What is Magnesium?

So just what is magnesium? It is an element that is essential in biological systems.

It is included in the list of vital mineral nutrients that are necessary to sustain life, and is present in every cell type in every organism.

The biological role of magnesium in the body

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the main source of energy in cells, needs to be bounded to a magnesium ion so that it can be biologically active. It also plays a vital role in all polyphosphate compounds stability in the cells, including those that are associated with the synthesis of DNA and RNA.

This metal is vitally important for the health of every living organism as it is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It is actually the fourth most required mineral in the body that is essential in having a good health.

The bones alone are roughly composed of 50% total body magnesium and the remaining 50% is predominantly found in the cells of different organs and body tissues. One percent of magnesium can be found in the blood and the human body strives to have a constant blood levels of the mineral.

This mineral is also necessary in keeping nerve and muscle functioning normal and heart beat rhythmic. Aside from keeping the bones strong, other magnesium benefits include supporting a healthy immune system. It also helps in regulating blood sugar levels which promotes normal blood pressure and supports protein synthesis and energy metabolism.

The mineral has a positive effect on treatment of certain disorders such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Dietary magnesium is absorbed in the small intestine and is excreted through the kidneys.

Magnesium Rich Foods

Whole grains, sea vegetables and green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, are some of the major natural sources of magnesium. Other vegetables can also be considered as rich in magnesium sources include beet greens, lima beans, broad beans, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, artichoke, pumpkin seeds, buckwheat flour, wheat flour, peanuts, barley, oat bran, chocolate and cornmeal.

Other magnesium rich foods include dairy products like cheese, milk and yogurts. Other non-vegetarian goods such as fish, also contain certain amounts of the mineral. Vegetables that are magnesium rich include spinach and Black beans. Whole wheat bread that contains germ and bran are proven to have twice the magnesium content of white bread. Go here for a comprehensive magnesium rich foods list.

Spinach magnesium
Spinach is a rich source of magnesium

Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms

Some of the magnesium deficiency symptoms include fatigue, pain in neck and back, migraine attacks, anxiety, loss of appetite, muscle weakness and spasm, insomnia, nausea, abnormal heart rhythms, muscle twitching and diarrhea.

One tends to use up much of the bodily magnesium when under stress. Chocolate cravings are one of the most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency, as chocolate is highly rich in the mineral. Deficiency of magnesium are related to depression, diabetes and menopausal problems.

Benefits of Magnesium

There are numerous health benefits of magnesium that include maintaining bodily nerves, bones and muscles. It also aids in cellular metabolism and protein synthesis. Magnesium is a vital mineral essential in sustaining the normal heart beat, which is why doctors use this in treating irregular heart rhythm.

Magnesium also prevents certain diseases from occurring such as eclamptic seizures, asthma, diabetes, osteoporosis, constipation, psychiatric disorders and back pain. It also plays a major role in helping the human body absorb calcium for the formation and strengthening of bones and teeth.

Magnesium is related directly to the bone density. Insufficient amount of this mineral can lead to osteoporosis. It is also involved in aiding the regulation of calcium levels in the body along with copper, vitamin D, zinc, etc.

Along with calcium and vitamin D, magnesium should be taken throughout the growing up years and into adulthood, due to the fact that it helps in eliminating the possibilities of developing osteoporosis in later years.

Benefits of Magnesium Supplements

One of the benefits of magnesium supplements is related to that of Chronic asthma  patients; they may be able to normalize their breathing by taking in magnesium supplements as the mineral can help in relaxing bronchial muscles whilst normalizing one’s breathing. Breathlessness and wheezing can also be relieved through administration of intravenous magnesium.

Correct intake of magnesium supplements during pregnancy is vitally important as it can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and increases the level of pain tolerance;  thus aiding in a smooth delivery process as well as in the optimization of blood pressure. Expectant mothers who have hypertension are often treated with magnesium sulfate to help prevent eclamptic seizures.

References and Recommended Reading

Spinach photograph by Natalie MaynorOffice of Dietary Supplements; Linus Pauling; Magnesium Online LibraryWikipedia; MedlinePlus.