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Magnesium provides many mental and physical health benefits.

The human body is a complicated organism that relies on a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to run correctly. Unfortunately, the modern diet is lacking many of these essential nutrients. Magnesium is often ignored by people promoting nutritional supplements, but it is actually incredibly important to overall health.

Though it is not talked about often, magnesium is one of the most common minerals in existence. In nature, magnesium often exists as magnesium chloride salts in the ocean or pure magnesium in plant chlorophyll. It is the second most abundant element that is found within human cells, and magnesium is responsible for managing hundreds of biochemical reactions in the human body. As a positive ion, magnesium regulates enzyme systems throughout the human body. This means that magnesium is involved in most of the bodily functions necessary for life.

Magnesium's main role in the human body is to regulate the enzymes that send chemical signals throughout the body. As an enzyme cofactor, magnesium switches enzymes on and tells them to do their work. It is required for the proper function of the ATP molecules that fuel the human body. The presence of magnesium is directly responsible for metabolizing sugar and fat into energy, creating DNA, contracting muscle fibers, building new cells, regulating mineral absorption, and controlling cholesterol storage. Due to its essential role, every organ, bone, and muscle in the human body requires magnesium for proper function, and magnesium levels affect many aspects of health.

One of magnesium's most important jobs is its effect on muscle contractions. Throughout the body, magnesium is responsible for relaxing muscle fibers after they contract. This makes it possible for you to move in certain ways, and it prevents cramps caused by permanently contracted muscles. Without magnesium to power your muscle movements, you would find yourself feeling weak and lethargic after basic acts like climbing stairs.

The bones of the body are constantly renewing themselves through the homeostasis process of osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Not only does magnesium help to regulate bone homeostasis, but it also ensures proper absorption of the vitamin D and calcium needed for bone health. A 2010 study from the Biological Trace Element Research journal found that magnesium supplementation could prevent osteoporosis in senior women.

There are many other physical ailments that can be prevented if a patient gets enough magnesium. It helps to lower cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and maintain muscle contractions, so adequate levels of magnesium are useful at reducing heart disease, stroke, and irregular heart rhythms. It also plays a crucial role in glucose metabolism, which affects blood sugar levels. Without magnesium, people are more likely to get type 2 diabetes.

Because it affects chemical reactions in the body, magnesium also has an effect on the brain and the neurotransmitters that regulate moods. Therefore, magnesium can help to alter your mental state. Cases of depression that are not treatable with typical medications can be eased through magnesium treatments according to a 2010 study. Magnesium seems to be a viable way of preventing or treating depression due to its role in hormone and neurotransmitter synthesis. This ensures that the brain gets enough dopamine and other pleasurable chemicals to counteract depression. Magnesium deficiency is so strongly linked to depression that some mental health experts theorize depression became more common due to a lack of magnesium-rich whole grains.

Depression may be the most dangerous mental disorder, but magnesium deficiencies are also linked to other issues like insomnia and anxiety disorders. Magnesium helps to soothe the brain by blocking excessive NMDA receptor activation. Constant activation of this receptor causes wear and tear on neurons, and it may even lead to cell death. The critical protective role of magnesium in the brain ensures that the brain gets a chance to rest, relax, and process information.

Magnesium also affects mental disorders because it has a role in hormone production. Certain stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, are produced whenever the adrenal gland is activated. Magnesium helps to suppress and slow down adrenal gland activation, protecting the body from all of these harmful hormones that increase blood pressure, anxiety, and stress. While a lack of magnesium can cause higher levels of stress, being under prolonged stress can also result in decreased levels of magnesium due to adrenal glands being overworked. For this reason, it's important to limit time in a stressful environment and increase your intake of magnesium by eating fewer processed foods.

Even if you do not suffer from severe mental disorders, a soothing magnesium bath can still be enough to boost your mental mood when you are feeling stressed or depressed. Deficiencies can cause confusion and mental loss because the brain has trouble storing and processing information when it does not have enough neurotransmitters and energy. In general, magnesium ensures that the brain is operating at its best level.

Because it is so effective at changing health, magnesium therapy is used to treat many different illnesses. The American Heart Association recommends that magnesium be administered intravenously in patients who are dealing with heart arrhythmias. Research also finds that pregnant women with eclampsia, a dangerous condition that causes seizures, can be treated with magnesium supplements. Some research even suggests that a few of the symptoms of alcoholism may be reduced when patients consume magnesium.

