That makes it one of the most important minerals for the maintaining of the health and normal condition of our body.
Magnesium is important for the chemical reactions associated with the nucleic acid (groundwork for DNA and RNA) and is involved as a cofactor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions.
Magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle cramps, muscle cramps and fatigue in active athletes. Additional admission of magnesium may improve these conditions and could have great potential in sports supplementation
Most of the human studies confirm the benefits of magnesium in the treatment of high blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity. Magnesium supplementation of adults, who indicate strong deficit, significantly improves blood glucose at doses of 900 mg daily.
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What Is Magnesium
Our body needs a wide range of vitamins and minerals in order to function properly as an aggregate of systems and processes. Some of these vitamins act as coenzymes, which mean that they participate in the transfer of chemicals between enzymes.
Minerals are also involved in the enzymatic processes, but in contrast to vitamins, they are cofactors that bind to enzymes and act as catalysts for the acceleration of the chemical reactions.
Magnesium is one of the most important cofactors in the human body, along with zinc and manganese. Magnesium is the mineral that is believed to be involved in most enzymatic reactions.
That makes it one of the most important minerals for the maintaining of the health and normal condition of our body. Magnesium is the second most commonly deficient vitamin after vitamin D.
The main reason for the deficiency of magnesium is food. The main sources of magnesium are seeds, nuts, and vegetables and they are commonly used in insufficient quantities.
Another cause of the deficiency is the overeating of refined foods with insufficient amounts of vitamin D. That is the reason for the lack of magnesium.
The groups of individuals that are most affected by this deficiency are elderly people and people with metabolic syndrome or diabetes type II. The symptoms of magnesium deficiency are constant fatigue, hypertension, and insulin resistance.
How Does Magnesium Work
Magnesium is a chemical element and an alkaline earth metal; it is one of the most common ones in the Earth's mass, and in the universe, as a whole.
Magnesium has a significant biological role and is an essential mineral for life because it is contained in almost every cell and is actively involved in the production of adenosine triphosphate - the basic unit of energy for cells.
One of the most valuable properties of magnesium is the ability of its ions to interact with the phosphate groups.
Magnesium is important for the chemical reactions associated with the nucleic acid (groundwork for DNA and RNA) and is involved as a cofactor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions.
It is needed for all enzymes, related to the adenosine triphosphate synthesis, and the enzymes which use other nucleotides for the synthesis of DNA and RNA. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is present as a chelate compound with magnesium in the cells.
Magnesium is essential for humans, animals, and plants. In plants, it is necessary for the growth and the formation of chlorophyll.
In animals and plants, it also has multiple properties, namely: the ability to bind with proteins or other molecules, transportation of ions, activation, and mediation between a number of biochemical reactions.
Sources of Magnesium
Magnesium can be found in many foods as almost all of them are planted. Magnesium concentrations in meat are much lower.
Some of the richest sources of magnesium are - cereals (rice, wheat, and oats), seeds (linseed, sesame seeds, tahini, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds), nuts (walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and almonds) and cocoa beans.
Other rich sources are coffee and some herbs and vegetables like coriander, spinach, spearmint, basil, sorrel, purslane, and borage. A major problem in plants is that when they undergo some heat treatment, they lose much of their useful substances.
So, with the process of the refining of seeds or cereal products, they lose almost all of the magnesium content. A similar effect occurs with the thermal treatment of cocoa- the magnesium content decreases.
It has been found that the typical urban diet of the modern American and European people does not procure the minimum amount of magnesium needed in the body.
Although acute health problems are rare in magnesium deficiency, the quantities, procured by food, are too low and in the long-term, they are considered to cause negative consequences.
The first symptoms of magnesium deficiency are the drop in the immune system, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness.
If the body is in a deficient state for a longer period of time, this can affect muscle cramps, numbness, tingling, changes in mood and behavior, and changes in heart rate.
In the long term, constant magnesium deficiency can cause heart disease and low levels of potassium and calcium in the blood. The reasons that lead to a common magnesium deficiency are many.
The first one is the diet of the average Western person that rarely includes foods rich in magnesium. An important factor is the sensitivity of the magnesium to refining and heat treatment. They can dramatically reduce the levels of minerals in plants.
Some researchers have noted that the use of fertilizers and insecticides leads to a reduction of magnesium in plant crops and to a change of the concentration in the soil.
The reason for a magnesium deficiency can also be specific diseases, particularly those of the gastrointestinal tract such as Crohn's disease. Frequent diarrhea and vomiting may also affect the absorption of magnesium.
Individuals, suffering from kidney problems and diabetes, have a higher need for magnesium intake due to the increased disposal of minerals in the urine.
Individuals, who are taking large amounts of alcohol or have low levels of calcium and potassium in the blood, may also have a magnesium deficiency. Some medications reduce or decrease the absorption of magnesium as well.
Such drugs are diuretics, antibiotics (gentamicin or amphotericin) or medicaments for treating cancer - antineoplastics.
