Magnesium is a co-factor for more than 300 enzymatic reactions throughout the body, some of its important functions in the body include:
– Production of energy from carbohydrates and fat
– Generation and repair of DNA and RNA
– Contraction and relaxation of muscles
– Production and regulation of neurotransmitters, the brains chemical messengers associated with mood
Magnesium is associated with some of the following health benefits.
1. Migraine headaches
In patients with non aura migraine, prophylactic magnesium supplementation over a 3 month period, significantly reduced migraine attack frequency and severity compared with placebo.
Magnesium was also found to be more effective and fast-acting when compared to a commonly used combination of dexamethasone/metoclopramide for the treatment of acute migraine headaches.
Low dietary magnesium intake has been associated increased risk of depression, especially in younger adults. While supplementation was found to be effective in the treatment of depressed elderly type 2 diabetics with low magnesium levels.
3. Type 2 diabetes
Epidemiological studies suggest that higher dietary intakes of magnesium are associated with a lower risk of incidence of type 2 diabetes. It appears to be especially helpful in offsetting the risk of developing diabetes in high risk populations; such as those with insulin resistance, low-grade inflammation or heavy drinkers.
Data suggests that for every 100 mg daily increase in dietary magnesium, the risk of type 2 diabetes decreases by about 15%.
4. Premenstrual syndrome
Research has shown that adequate magnesium intake, particularly when combined with vitamin B6, may help relieve PMS symptoms including; anxiety, irritability, breast pain, insomnia, bloating and depression.
5. Improved sleep
In older adults, supplementing with magnesium daily resulted in an overall improvement in sleep including; increased sleep time and efficiency, sleep onset and melatonin levels. It also reduced early morning awakening and serum cortisol concentrations.
6. Cardiovascular health
In the Framington Heart Study, the incidence of coronary artery calcification was 58% lower in people who had the highest intakes of magnesium.
Studies have also shown that magnesium supplementation can lower blood pressure.
How much magnesium do I need?
Australian Dietary Guidelines provide the following dietary recommended intake (RDI):
- Men aged 19-30: 400 mg/day, increasing to 420 mg/day after age 31
- Women aged 19-30: 310 mg/day, increasing to 320 mg after age 31
- Pregnant women: 350-360 mg/day, depending on age.
Magnesium is widely available in many common foods, for a list of foods see my article here.
Magnesium supplements are generally well tolerated. They can however interact with certain medications, in particular some antibiotics, diuretics and heart medications. If you take these types of medications check with your doctor or health care practitioner before supplementing with magnesium.