Magnesium, the fourth most plentiful element in your body, is involved in more than 300 different chemical reactions, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. For example, it helps with muscle and nerve function, steadies your heart rate, assists in immune system function and works in bone health. As if that weren’t enough multitasking, the wonder mineral also regulates blood sugar, encourages healthy blood pressure and helps with building protein. The National Institutes of Health is promoting research using magnesium in the treatment of various health issues such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.
Every organ in your body, but especially your heart and kidneys, requires magnesium. Moreover, the formation of your lean muscle mass, teeth and bones involves using the nutrient. Magnesium also regulates the activity of other nutrients, including copper, zinc, potassium and vitamin D. Adults have on average 25 g of magnesium stored in their bodies, with most of it in the skeletal system. Just 1 percent of it is circulating in your bloodstream, but various systems work to keep the level constant. Green leafy vegetables, bran, brown rice and almonds are rich sources of magnesium. Adult women need 320 milligrams of magnesium daily. Pregnant women need more magnesium -- between 360 and 400 milligrams, depending on age.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Eating foods rich in magnesium is associated with lower blood pressure. The University of Maryland Medical Center, reporting on the results of a large clinical study, states that higher dietary intake of magnesium decreases the risk of hypertension in women. Magnesium is thought to play a role in relaxing blood vessels, which helps to lower blood pressure. This is good news for pregnant women who have blood pressure disorders known as preeclampsia and eclampsia. Both conditions involve a sharp spike in blood pressure during the third trimester, and intravenous magnesium effectively treats them and prevents worsening symptoms, which may involve seizures.
Lowers Premenstrual Symptoms and Osteoporosis Risk
Magnesium also relieves symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. It’s particularly helpful for bloating, insomnia, swelling of legs, weight gain and tenderness of breasts. Combining magnesium with vitamin B-6 boosts its effectiveness. Scientists also know that a deficiency in magnesium, in addition to low calcium and vitamin D, plays a role in the development of osteoporosis. By consuming these nutrients more often and doing weight-bearing exercises, you can lower your risk.
Lowers Risk of Diabetes
In a longitudinal investigation originally meant to discern the link of low-dose aspirin and vitamin E on heart disease and cancer risk in women, scientists discovered that overweight women who consumed too little magnesium had a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The study involved nearly 40,000 participants between 1993 and 1996. The study supports widespread recommendations that women consume more food sources of magnesium.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Magnesium
- Linus Pauling Institute: Magnesium
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Elements
- Science Daily: Magnesium Supplements May Help Lower High Blood Pressure
- Diabetes Care: Dietary Magnesium Intake in Relation to Plasma Insulin Levels and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Women