Magnesium is a naturally-occurring mineral in the body, an electrolyte required to keep the body healthy, but what is magnesium good for specifically? For starters, it’s important for several body processes, including regulating nerve and muscle function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. It’s also used to make protein, bone, and DNA.1
Consequently, there are several health benefits that come with taking the average daily recommended amounts of this essential mineral. In general, for women, this is 310-320 mg and for men, it’s 400-420 mg. These numbers increase for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and decrease for teens and young children.
To avoid magnesium deficiency, it’s important to eat a variety of foods, including legumes, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables, all of which are rich in magnesium. Milk, yogurt, and fortified cereals are other ways to get daily nutrition from this mineral. Additionally, with the availability of GEM’s daily essential chewables, it gives people the opportunity to receive the nutrients they need, including magnesium, which is especially helpful as diets fluctuate.
Magnesium is a key ingredient in both the Sleep Essentials and Calm Essentials one-bites and is included for its powers as a body relaxer. Sourced from Irish coast seawater, magnesium hydroxide benefits sleep, mood, and brain activity. Optimal levels of supplemental magnesium also promote deep, restful sleep and overall body relaxation.
When it comes to your daily health, asking questions like “What does magnesium do for the body?” and learning more about its range of benefits highlights its nutritional impact. We’ve outlined five ways magnesium is used and how to know if you’re getting enough of it.
Natural Sleep Aid for Quality Rest
Although melatonin is often prescribed as a safe sleep aid, a magnesium dietary supplement offers a natural way to help the body and brain relax as well. Magnesium activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for instilling calm and relaxation in the body. It’s actually responsible for regulating melatonin, the hormone that guides the sleep cycles in your body.
Magnesium also binds to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, the neurotransmitters responsible for quieting nerve activity. All of this internal, chemical work signals that it’s time for the body and mind to prepare for sleep. Furthermore, magnesium aids in improving a person’s quality of sleep, to achieve the deeper stages of rest. This is beneficial for those who have trouble falling and staying asleep on a regular basis.
Insomnia and restless sleep may be signs there is a magnesium deficiency in the body. Research supports the use of it as part of sleep treatment. One study found magnesium supplementation of 500 mg daily for eight weeks improved measures of insomnia, such as sleep efficiency, sleep onset latency, and early morning awakening in elderly people when compared to the study’s placebo group.3 At GEM we’ve created sleep vitamin chewables that are made with magnesium, probiotics, GABA, Valerian Root, and other beneficial ingredients to support a restful sleep.
Stress Reduction and Mood Stabilization
It’s proven helpful for healthy sleep patterns, but what is magnesium used for in regards to reducing stress? Since one of the main functions of magnesium is to regulate nerve signals that help calm the body down, using it as a treatment for reducing stress and stabilizing moods is valuable. Increased stress and negative moods can inhibit poor sleep habits and vice-versa, contributing to an unhealthy cycle.
Fortunately, studies have shown including magnesium supplementation in treatment for depression could enhance the effects of conventional methods. Researchers speak to magnesium’s vital role in influencing brain biochemistry and the neurotransmitter pathways that are linked to the development of this mental health disorder.
There have been observations of mood changes, including confusion, anxiety, and apathy when a deficiency is detected. Several pre-clinical and clinical studies support the efficacy of conventional treatments for depression with the use of magnesium supplementation. Meanwhile, there’s research that also indicates that when there’s a deficiency of it in the body, a higher rate of anxiety and depression ensues.4
Bone Health and Pain Management
What is magnesium good in terms of building strong bones? Research points to magnesium as a contributing factor to bone health. It may serve as a low-cost and effective preventative measure against osteoporosis, particularly among individuals with a documented deficiency. One study directs attention to magnesium in a similar way calcium and vitamin D have been highlighted in effective bone health management in the past.
Researchers from the University of Milan found a significant association between bone density and the intake of magnesium.5 Low levels of magnesium intake slow down cartilage and bone calcification and bone formation. This low-level condition, referred to as hypomagnesemia, also promotes inflammation in the body, which leads to other side effects and adverse health conditions. Among these are obesity, high blood pressure, and chronic diseases.
There’s also been research indicating magnesium helps with general pain relief for a number of health problems. For example, it may help reduce the intensity of pain and improve mobility for those suffering from chronic lower back pain. It may also benefit people who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and minimize worsening symptoms. A deficiency in magnesium has also been linked to headaches, specifically recurring migraines.44
Insulin Level Management and Benefits Against Type 2 Diabetes
Poorly regulated insulin levels and instances of type 2 diabetes are also often frequently linked to individuals with magnesium deficiencies. Magnesium plays a functioning role in regulating insulin activity and a depletion of it impairs these actions. One study identifies a low intake of magnesium on a daily basis and an increase in magnesium through urinary loss as the two most important factors that affect depletion of the mineral in type 2 diabetes patients.
