The importance of magnesium in the body is too often overlooked in favor of calcium or even iron.
Many people may not even know what it is or what it does. Truth is that this mineral is responsible for over 300 metabolic reactions in the body, including protein, DNA, RNA, and antioxidant synthesis; muscle and nerve function; cell signaling, glucose and blood pressure regulation; and the formation and structure of bones and soft tissue. (1) Yet most people don’t get enough magnesium in their daily diets.
In addition to its role in the synthesis of antioxidants, most notably glutathione (the “master antioxidant”), magnesium binds to heavy metals in the blood (e.g., cadmium, chromium, nickel, zinc, and others), assisting in their elimination from the body. (2, 3) It also has the ability to prevent stroke.
Magnesium from food is absorbed in the small intestine and is distributed throughout the body in the blood. It is part of bones and soft tissue. The kidneys maintain a proper magnesium level in the blood and if there’s too much, it gets flushed out as waste. (4)
The Dangers of Magnesium Deficiency
In 2009, the World Health Organization reported that 75% of Americans were magnesium deficient. A recently published meta-analysis of forty separate studies from nine countries regarding the effects of magnesium on human health involved over one million participants over a period of four to thirty years and found some interesting results.
Here’s what they found:
- Many people have low serum (blood) magnesium levels (2.5-15% of subjects in included studies).
- Increasing daily magnesium by 100mg a day didn’t affect the incidence of cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease.
- Increasing daily magnesium intake by 100mg a day significantly reduced the risk of stroke, heart failure, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality.
“…many adults fail to meet the recommended daily intake of magnesium, despite the fact that epidemiology studies indicate that low levels of serum magnesium can increase the risk of a wide range of diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes (T2D), Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease (CVD)…However, no clear association was found between magnesium intake and the risk of coronary heart disease or total cardiovascular disease, which may have been due – at least in part – to the relatively limited number of studies included in our analysis.” (5)
The current recommended dietary amount for magnesium is 400-420mg for men over 19 years and 310-320 for women (add 40mg if pregnant for healthy fetal development). (6)
Importance of Magnesium
Dr. Mildred Seelig was a world-renowned magnesium scholar. She published studies and books about magnesium and its role in human physiology and the consequences of chronic deficiency. In her book Magnesium Deficiency in the Pathogenesis of Disease, she cites inadequate magnesium as a significant factor in: