Benefits of Magnesium
If your body could tell you what it wants, here's what it would
say: "I want magnesium." And how does your body love magnesium? Let me
count the ways.
WAY NUMBER ONE: MAGNESIUM MAKES YOUR BRAIN WORK BETTER
A recent laboratory study from the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT) reveals that an adequate amount of magnesium is
necessary to maintain the "plasticity" of synapses - the connectors
that move information from neuron to neuron in the brain. In this case,
plasticity refers to the ability to change. When synapses are flexible
to change, learning and memory are enhanced.
The study hasn't been published yet, so details about the exact
methodology will have to wait. But according to a report released by
the MIT News Office, the researchers believe their results confirm that
cognitive function is stunted when magnesium is deficient, but clearly
improved when magnesium intake is abundant.
Other conditions that have been associated with a magnesium deficiency
include depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder.
WAY NUMBER TWO: MAGNESIUM GIVES YOU ENERGY
Researchers with the USDA Agricultural Research Service recruited 10
postmenopausal women to participate in a three-phase diet and exercise
study. During phase one (35 days), the women followed a controlled diet
that delivered an adequate amount of magnesium. (The current
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for women is 320 mg daily. For men;
420 mg daily.)
In the second phase (93 days), each subject consumed a diet that
contained less than half the RDA for magnesium. In the final phase (49
days) the subjects returned to a diet with adequate magnesium. At the
end of each phase, subjects took exercise tests, as well as
physiological and biochemical tests.
Results showed that when magnesium intake was low, exercise increased
heart rate and required more oxygen compared to exercising when
magnesium intake was adequate. Also, when magnesium levels in muscles
were low, more energy was required and subjects tired more easily
compared to subjects with adequate magnesium levels.
WAY NUMBER THREE: MAGNESIUM STRENGTHENS YOUR BONES
Scientists have already shown that magnesium increases bone density in
postmenopausal women, so researchers at Tel-Aviv University in Israel
used an animal study to test magnesium as an osteoporosis preventive
A group of female rats were divided into two groups to receive either a
diet with adequate magnesium or a magnesium deficient diet. Over a
one-year period, urine samples were collected every three months and a
blood sample was taken from each rat at the end of the year. Bone
samples from the thighs and vertebrae of each rat were also analyzed
for bone density.
Results showed that bone density was significantly higher in the rats
that received adequate magnesium in their diets. Microscopic
examination of the bones revealed signs of osteoporosis in only the
rats that received inadequate magnesium. Also, less force was required
to break the bones of these rats compared to the bones of the rats that
received proper amounts of magnesium.
Over the past week I just happened to come across the three studies
mentioned above. But these are by no means the only ways that the body
puts magnesium to good use.
In previous e-Alerts I've told you how magnesium intake has been shown
to help heart muscle cells relax, reduce blood pressure, and even lower
homocysteine levels. No surprise then that magnesium deficiency has
been linked to elevated heart disease risk. But about half of all
Americans don't get an adequate intake of magnesium. And to complicate
the situation, many factors contribute to magnesium depletion. High
stress and menstruation can take their toll on magnesium levels, while
a heavy intake of starches, alcohol, diuretics and some prescription
drugs (such as antibiotics) can increase urinary excretion of
Magnesium is naturally present in green leafy vegetables, avocados,
nuts and seeds, and whole grains, but usually only in small amounts, so
you'd need to eat a wide variety of these foods regularly to get all
the magnesium you need.
In the e-Alert "Mind Over Matter" (5/27/05), HSI Panelist Allan Spreen,
M.D., offered these guidelines on magnesium supplementation: "I've
always recommended 500 mg/day, since absorption of most forms isn't
"My limit for oral magnesium is that which causes any loosening of the
stools, and there's always a distinct dose that will do it. I'm careful
to warn people not to go over that limit for the simple reason that
food is moved through the GI tract too quickly with too much magnesium,
and that cuts down on absorption of nutrients (both from foods and
supplements). However, that amount is usually between 400 and 1500
"Now, bear in mind that that's ELEMENTAL magnesium. In a supplement,
such as magnesium oxide, the tablet that is sold as a 400 mg tablet
only has 241.3 mg of elemental magnesium. So, when you take a '400 mg'
tablet, you aren't getting 400 mg of magnesium anyway. Plus, even the
label says you can take 2 per day, or 800 mg."
Whatever way you choose to get it, you can be sure that your body will
love a daily supply of magnesium.
"Dietary Magnesium Depletion Affects Metabolic Responses During
Submaximal Exercise in Postmenopausal Women" Journal of Nutrition,
Vol. 132, No. 5, May 2002
"Prolonged Magnesium Deficiency Causes Osteoporosis in the Rat" Journal
of the American College of Nutrition" Vol. 23, No. 6, December 2004