As you can see, magnesium is clearly a crucial mineral, but its role in biosynthesis is often overlooked. Sadly, a 2014 study by the International Journal of Laboratory Medicine found that between 2.5 to 15 percent of the population is deficient in magnesium. This condition, which is called hypomagnesemia, is rather common because the processed foods that make up a major portion of people's diet do not contain magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is heavily linked to the proton-pump inhibitor medications that are used to treat gastric reflux. People with Crohn's disease, type 2 diabetes, alcoholism, celiac disease, and regional enteritis are also at a greater risk of developing a magnesium deficiency.

At first, it can be difficult to notice signs of a mild magnesium deficiency, but as time progresses, symptoms of hypomagnesemia become very problematic. People who just have a slight magnesium inadequacy feel tired, weak, grumpy, and nauseous. When patients go from a reduced magnesium intake to absorbing almost no magnesium, they suffer from extreme muscle contractions, seizures, irregular heart rhythms, personality changes, and numbness. These signs of dangerous magnesium deficiencies can be life-threatening, but even milder deficiencies can cause health problems.

You may have a concerning magnesium inadequacy if you have experienced:

  • Regular muscle cramps and spasms
  • Recent diagnosis of heart disease
  • Trouble going to sleep or staying asleep
  • Slight tremors in the hands and feet
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Consistently high blood pressure
  • Feelings of excessive anxiety or depression
  • Diagnoses of type 2 diabetes
  • Other mineral deficiencies
  • Feeling weak during everyday physical activity
  • Inability to concentrate

To avoid these symptoms, you need to make sure that your body receives enough magnesium through your diet or with supplementation. The amount of magnesium needed each day increases with age because the human body gets less efficient at absorbing magnesium as people get older. Though men normally need more magnesium than women, women who are pregnant also need higher doses. Children need about 240 milligrams per day. Men under the age of 30 require roughly 400 milligrams daily, but once they get older, they will need at least 420 milligrams. Women under the age of 30 typically need about 310 milligrams daily, but if they are pregnant, they need 360 milligrams each day.

Fortunately, there are many ways to increase your magnesium levels. Since it is easily absorbed through the skin, you can rub a magnesium cream on your skin daily to remain healthy without changing how you eat. Epsom salts also contain moderate levels of magnesium, so soaking in an Epsom salt bath can increase magnesium levels.

Magnesium can be found in many different plant-based foods because it is a major ingredient in the chlorophyll that assists plants in photosynthesis. Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and collard greens all contain high magnesium levels, and magnesium also shows up in whole grains, nuts, and beans. There are also plenty of unflavored liquid magnesium supplements that can be added to drinks and smoothies to supplement your magnesium levels without altering your diet.

Magnesium is a crucial mineral that is involved in almost every function of the human body. Regardless of how you choose to get your magnesium, it is essential that you are getting enough each day. Not only does this mineral keep your bones, organs, and muscles in working order, but it is imperative for brain health. Without enough magnesium, you may end up suffering from mental illness, heart disease, impaired cognition, diabetes, or even other vitamin deficiencies. Keep an eye out for muscle cramps, weakness, trouble sleeping, elevated levels of stress or depression, and other signs that you may not be getting enough of this mineral. Be sure to get the recommended daily dose of magnesium and supplement however necessary to avoid magnesium deficiency.


  1. Aydin, H.; Short-term Oral Magnesium Supplementation Suppresses Bone Turnover in Postmenopausal Osteoporotic Women; National Center for Biotechnology Information; Published 01/02/10
  2. Ayuk, J.; Contemporary View of the Clinical Relevance of Magnesium Homeostasis; Sage Journals; Published 01/08/14
  3. Deans, E.; Magnesium and the Brain: The Original Chill Pill; Psychology Today; Published 06/12/11
  4. Ehrlich, S.; Magnesium; University of Maryland Medical Center; Published 08/06/15
  5. Euser, A.; Magnesium Sulfate Treatment for the Prevention of Eclampsia; Published 01/10/09
  6. Fassa, P.; 16 Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms - Signs of Low Magnesium Levels; Natural Society; Accessed 02/15/17
  7. Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals; National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements; Published 02/11/2016
  8. What is Magnesium? How it Functions in the Body; Ancient Minerals; Accessed 02/15/17