As the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, magnesium is involved in many aspects of physical and mental health. Roughly 60 percent of the body’s magnesium is stored in the bones, but there is plenty in the soft tissue, fluids, and organs. In fact, every cell in the human body requires this mineral for good health.1
Magnesium is crucial to the regulation of sodium, potassium, and calcium levels and is an important component in many biochemical processes. For example, glutathione is a powerful antioxidant produced locally, but without magnesium, synthesis of this compound is reduced.
However, despite the importance of magnesium, millions of people today suffer from magnesium deficiency and its consequences. Even worse, many are not aware of the issue.
Because it plays the essential role of “helper molecule” in many enzymatic processes that keep the body healthy, when supplies of magnesium run low, malfunctions arise. Some of the most important biological processes that require plenty of magnesium include:2
- Energy assimilation from foods
- Creation of proteins from amino acids
- Repair and maintenance of DNA and RNA
- Muscle contraction and relaxation
- Regulation of the nervous system and its neural-communications
Drinking coffee, tea, and alcoholic beverages drains the body of its magnesium supplies. Refined sugars and pastry products also contribute to a deficiency that affects almost half the population. Some of the common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:
- Anxiety and stress
- Impulsiveness and hyperactivity
- Difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep
- Muscle spasms and cramping
Because magnesium plays a crucial role in nerve conduction and neuromuscular regulation, deficiencies are most obvious in these neurological symptoms. Advanced conditions may even include personality changes and cognitive impairment.
Magnesium deficiency is the ultimate enemy of fine-tuned mental function. About 75% of the U.S. adult population is not consuming the recommended daily allowance of magnesium.3 With such a large portion of the population suffering this subtle condition, improving the diet or beginning magnesium supplementation are good places to start.
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Additionally, magnesium has been found to have nootropic, or cognitive-enhancing, effects. This is perhaps the primary reason behind rising supplementation with magnesium. Some of the top nootropic benefits of magnesium are outlined below.
Nootropic Effects of Magnesium
Do you feel afraid? Possibly to the point of being terrified by your present outlook? A bit more magnesium in the diet could help. Clinical studies have found that magnesium improves synaptic plasticity, which has the potential to rewire the learned-fear response.
Fears and anxieties from early traumas can become obstacles that hold the mind back from trying new things and creating new ideas. By properly moderating this natural response to the environment, magnesium can greatly improve the quality of cognitive function.3
Other studies have investigated the importance of magnesium in the creation of ATP cellular energy and the activation of RNA and DNA functions. If magnesium is not present, these processes function at half-capacity. At first, a lack of magnesium can lead to low mental stamina and increased distress, but if prolonged, conditions like Alzheimer’s can follow.4
Improved memory capacity is at the core of cutting-edge mental faculty. A sharp memory can greatly is imperative for the accumulation of important data during academic studies.
In the prime of life, the brain is flexible and retentive, allowing for great quantities of information to be stored and processed easily. As time goes by, the brain loses some of its flexibility and absorbent qualities, much like an old sponge that has lost some structural integrity and no longer holds water.
There is a reason to believe that magnesium lies at the heart of keeping the brain youthful and vivacious, without age-related lapses in memory. Neuroscientists from China and the U.S. have concluded that a specific compound, magnesium L-threonate, increases magnesium levels in the brain and can lead to improved working memory.5
Increases Physical Capacity
Of course, a mind in tip-top condition is only half the battle. The rest depends on physical fitness that can support the greater demands on the mind. Once again, magnesium intake can determine the capacity for physical performance by enhancing breathing and energy availability.
Magnesium works to improve energy assimilation from the foods digested and enhances glucose availability. Glucose is a type of sugar used to fuel the brain and body in action. When magnesium levels are high, the individual is capable of far more physical and mental output than otherwise possible.6
Studies have also found that magnesium allows the lungs to increase respiratory capacity, bringing greater supplies of oxygen to the brain and muscle systems, further improving work capacity.7
Migraines can result from unhealthy diets, undue levels of stress, and poor sleeping habits. In the midst of a migraine, mental processes are hampered by moderate to extreme discomfort. The good news is that some of these episodes may be ameliorated through proper dietary intake of magnesium.
Most people rely on a fast-acting analgesic when dealing with ongoing headaches, but this may be a bad idea. Resistance can be built and hyperalgesia, or increased sensitivity to pain, is a common side effect of many over-the-counter medications.
In contrast, magnesium supplementation has almost no adverse side-effects to healthy individuals and is an effective preventative measure. Clinical observation has found that magnesium intake reduced the frequency and severity of migraine headaches.8
Improves Sleep Quality
It is impossible to improve the quality of sleep without subsequently increasing cognitive function, improving the mood, and tapping into unprecedented energy stores. Good sleeping habits keep the brain functioning properly and also contribute to a healthier digestive system. By the same measure, poor sleep quality and insomnia can adversely affect well-being.
However, magnesium supplementation has been clinically studied to improve many aspects of the sleeping cycle, such as the onset of sleep latency and sleep duration by enhancing the activity of the body’s “sleepy time” neurotransmitters.9
If you’re trying to increase magnesium in your diet, some of the best choices include spinach, almonds, brown rice, and potatoes (with skin). Remember to choose unprocessed raw foods which still have most of their quality magnesium content intact.
Another option is magnesium supplements, which have been found to safe for most healthy adults. In these supplements, magnesium is often combined with other ingredients to enhance a specific benefit. Combined with malic acid, it forms an analgesic that can reduce the discomforts of fibromyalgia. Magnesium and calcium is a common supplement used by women to strengthen bones damaged by osteoporosis.
Safety and Precautions
The generally recommended dose is between 350 and 500 mg a day. This amount may vary depending on the conditions you hope to remedy. Remember to avoid exceeding any recommended dosages to escape the few possible side effects. Some of the most common side effects include nausea, cramps, or diarrhea.
If any of these conditions present themselves during supplementation, discontinue use immediately and seek out medical attention. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also consult their medical provider before beginning any supplementation.
Furthermore, the natural mineral found in supplements and injections can have a negative reaction with antibodies and can aggravate conditions of high blood pressure. Those on muscle relaxation therapy should also seek medical advice before beginning magnesium supplementation.10
Magnesium is a mineral required for hundreds of biological processes. Headaches, sleepiness, and mental problems are just a few symptoms of having a magnesium deficiency. Consider adding more magnesium to your diet to help regulate your body’s natural processes.
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