Why we need vitamins and minerals – a focus on Magnesium
Vitamins and minerals are important for our overall health and it’s important to consume a full range, in the adequate amounts, so that our bodies function optimally.
One of the minerals that is sometimes taken for granted is magnesium. Magnesium is prominent in the earth’s crust, so it’s not surprising that it’s incorporated into the metabolic processes of all living things.1 Magnesium regulates hundreds of enzyme systems and studies have shown that magnesium deficiency can commonly be seen in people experiencing critical illnesses.2
How much magnesium do you need?
The NHS guidelines suggest that men need 300 mg a day while women should be getting 270 mg a day.3 Good sources of magnesium include spinach, pumpkin seeds, nuts and wholegrain bread, dark chocolate, oily fish and avocado, or you can take a high-quality supplement to ensure you are getting enough.
What are the health benefits of magnesium?
Magnesium gives us energy by helping to convert food into energy. It also helps with the contraction and relaxation of muscles, the formation of protein from amino acids and it sends messages throughout your brain and nervous system to help regulate neurotransmitters.
Magnesium may boost exercise performance
Magnesium helps move the blood sugar within your muscles and assists with getting rid of lactic acid, which can cause soreness and fatigue when it builds during exercise. Studies have shown that you may need as much as 10%-20% more magnesium during exercise than you do when you are resting, depending on the intensity of the exercise.4
Magnesium may be able to help you sleep better
Studies have shown that those unable to sleep might benefit by consuming more magnesium, as the mineral may influence some of the processes that promote sleep.5 Specifically, magnesium deficiency has been linked to troubled sleep and in some cases, even insomnia.6 Furthermore, magnesium can help to regulate the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for keeping your sleep-wake cycle in sync.
Magnesium can help you relax
Magnesium has been shown to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the system your body uses to calm and relax you.7 It also binds to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. GABA is the neurotransmitter responsible for quieting down nerve activity.
With all the health benefits of magnesium, it’s a mineral well worth ensuring you are getting enough of. Try to remember to eat plenty of magnesium-rich whole foods, like nuts, seeds and grains to support your magnesium needs and your body’s overall health. If you don’t like these foods, consider taking a good quality supplement.
- https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.me.32.020181.001333?journalCode=med [↩]
- https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0885066604271539 [↩]
- https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others/ [↩]
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17172008/ [↩]
- https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1012790321071 [↩]
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23969766/ [↩]
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27933574/ [↩]