Practical researches indicate that elderly people are at greater risk of magnesium deficiency due to a combination of factors, such as increased discharge in urine, difficult absorption and regular use of medication.
Forms of Magnesium
Magnesium is absorbed into the body through the small intestines. Various sources say that between 30% and 67% of the magnesium gets absorbed completely.
Absorption of magnesium as a food supplement depends largely on the substance with which it is connected. Magnesium can be conjoint to metals or other inorganic substances. Such forms are magnesium oxide and carbonate.
Magnesium can be conjoint with organic substances which can be salts or amino acids.
These forms are known as chelated forms of magnesium. The chelated forms of magnesium are - magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, magnesium glycine, magnesium taurine, magnesium orotate, and magnesium aspartate.
Chelate forms indicate higher absorption and bioactivity. Many studies have compared the absorption and potency of different magnesium forms.
One study has found that the absorption of the magnesium oxide in the gastrointestinal tract is extremely low (4%). The results of magnesium lactate, magnesium chloride, and magnesium aspartate are much better.
Another study compared the properties of magnesium glycinate and magnesium oxide, as glycinate notes better absorption and an increase in plasma levels due to the use of dipeptides for transportation.
Scientists compare also the effectiveness of completely different groups of magnesium compounds in an artificially induced loss of the mineral. The two groups are different types of magnesium salts (pidolate, lactate, gluconate, chloride) and magnesium taurine.
It is noted that magnesium taurine is the only form that manages to prevent the complete loss of magnesium. The only study, that compares absorption of the most popular forms, was conducted in France.
It compared these types of magnesium: oxide, sulfate, carbonate, chloride, citrate, lactate, aspartate, acetate, and gluconate pidolate. Organic salts indicate better absorption in the gastrointestinal tract, but also in high levels of magnesium cast in the urine.
Organic salts indicate a longer retention period of the magnesium in the body. Researchers concluded that the most potent forms of magnesium are: lactate, gluconate, citrate, aspartate, and, as magnesium gluconate has demonstrated the best results.
The differences in the magnesium forms are not only the absorption capacities but also the use of other metabolic pathways or the occurrence of undesirable effects. For example, magnesium citrate may cause discomfort in the stomach or diarrhea.
The magnesium compounds with taurine and glycine can be used successfully as transport pathways of amino acids and by this can be absorbed more efficiently.
Finally, the specific form of magnesium may indicate more health benefits in certain directions. Magnesium taurine has this potential. It can maintain heart health.
Potential and Proven Benefits:
- Magnesium has a potential effect on lowering blood pressure. It has been found that vegetables and fruits, which have higher concentrations of magnesium, potassium, and calcium, and low sodium, can benefit the lowering of blood pressure. Studies on people indicate the magnesium’s ability to lower blood pressure as the effect is directly related to the balance of the potassium, sodium, and calcium;
- The quantities of magnesium are related to type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. It is assumed that low magnesium levels can accelerate the onset of insulin resistance. On the other hand, diabetes and insulin resistance contribute to magnesium deficiency in the body. The sharp increase of blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can cause kidneys to lose their ability to retain magnesium and dispose of it through the urine.
Most of the human studies confirm the benefits of magnesium in the treatment of high blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity.
Magnesium supplementation of adults, who indicate strong deficit, significantly improves blood glucose at doses of 900 mg daily.
Long-term intake of 300 mg of magnesium daily in patients with low plasma magnesium levels decreases hemoglobin HbA1s, which is seen as the main sign of diabetes.
Another study has reached negative results, showing that an intake of 300 mg and 600 mg of magnesium from magnesium oxide does not improve the levels of blood sugar in any way.
As a whole, many of the tests concluded that magnesium deficiency can lead to insulin resistance and the onset of type 2 diabetes, as magnesium supplementation would have potential benefits in patients with magnesium deficiency:
- Magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle cramps, muscle cramps and fatigue in active athletes. Additional admission of magnesium may improve these conditions and could have great potential in sports supplementation.
- Medical practice and researches associate osteoporosis with magnesium deficiency, due to the involvement of magnesium in calcium metabolism and the negative impact on the level of calcium in magnesium deficiency. Studies on humans and animals prove that magnesium deficiency has a connection with lower bone density and mineral content in the bones. In studies on elderly and postmenopausal women, the additional intake of magnesium shows increased concentrations of mineral and bone density, as well as reduction of fractures;
- Magnesium deficiency is directly linked to the increased risk of heart disease. Several scientific observations have confirmed that high magnesium levels reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, heart infarction, and spasms. Magnesium affects heart disease because of its effect on blood pressure and heart rate. Studies have confirmed that long-term intake of magnesium citrate and oxide reduces chest pain due to physical activity in patients with coronary artery disease. Magnesium orotate even reduces the risk of death in heart failure cases and improves the quality of life of patients. Magnesium also increases the antiplatelet effect of acetylsalicylic acid and has a potential synergistic effect with taurine;
- Intake of magnesium facilitates falling asleep and improves the quality of sleep. Magnesium is proven to have a synergistic effect with zinc and melatonin;
- Acute magnesium deficiency is associated with negative effects on the nervous system. Some people may suffer from conditions like depression, anxiety and rapid change in mood that may occur. Magnesium has also a calming effect on the nervous system; its potential properties are associated with relaxation, reduction of aggression and outbursts, sleep quality, impact on the brain and memory processes;
- Low levels of magnesium are associated with an increase in the C-reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation in the body. Magnesium supplementation has potential anti-inflammatory properties;
- Magnesium indicates potential benefits in sports supplementation. A survey has found that magnesium lowers cortisol and regulates heart rate after exercise. High doses of magnesium are associated with the regulation of sex hormones, increasing testosterone levels and improving athletic performance. Clear and reliable results in this area are lacking up to these moments.
