The health benefits of magnesium should never be ignored. We normally hear about the importance of iron and calcium, and vitamins C and D. We don’t hear much about magnesium, however, and this mineral, when one becomes deficient, can lead to severe health consequences. Not only that, but an estimated 80% of Americans are deficient in this mineral, and they may never know it since it is hard to measure with blood testing.
7 Top Health Benefits of Magnesium
The enzymes in our body require magnesium to undergo their daily reactions. In fact, magnesium is found in over 300 different enzymes in the body which are responsible for things like:
1) Proper Bowel Function
In the digestive tract, magnesium acts as a coenzyme – it breaks down food and helps assimilate the nutrients into the cells of your body. The hydrochloric acid in your stomach is also dependent on magnesium for its production and assimilation, as well as the bile in your liver.
2) Heart Muscle Contraction
Magnesium helps transport potassium, calcium and other ions across cell membranes, and without proper coordination and participation of magnesium to help these nutrients into cell membranes, then our heart would not properly function. This crucial function of magnesium in our bodies helps promote healthy muscle contraction, normal heart rhythm, and healthy nerve impulses.
3) Relaxation of Blood Vessels
Magnesium is vital for muscle relaxation. Arteries and vessels are made up primarily of smooth muscle (the middle layer called the “Tunica Media”), and this muscle contracts and relaxes like a pump, allowing blood to flow through the body. Research has shown that magnesium acts to relax blood vessels (vasodilaton), which is associated with lower blood pressure.
4) Regulating Blood Sugar Levels
In fact, without enough magnesium in your body, you may be prone to developing diabetes. Magnesium deficiency has been directly linked to insulin resistance, and thus, increases your chances of becoming diabetic or developing some other chronic health issue.
5) Proper Formation of Bones and Teeth
We normally only think of calcium when it comes to maintaining healthy bones and teeth, however, magnesium is also a large player in this case as well. About half of your body’s magnesium supply is stored in your bones and it helps strengthen the structure of our bones with the help of vitamin D and calcium.
6) Creation of ATP (energy molecules of the body)
Magnesium is essential for proper ATP synthesis. ATP requires magnesium in order to be stable, and without magnesium, ATP would break down into other components called ADP and inorganic phosphate. Without enough magnesium, our ATP synthesis slows and doesn’t work as it should which can lead to serious health issues.
7) Reduces Cancer Risk
The body’s most powerful antioxidant, “glutathione,” requires magnesium to function properly. When magnesium is present, the body can properly shield itself from heavy metals, environmental chemicals, pesticides and herbicides, all factors that determine your risk for developing cancer. In fact, increasing magnesium to just 100 mg extra per day has been found to reduce a person’s risk for developing colorectal cancer by around 13 percent!
Magnesium has been found to help in a variety of health-related cases, such as those suffering from fibromyalgia, atrial fibrillation, type 2 diabetes, PMS, cardiovascular disease, migraines, and aging.
Incorporating magnesium into your diet is not as difficult as it may seem. In fact, many fruit and vegetables contain magnesium, which could dramatically improve your health. Chlorophyll, which creates the beautiful green colour of many of the plant foods we eat, allows the plant to capture solar energy and convert it into metabolic energy. This molecule contains a magnesium atom in its centre, and is also highly similar to the structure of our hemoglobin, meaning that lots of green leafy salads and juices nourish our blood and the cells of our body.
Men should aim for around 320 mg of magnesium per day, whereas women should aim for 230 mg/day.
The best natural sources of magnesium include (per 100 grams):
Sea Vegetables (nori, wakame, dulse) = 770 mg
Raw Cacao = 550 mg
Raw Pumpkin Seeds = 535 mg
Cilantro/Corriander = 694 mg
Almonds = 268 mg
Bananas = 27 mg
Okra = 57 mg
Swiss Chard = 81 mg
Spinach (or any dark leafy greens) = 79 mg
Hazelnuts = 163 mg
Beet Greens = 98 mg
Dates = 77 mg
Figs = 68 mg
Avocados = 29 mg