Further research reflects results of a group study of 4,497 people, ages 18-30, for over 20 years and found those that had the highest magnesium intake were 47 percent less likely to develop diabetes.6 The explanations of these results were in part associated with the inverse correlations of regular magnesium intake with systemic inflammation and insulin resistance.7
Enhanced Physical Performance During Exercise
In general, magnesium is involved in many of the body’s main processes that affect the muscles, such as energy production, oxygen uptake, and electrolyte balance. Replenishing electrolytes is important to athletes when training to enhance their exercise performance. Magnesium is one of the main electrolytes lost during intense activity and is not always adequately replenished. It’s necessary to support the body’s metabolic needs, which increase during exercise. One study notes a person may require 10-20 percent more magnesium when exercising versus when the body is at rest due to increase in sweat loss and urine output.8 Deficiency can impair performance and amplify negative consequences of strenuous exercise, such as oxidative stress.
Research also shows the average dietary intake of less than 260 mg/day for male athletes and less than 220 mg/day for female athletes may produce a deficiency state. Furthermore, a daily magnesium supplement has been shown to promote enhanced exercise performance by increasing glucose availability in the blood, muscles, and brain during physical activity.
In a USDA study, tri-athletes who supplemented with magnesium over a period of four weeks experienced faster running, cycling, and swimming times. These results were in addition to a reduced stress response that didn’t affect the athletes’ competitive potential.9
How Do I Know If I’m Getting Enough Magnesium?
Typically, men older than 70 and teenagers are the ones most likely to have low intakes of magnesium. Moreover, people with digestive diseases, who are unable to absorb vitamins and minerals sufficiently, have a higher risk of deficiency. People diagnosed with diabetes and alcohol dependence are linked to experiencing magnesium loss at greater than average levels as well.
In addition to these higher risk groups, many standard diets don’t include enough of the types of foods that naturally replenish magnesium in the body. Foods rich in magnesium include:
- Dark, leafy greens
- Seeds (such as pumpkin and chia)
- Nuts ( such as cashews and almonds)
- Dairy products
When there's a lack of these types of foods, a daily magnesium supplement is helpful in ensuring the daily recommended intake is achieved daily. Plus, it is also important to note that there are different types of magnesium as well. With GEM supplements, the chewable bites deliver a specific combination of ingredients that help support healthy body functions, including regulating magnesium levels. Meanwhile, there are magnesium deficiency symptoms to be aware of. Common signs include: 10
- Muscle cramps and weakness
- Changes in mood, including anxiety and depression
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
As you can see, low magnesium levels can lead to a number of issues. While these symptoms could be indicators of an array of health conditions, when combined with being in a high-risk group and lacking in magnesium-rich foods, it could make individuals more susceptible to a deficiency of this essential mineral. In short, supplemental magnesium aids the body in multiple ways. When there is a lack of it, it manifests both through declining physical and mental performance.
The multiple health benefits of magnesium deserve taking a closer look at the level you’re receiving each day. We may not always get the essential minerals we need from our regular diets. So, how can you make sure you’re getting what’s necessary? At GEM, our Calm Essentials and Sleep Essentials one-bite chewables ensure you’re receiving the daily blend of nutrients most valuable to your health.
- National Health Institutes of Health - Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/#
- Healthline. How Magnesium Can Help You Sleep. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/magnesium-and-sleep#
- Faculty of Nutrition and Food Technology, Tehran, Iran. Abassi, Behnood, et al. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23853635/
- Psychology Today. Breus, PhD, Michael J. “What You Need to Know About Magnesium and Your Sleep.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201805/what-you-need-know-about-magnesium-and-your-sleep
- Chair and Department of Applied Pharmacy, Medical University of Lublin, Chodzki, Lublin, Poland. Magnesium and depression. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27910808
- University of Milan. Castiglioni, Sara, et al. Magnesium and Osteoporosis: Current State of Knowledge and Future Research Directions, Nutrients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3775240/
- University of Palermo. Barbagallo, Mario and Dominguez, Ligia. Magnesium and type 2 diabetes. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26322160/
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kim, Dae Jung, et al. Magnesium intake in relation to systemic inflammation, insulin resistance, and the incidence of diabetes. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20807870/
- U.S. Department of Agricultural, Agricultural Research Service, Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, ND. Nielsen, FH and Lukaski HC. Update on the relationship between magnesium and exercise. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17172008/
- Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry, University Medical School, Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany. Golf, SW, et al. On the significance of magnesium in extreme physical stress. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9794094/