Magnesium - What This Amazing Mineral Can Do

Heart, Minerals, Stress, exercise | July 29, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

heart, work stress, minerals, exercise

Magnesium - What This Amazing Mineral Can Do

Magnesium is a major mineral, an electrolyte, and a co-factor in over 350 enzymatic reactions throughout the body. It is the king of energy, mood and muscle – here's what it can do for you:

Magnesium for Exercise Performance & Recovery

  • Improved performance
  • Quicker recovery
  • Lasting energy

Magnesium is involved in energy production and in the delivery of glucose from the blood into various tissues – including skeletal muscles. The brain also requires large amounts of glucose and cellular energy during exercise to co-ordinate all the physiological demands on the moving body, and magnesium can help get it there. Studies have shown that higher levels of magnesium in the blood can boost the delivery of glucose to the muscles and the brain to improve strength, grip, flexion, heart rate regulation, speed and energy utilisation. [1] [2]

Magnesium for Exercise Performance & RecoveryAfter workouts, magnesium can help to metabolise lactate – the substance that accumulates in muscles during exercise and causes soreness and stiffness the day-after. Epsom salt baths are a go-to for sore muscles after a big training session. These salts are made of magnesium sulfate – in this form, magnesium easily penetrates through the skin and is delivered straight to the muscles where it can metabolise lactate and soothe the nerves. [1] Another new option is magnesium oil, made of magnesium chloride that can be massaged directly into the skin.

Taken orally, magnesium can also help to maintain blood glucose levels after exercise. Normally, there is a “slump” in blood sugar after working out which can leave you feeling fatigued and may even contribute to muscle tissue damage. Magnesium can delay this drop and give you a longer post-training energy boost. [3]

Magnesium for Cardiovascular Health

  • Heart function
  • Regulated blood pressure
  • Protection against cardiovascular diseases

As a co-factor in energy production, magnesium is required to power the muscles of the heart. This essential mineral is also used in regulating cardiac pump function, controlling the relaxation of blood vessels, and protecting the cardiovascular system against stress [9].  A deficiency in magnesium significantly increases the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, arrhythmia, and death from heart disease [4].

Magnesium for Cardiovascular HealthA 2018 meta-analysis of epidemiological studies found that high magnesium intake is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and a reduced risk of major cardiovascular risk factors (e.g. metabolic syndrome, diabetes and high blood pressure). [8] An early review of cohort studies also found an association between high magnesium intake and a decreased risk of stroke, heart failure and diabetes. [5]

Magnesium for Quick Thinking

  • New neural connections
  • Stronger brain structures
  • Better memory and faster recall

Magnesium supplies the brain with glucose, maintains brain plasticity to allow for new neural pathways, and boosts communication between brain cells. Remember that magnesium is an electrolyte – it carries an electrical charge or “information” between cells in the nervous system. It also strengthens the actual structures of the brain.

Magnesium can strengthen and improve the function of the synapses found in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, areas of long-term memory and short-term memory, respectively [6]. Poor memory recall may be one of the first signs of a mild magnesium deficiency, and supplementation may help to strengthen these areas and boost learning and memory outcomes [7] [10].

A 2007 study showed that magnesium could even improve cognitive recovery after brain injury! [11] It may also help to protect cognitive function in Alzheimer's, depression, migraines, anxiety and insomnia [4] [7][12].

Magnesium for Relaxation & Stress Recovery

  • Relaxed nervous system
  • Healthy stress response
  • Less muscle tensions

Magnesium for Relaxation & Stress RecoveryMagnesium is known as the “relaxation mineral”.

It works with the HPA axis, a pathway that controls the body's stress response. When we enter states of safety, magnesium tells the axis to stop signalling so that we can return to a relaxed state.

 But during a magnesium deficiency, the HPA axis goes wild – it fires erratically and stimulates the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol at inappropriate times, resulting in a racing heart rate, sweating, paranoid thoughts, restlessness, migraines, insomnia, or just a general sense of stress.

A 2012 study showed that an underlying magnesium deficiency and the associated HPA dysregulation may be a cause of anxiety and chronic stress disorders [13]. Restoring magnesium levels can help to soothe the nervous system, even during times of stress and trauma.

