When it comes to making sure you’re following a balanced diet, there’s often discussion about consuming adequate carbs, protein, and fats. Of course, the macronutrients are all key to our health, but it’s important to not forget about the micronutrients – like vitamins and minerals.
Perhaps one of the most important micronutrients is magnesium. This article will explain why we need magnesium and how to make sure you’re getting enough in your diet.
Why is Magnesium Important?
Magnesium is a key micronutrient and it is essential to many life functions.
It plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels, improving exercise performance, and it ensures proper brain function.
In fact, every cell in your body contains magnesium and needs it to function. Magnesium is also abundantly found in bones, muscles, and tissues throughout the body (1).
Some people think of magnesium as the helper nutrient, meaning it’s an important assistant in many necessary body processes. For example, magnesium helps to convert food to energy, it helps create new proteins and helps to create and repair DNA.
Magnesium is found in a wide variety of foods such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and beans.
But unfortunately, many people aren’t getting enough magnesium in their daily routine.
What Happens if I Don't Get Enough Magnesium?
If you’re not getting enough magnesium in your diet, there are many symptoms that may arise. Low magnesium status is correlated with reduced exercise performance, impaired mental health, fatigue, headaches, and more.
Without adequate magnesium, you might experience some problems such as poor sleep, low energy, and elevated blood sugar, for example. Some people with low magnesium also complain of frequent headaches.
Studies have also suggested that low magnesium intake is correlated with increased anxiety, irritability, and depression (2).
In more severe cases of magnesium deficiency, people may experience increased cardiovascular risk, migraines, and increased risk for osteoporosis (2).
Magnesium Deficiency in the US
Unfortunately, a large portion of the population is deficient in magnesium, which is a likely contributing factor to the increase in chronic disease and other health problems we’re seeing today.
In fact, studies show that nearly half of adults in the United States are not getting in their daily recommended amount of magnesium (3).
Men and women should be getting about 420 and 320 mg of magnesium on a daily basis, respectively (4).
The fact that most people aren’t meeting these recommendations is concerning as it can contribute to diminished health in the long run. Low magnesium levels over time are associated with an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Plus, as people get older, their ability to absorb magnesium weakens, which means they need to aim to get even more magnesium from their diets.
Luckily, there are many ways to optimize magnesium intake through both dietary and supplemental sources. Continue reading the next section to understand if you are getting enough magnesium, and how to get more in your diet.
Am I Getting Enough Magnesium?
You’re probably wondering by now if you are getting enough magnesium in your diet. Let’s start with understanding what foods contain magnesium.
Some of the best dietary sources of magnesium include spinach, avocados, dark chocolate, nuts and seeds, beans, and whole grains.
For example, 1 cup of cooked spinach contains about 160 mg of magnesium, or about 40% of the recommended daily amount. Also, a 1-ounce serving of dark chocolate contains about 65 mg of magnesium, or about 15% of the recommended daily amount (5).
You’d have to carefully plan your daily intake or eat a lot of dark, leafy greens to regularly consume enough magnesium on a daily basis.
Of course, it’s definitely possible with a carefully planned diet. However, with many people living busy lives and frequently on the go, it can be challenging to meet all of your daily nutrient needs – especially for magnesium.
Fill Your Magnesium Gap
Thankfully, there are many wonderful supplements available to help people bridge the gap between their dietary magnesium intake and their body’s needs.
Our men's and women's multi is a high-quality supplement that contains 25% of the recommended daily amount for magnesium.
Of course, it’s still important to focus on having a balanced, healthy diet, with plenty of magnesium-rich foods like beans, nuts, whole grains, and leafy greens.
However, you can rest assured that you’ll be meeting your body’s magnesium needs for optimal health and performance with a little supplemental boost.
How Can Magnesium Help Me Feel Better
So, if you’re not already convinced that ensuring adequate magnesium can help you feel your best, continue reading this section to gain a better understanding of how exactly magnesium can support your health.
Here’s a list of some of the main benefits of magnesium:
Supports a Good Night’s Sleep
There is a significant amount of research to support magnesium’s role in improving sleep quality.
Having adequate magnesium can help someone fall asleep and stay asleep better than someone who does not get enough magnesium in their diet (6).
But how exactly does magnesium have this power? Interestingly, magnesium is involved in neurotransmitter processes that are integral to the body’s sleep cycles.
May Reduce Headaches
If you’re someone who gets frequent headaches or migraines it might be time to take a closer look at your magnesium intake.
There is research to suggest that people with migraines are more likely to have overall low magnesium status (7).
To help treat a headache and reduce the pain in the moment, try taking a magnesium supplement to help. What’s even better, consider taking a supplement containing magnesium on a regular basis to help prevent the onset of headaches or migraines (8).
Improves Blood Sugar Regulation
Magnesium also can be helpful for those looking to regulate their blood sugar levels. It’s been found that people who consume more magnesium actually have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (9).
Magnesium helps improve blood sugar by enhancing insulin sensitivity, therefore reducing the spike in blood sugar after meals.
The extent to which magnesium reduces and regulates blood sugar largely depends on how much magnesium someone is consuming. It’s important to note that if you’re already getting enough magnesium in your diet, overdoing it with more magnesium does not likely offer an additional benefit.
Supports Stress Reduction
Perhaps one of magnesium’s benefits that we could all benefit from has to do with its ability to support stress reduction. Stress is a normal part of the human experience, and we’re all going to face it throughout life.
However, by simply ensuring adequate magnesium on a daily basis, you could reduce your stress levels in potentially large ways. Research suggests that magnesium glycinate supports those with anxiety and other mental health disorders.
In fact, low levels of magnesium have been associated with an increased risk of depression (10).
Of course, if you are struggling with your mental health it is important to seek help from a professional. However, a healthy diet and adequate magnesium, in particular, may be important to consider.
Boosts Exercise Performance
For anyone looking to enhance their athletic performance, it’s important to not only focus on adequate protein and carbohydrates but also consider micronutrients like magnesium.
Magnesium is integral to muscle contraction and muscle power. Studies show that those with higher magnesium intake often have higher muscle mass and greater strength compared to those who are low in magnesium (11).
Side Effects of Taking Magnesium: Can I Take Too Much?
As with anything, moderation and balance are key. It’s best to stick to the recommended daily intake for men and women. Which, as a reminder, is 420 and 320 mg daily, respectively.
It’s important to not get carried away and adopt the mindset that more is better. In fact, just meeting your body’s needs is all you need to do for optimal health.
Exceeding this amount, especially in supplement form has been associated with some gastrointestinal distress such as nausea, cramping, and diarrhea.
Magnesium is key for so many processes in the body that enable us to function every day. From supporting mental health to improving exercise performance, reducing headaches, helping us sleep better, and more – magnesium’s importance is obvious.
Unfortunately, most people are not actually getting the amount of magnesium they need on a daily basis. We can get magnesium from foods such as leafy greens, beans, whole grains, as well as nuts and seeds.
However, it can be difficult to consume enough of the right foods every day to get enough magnesium, which is why supplements can be quite helpful to fill any gaps in our diet.