The recommended doses of magnesium are safe and without any health risks. In short terms, the enlarged doses of magnesium intake do not produce significant health risks.
In both cases, people may experience side effects such as diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, and cramps in the abdominal muscles. More serious risk can be found in the long-term use of high doses of magnesium.
They can lead to kidney problems because of the inability of kidneys to remove the excess amounts of the mineral. There are several examples of magnesium toxicity in the medical practice and some of them are associated with excessive intake of laxatives, rich in magnesium.
In most cases, patients had a normal renal function. For reaching magnesium toxicity, a dose of 2000 mg of magnesium daily or more is needed.
Health risks include signs of vomiting, muscle weakness, abnormal heart rhythm, abnormal reflexes tendons, moodiness, loss of appetite, difficulty in breathing and high blood pressure. Much of the side effects of magnesium intoxication are the same as magnesium deficiency.
Depending on the age of the individual, the US Institute of Medicine recommends the following doses:
- Children 1 to 3 years - 65 mg daily;
- Children from 4 to 8 year - 110 mg daily;
- Children from 9 to 18 years - 350 mg daily;
- Adults aged 19+ years - 350 mg daily.
Many health experts recommend 400 mg daily intake of magnesium for men and women. Typically, these dosages relate to the normal active individual who consumes an average of 2000 kcal per day.
For sports, increased physical activity, and other health conditions, the recommended doses are higher. Some coaches and sports doctors recommend taking 800 mg to 1,600 mg daily.
This would have benefits at extremely high stress and daily exercises. In all cases, similar dosage amounts must be accepted for specific purposes and should be continued for long periods of time (2-3 months).
Medical consultation and information on the current health status are recommended prior to doses of 1000+ mg daily. The chelated (organic) compounds of this mineral are recommended.
They get better absorbed and are more bioactive. Magnesium citrate is the most appropriate form for daily prophylactic use. Magnesium aspartate is suitable for intake before bedtime, and magnesium glycinate is the best form for deficiency treatment.
Magnesium can be separated into equal doses during the day or can be taken before bedtime. The intake of food is recommended.
How to Combine Magnesium
Magnesium can be successfully combined with other minerals.
One of the most popular combinations is magnesium and zinc, as together they have synergistic properties like the impact on sex hormones, insulin sensitivity, sleep, enzyme metabolism, and others.
When magnesium is taken to maintain the nervous system and to regulate stress, its combination with vitamin B complex, which also supports the nervous system and is used successfully against stress, is recommended.
The function of B6 vitamin, which is directly involved in the usage of magnesium in the body, is extremely special. Magnesium can also be combined with taurine.
There are several studies that demonstrate the benefits of concomitant intake of taurine and magnesium for the protection of the heart from heart disease.
They contribute to the health of the blood vessels. Both supplements have potential benefits in improving insulin sensitivity and suppression of depression.
Last but not least, magnesium plays an important role in adenosine triphosphate production, and can, therefore; be combined with other promoters of ATP, as creatine monohydrate and citrulline malate.
Thus, it could be potentially useful in the improvement of physical performance.
Where Can We Find Magnesium
Magnesium is a widely spread product in pharmacies, supermarkets and specialized stores for food additives. Magnesium is included as a separate product in many healthy food supplements brands.
Most of the time, it can be seen in the form of tablets. Some of its compounds (magnesium glycinate) are in the form of liquid coated tablets. Magnesium can be found in the form of pure powder rarely. This variant is economical, but its taste is extremely sour.
The most common forms of magnesium s are - magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, magnesium orotate, magnesium glycinate, and others.
Although it is one of the most potent versions, magnesium aspartate is seldom found alone and is often part of blends with other kinds of magnesium, or complex products like ZMA.
Magnesium is one of the preferred minerals in the most diverse complex formulas. The combination of zinc and magnesium is one of the most popular and is included in the patented formula ZMA.
Zinc and magnesium are combined in formulas for sleep improving or testosterone increasing. Magnesium is added to almost all multivitamin products, some stress or heart formulas and less frequently in sports formulas-often in combination with taurine and creatine.