Benefits of Magnesium: What is it and why do you need it?

What is Magnesium?:

Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral. Through its role as a cofactor of about 300 enzymes, it is involved in almost all metabolic processes in our body. Basically, this means that magnesium is a necessary assistant to over 300 important bodily functions that our enzymes make happen.


Magnesium is considered one of the major minerals (besides calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur), which means we need more than 100 mg/day in our diets. It also means that the amount present in the body is greater than 5 g (or 5000 mg).


Why is Magnesium Important?

Magnesium is important for bone health, energy metabolism and blood sugar levels.


Two thirds (about 65%) of the magnesium stored in our body is located in our bones. Magnesium plays an important role in building and mineralisation of our bones. Together with calcium, it builds a functional and tight bone. About 34% of magnesium is stored in our muscles where it has a vital role in contraction, release and generating ATP for energy use. You have magnesium to thank for the fact that your muscles are not in a constant state of constriction. There is also about 1% of magnesium in our bloodstream, where it can help to regulate blood glucose levels.


Magnesium is a key tool in important enzyme systems that regulate the following biochemical reaction in the body:


  • Synthesis of DNA & RNA, which are the carriers of genetic information used for developing cells.
  • Protein synthesis, which is the creation of new proteins in our body
  • As a carrier of the central molecule of energy production ATP, it plays a major role in energy production.
  • It is embedded in the process of glycolysis, the breaking down of glucose for energy use.
  • Magnesium also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, which is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction and a steady heart rhythm.

There are a lot of health claims for magnesium - and a lot of good reasons to make sure you are getting enough magnesium. Potential positive effects with the most scientific support are:


  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Improves aerobic exercise
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Reduces PMS symptoms
  • Reduces migraine symptoms
  • Reduces asthmatic symptoms
  • Increases bone mineral density for stronger bones
  • Increases muscle oxygenation for more power during high intensity exercise
  • Reduces depressive symptoms

How do I know if I need more magnesium?

Magnesium deficiency in healthy adults is uncommon although habitually low intakes or excessive losses can lead to deficiencies. Testing of magnesium levels is difficult because of the limited amount that is detectable in our blood (<1% of body magnesium). There are few reliable tests and to assess magnesium status in the body, both a laboratory test and clinical assessment may be required.


Deficiency symptoms may include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness.


How much magnesium do I need?

Based on recommendations from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the average adult should take between 300-350 mg of magnesium daily. Taking additional magnesium is beneficial if you are deficient, so long as you do not consume more than 800 mg daily.


How do I get more magnesium?


A balanced diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains is the basis for an optimal supply of all substances that the body needs. Consuming foods high in magnesium or taking magnesium supplements are the best ways to get your necessary daily intake.


According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture, Food Composition Databases) the top ten magnesium-rich foods are:


Food Name

Amount (1 portion)

% of DV*

1. Cooked spinach

157 mg

39 %

2. Cooked swiss chard

150 mg

38 %

3. Dark chocolate

95 mg

24 %

4. Dried pumpkin seeds

92 mg

23 %

5. Almonds

75 mg

19 %

6. Black beans

60 mg

15 %

7. Avocado

58 mg

15 %

8. Dried figs

50 mg

13 %

9. Yogurt or kefir

36.5 mg

12 %

10. Banana

32 mg (half banana)

8 %


*Daily Value: percentage of the recommended amount for a regular adult that takes 2000 kcal/day.


The tricky part with consuming foods high in magnesium is that some of the most magnesium-rich foods also contain other minerals that hinder absorption in their raw form. Because of this, it is recommended to soak grains and beans before cooking, and cook leafy greens high in oxalic acid like spinach or swiss chard.


Consuming magnesium-rich foods with complex carbohydrates and soluble or fermentable fiber (such as the ones from fruits and veggies) can help with maximum absorption.


Want to make sure you are getting more magnesium? Check out our Wake Up mix to add an extra dose of magnesium to your diet.

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