 18 should get 410 mg of magnesium each day, while the RDA for girls in the same age group is 360 mg. Adult women need 310-320 mg per day (but the RDA for pregnant women, according to the NIH, is 350-400 mg). Adult men should get 400-420 mg per day.13

Do You Have a Magnesium Deficiency?

Many people don’t have enough magnesium because they either don’t get enough from their food or they have some sort of health issue that reduces their ability to absorb the nutrient. Certain medications can increase the speed with which magnesium is eliminated from the body, also leading to a deficiency.

There are a few groups of people who are more likely to suffer from magnesium deficiency than others. Here are some of them.

· People who have gastrointestinal issues – GI issues can lead to a gradual depletion of magnesium. Surgery involving the small intestine, such as a bypass or a resection, can also lead to the loss of the nutrient.

· Heavy Drinkers – People with an alcohol dependency also commonly experience a lack of magnesium. The reason doesn’t necessarily have to do with the act of drinking itself, but the symptoms associated with the disease. These include poor nutrition, diarrhea, pancreatitis, excess urination and a lack of vitamin D.

· The elderly – Older people tend to absorb less magnesium from their food and lose more through their kidneys. They are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases or use medications that can deplete their supply of magnesium.

How Do You Get More?

While magnesium supplements are typically effective, experts recommend that you get as much of the nutrient as you can through your diet. The reason is that your body tends to do a better job of absorbing not only the right amount of magnesium but other nutrients as well through the food you eat.15

The good news is that you can find ample amounts of magnesium in a wide variety of foods. These include dairy products, brown rice, certain meats, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Here are just a few examples of foods that are rich in magnesium.

· Almonds
· Bananas
· Black beans
· Black-eyed peas
· Brown rice
· Oatmeal
· Peanut butter
· Sesame seeds
· Shrimp
· Spinach

Different Types of Magnesium Supplements

The body has a hard time absorbing magnesium unless it combines with another substance such as an amino acid. This is one of the reasons that makers of magnesium oil and other supplements mix, or “chelate,” magnesium with certain “transporting substances” so the digestive system or other parts of the body can absorb it.

Talk to Your Doctor

It’s very important that you speak with a doctor before you start taking a magnesium supplement or you change your diet to get more of the nutrient. There are some people who have kidney issues that could suffer complications if they ingest too much magnesium.

If, however, you’re taking any sort of medication, you need to make sure you talk to your doctor first to make sure you won’t be at risk of a potentially dangerous interaction. But if you’re in overall good health, there is a very small likelihood that you’ll experience any kinds of problems. You should still, however, get medical advice to stay on the safe side.

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