Magnesium also relaxes the skeletal muscles. Cramps and twitches are signs of a magnesium deficiency and increasing your intake of this mineral can help to release muscular tension and stiff tendons. [4]

Here's the worst part – magnesium is quickly depleted during times of stress! Even more reason to boost your levels ASAP.

Magnesium for Bone Health

  • Stronger bones
  • Lower risk of osteoporosis and fractures

Over 60% of the body's magnesium is concentrated in the bones. Like calcium, magnesium is incorporated into structures that give the bones their strength, stability, and proper form. Magnesium is essential for the absorption and metabolism of calcium, the key mineral in bone tissue.

Magnesium for Bone HealthIn fact, the physiology of maintaining bone health is like a constant dance between calcium, vitamin D and magnesium. Magnesium is required for the release of parathyroid hormone, which activates vitamin D and improves calcium absorption.

It stimulates the thyroid's production of calcitonin – a hormone that prevents calcium release from bone – and is also a co-factor for the enzyme alkaline phosphate which creates new calcium crystals to form bone tissue.

Low levels of magnesium result in malformed bone crystals, and eventually lead to a risk of osteoporosis.

Getting enough magnesium in the diet can protect against bone mineral breakdown. The bones act as a reservoir of magnesium and will release the mineral in the blood when levels are low. This is great for the rest of the body that requires magnesium, but releasing magnesium weakening the bones and boosts the risk of osteoporosis.

The Women's Health Initiative Observational Study of over 73,000 postmenopausal women found that lower magnesium intake was associated with a lower bone mineral density of the hip, and the whole body [14]. A 2017 cross-sectional study of over 156,000 men and women suggested that magnesium supplementation can protect against osteoporosis, fractures and other bone issues [15].

Food Sources of Magnesium 

The best sources of magnesium are leafy green vegetables, pulses (lentils, soybeans, chickpeas), nuts, seeds, whole grains and potatoes. Otherwise you can supplement with magnesium in tablet or powder form which can be added to food or try a magnesium bath.
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[1] Zhang, Y., et al. (2017) Can Magnesium Enhance Exercise Performance? Nutrients., 9:9, 946.  

[2] Kass, L. S., et al. (2015) The effect of acute vs chronic magnesium supplementation on exercise and recovery on resistance exercise, blood pressure and total peripheral resistance on normotensive adults. J Int Soc Sports Nutr., 12, 19.

[3] Chen, H. Y., et al. (2014) Magnesium enhances exercise performance via increasing glucose availability in the blood, muscle, and brain during exercise. PLoS ONE., 9:1, e85486.

[4] Gröber, U. (2015) Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients., 7:9, 8199 – 8226.

[5] Fang, X., et al. (2016) Dietary magnesium intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality: a dose–response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.

[6] Abumaria, N. (2011) Effects of elevation of brain magnesium on fear conditioning, fear extinction, and synaptic plasticity in the infralimbic prefrontal cortex and lateral amygdala. J Neurosci., 31:42.

[7] Boyle, N. B., et al. (2017) The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. Nutrients., 9:5, 429.

[8] Rosique-Esteban, N., et al. (2018) Dietary Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review with Emphasis in Epidemiological Studies. Nutrients., 10:2, 168.

[9] Efstratiadis, G., et al. (2006) Hypomagnesemia and cardiovascular system. Hippokratia, 10:4, 147 – 152.

[10] Slutsky, I., et al. (2010) Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium. Neuron, 65:2, 165 – 177.

[11] Hoane, M. R. (2007) Assessment of cognitive function following magnesium therapy in the traumatically injured brain. Magnes Res., 20:4, 229 – 236.

[12] Xu, Z. P., et al. (2014) Magnesium Protects Cognitive Functions and Synaptic Plasticity in Streptozotocin-Induced Sporadic Alzheimer’s Model. PLoS ONE, 9:9.

[13] Sartori, S. B., et al. (2012) Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: Modulation by therapeutic drug treatment. Neuropharmacol., 62:1, 304 – 312. 

[14] Orchard, T. S., et al. (2014) Magnesium intake, bone mineral density, and fractures: results from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. Am J Clin Nutr., 99:4, 926 – 933.

[15] Welch, A. A., et al. (2017) Dietary Magnesium May Be Protective for Aging of Bone and Skeletal Muscle in Middle and Younger Older Age Men and Women: Cross-Sectional Findings from the UK Biobank Cohort. Nutrients., 9, 1189.

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