Magnesium is well-known for the role it plays in the structure and function of nerves and muscle tissue. And it’s absolutely essential for nearly every chemical reaction that takes place in the body.
Why do we need magnesium?
Magnesium is especially helpful for helping you meet physical demands. For example, when you put your body through the demands of a rigorous workout or a physically demanding job—such as construction crews that work in extreme temperatures or first-responders—magnesium is in demand by the body and rapidly depleted.
This is why it’s so important for people who compete at a high level or have demanding jobs to get enough magnesium, either through their diet or with a supplement.
What is magnesium?
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body. But that’s not the only place you’ll find it; magnesium is also found in the earth, sea, plants, and animals. About 60% of the magnesium in your body can be found in your bones, while the rest can be found in muscles, soft tissues and fluids, including your blood.
Every cell in your body has magnesium and needs it to function—but unfortunately, studies show that about 50% of people in the US and Europe get less than the recommended daily amount of magnesium. That’s a problem, as magnesium is a “helper molecule” involved in over 600 processes in the body.
What does magnesium do?
So what exactly does magnesium do for our body anyhow? Of the many things that magnesium does in the body, here are a few of the more significant jobs for health and recovery.
Magnesium . . .
- helps blood vessels dilate, which maintains lower blood pressure and makes it easier for the heart to pump blood.
- supports the circadian rhythm and stress-response systems in the body. When these systems function properly you get better quality of sleep, which supports immunity and lowers stress.
- facilitates the movement of the bowels.
- relaxes muscles and can help reduce soreness and cramps.
Basically, we need magnesium to keep our hearts beating, our bodies rested, our bowels moving, and our muscles working. It’s pretty important!
How do I get magnesium more in my diet?
Food sources of magnesium include leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish, fruits and whole grains. Because of the reduced quality of soil in which food is grown, there has been a decline in the magnesium content of food in recent years. A supplement can help ensure you are getting enough magnesium.
There are various types of magnesium supplements (pill, powder, liquid) and various forms (e.g., citrate, glycinate), each with different therapeutic benefits. A physician can help you identify which form of magnesium is best, based on your current diet, health concerns, and lifestyle demands.