The Role of Magnesium in the Body
Approximately fifty percent of the body’s stores of magnesium are found in the bones. The rest of it is in the various cells and in the blood. Magnesium maintains more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body as it helps to maintain these functions:
- Normal muscle and nerve function
- Steady heart rhythm
- Healthy immune system
- Strong bones
- Normal blood sugar levels
- Normal blood pressure
- Normal energy metabolism
- Normal protein synthesis
In addition, there is a growing interest in the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Magnesium that is obtained from one’s daily diet is absorbed through the small intestines and is excreted via the kidneys.
Sources of Magnesium
Along with other vitamins and minerals, magnesium is found in many foods such as vegetables (particularly green, leafy vegetables like spinach), some legumes (beans and peas), nuts and seeds, and whole, unrefined grains, including bread made from whole grain wheat flour, oatmeal and bran flakes. Tap water (hard water) can also be rich in magnesium but the amount varies according to the water supply.
Normal daily recommended intake in milligrams (mg) for magnesium are generally defined as follows:
- Infants (Birth to 3 years) – 40 to 80mg
- Children (4 to 6 years) – 120mg
- Children (7 to 10 years) – 170mg
- Adolescent and adult males – 270 to 400mg
- Adolescent and adult females – 280 to 300mg
- Pregnant females – 320mg
- Breastfeeding females – 340 to 355mg
Who Needs Magnesium Supplements?
A good healthy diet should be sufficient to meet one’s needs for chelated magnesium, as well as other vitamins and minerals. However, a diet high in fat may cause less magnesium to be absorbed and cooking may decrease the magnesium content of food. Furthermore, with a busy lifestyle, people tend to eat less healthy food that does not ensure the proper amount of nutrients in their diet.
Some conditions that may also necessitate a supplemental intake of magnesium include:
- Gastrointestinal disorders that decrease the absorption of Magnesium, such as Crohn’s disease, chronic and excessive diarrhea and vomiting.
- The intake of some medicines that may result in magnesium deficiency, including certain diuretics, antibiotics, and medications used to treat cancer.
- Poorly-controlled diabetes
- Chronic alcoholism
- Older adults with poor dietary intake
Aside from low blood levels of magnesium (hypomagnesemia), magnesium is also used as a laxative for constipation and as an antacid for acid indigestion. It has also been used for treating attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, leg cramps during pregnancy, migraines, weak bones, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), altitude sickness, urinary incontinence, restless leg syndrome, asthma, hay fever, multiple sclerosis, and for preventing hearing loss.
Taking Oral Magnesium Supplements
If the amount of dietary magnesium is not enough to improve low levels to meet the demands to the body, a supplement could be considered. Oral supplements combine magnesium with another substance such as a salt, to form magnesium oxide, magnesium sulfate, magnesium chloride, magnesium citrate and magnesium carbonate. Some companies also combine magnesium with calcium in different proportions.
These nutritional supplements may be available in different preparations like tablets, magnesium bisglycinate capsules, powder for suspension, packets and syrup form. Tablets and capsules must be swallowed whole, unless otherwise directed. Powder forms are mixed with water or juice in a glass and stirred. This form is especially well accepted by kids, but also popular with adults.