Magnesium is often termed the “master mineral” and is one of the six essential macro-minerals that comprise 99% of the body’s mineral content. Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common nutritional problems in the world today, yet it is the single most important mineral for maintaining electrical balance and metabolism in our bodily cells. It is known to be responsible for well over 300 bodily biochemical and cellular metabolic processes. The importance of magnesium cannot be overstated.
The importance of magnesium
Magnesium is involved in a multitude of vital bodily processes which include immune response, metabolising fats, carbohydrates, amino acids, nervous and muscular support, proper cardiac and brain function, blood sugar, blood pressure, energy and protein synthesis, the formation of strong bones and teeth and cellular health – the list goes on and on.
Whilst most people are aware of the importance of calcium in the diet, Magnesium is a much underrated, virtually ignored mineral, yet it is the most crucial and essential for biochemical and cellular metabolic processes.
Although calcium gets the most attention for supplementation, the importance of magnesium is such that without it, calcium synthesis into bones and teeth is drastically impaired. Cardiovascular and neurological problems are also likely to surface. The majority of people have a calcium to magnesium ratio that is out of whack at 3 to 1 or higher, but the ideal ratio is close to 2 to 1, actually 10 to 4. In other words, your body should have about half as much magnesium as calcium.
“Magnesium is a co-factor for the enzyme ATP (adenosine triphosphate) the main source of energy in 100% of cells. It stabilizes membranes and is required for protein production and DNA and RNA production. It’s a co-factor for over 700 and perhaps up to 1,300 enzyme systems, making it the hardest working mineral in the body. Magnesium also regulates the ion channels, determining which minerals – like potassium and calcium – are allowed inside the cells. It’s involved with muscle action and nerve conduction”
Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND
Aside from low energy and fatique, poor ATP cellular levels may be an underlying source of many auto-immune diseases and early death. Correcting deficiency in cellular ATP is therefore necessary for maintaining health.
Magnesium ions operate within cells to aid many different metabolic functions, including insulin regulation and sensitivity. Without this, there is insulin resistance, which inevitably leads to the onset of diabetes type 2 and type 3.
The importance of magnesium for the heart is especially significant with regard to heart rate and rhythm. Magnesium deficiency is frequently exhibited as arrhythmia or tachycardia. Whilst pharmaceutical drugs are prescribed to correct these conditions, many could be reversed by an appropriate intake of magnesium. Anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, and chronic fatigue may also be a manifestation of magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium accelerates recovery processes and fights inflammation. Additionally magnesium raises antioxidant levels and helps replenish muscle energy stores. It also has a calming effect on the central nervous system, reducing the heart rate, relaxing the muscles and enabling restful sleep.
Dietary sources of magnesium
Good food sources of magnesium are leafy green vegatables, whole grains, many legumes including peanuts, and raw nuts. Commercially grown crops however are likely to be woefully deficient. It has been determined that organic crops contain up to 10 times the magnesium of regular supermarket bought foods.
Unfortunately, mainly because of less than ideal topsoil conditions and poor eating habits, it seems that almost everyone is magnesium deficient to some extent.
Effective magnesium supplementation
Considering its lack of availability from the current food supply, the importance of magnesium for optimal health appears to demand some level of supplementation. Additionally and importantly for athletes, research indicates that supplementation with magnesium also increases free and total testosterone values in sedentary individuals and in athletes.
As an athlete If you’re not optimising your magnesium stores, then you are potentally compromising performance gains. Protein synthesis for example is likely to be impaired, compromising recovery, hypertrophy, and strength.
Oral forms of magnesium apparently make great laxatives but little of the magnesium is absorbed. Magnesium oxide is one such supplement which is commonly found, but this is not a bio-available form. Magnesium citrate is far superior as are chelated forms of magnesium. Magnesium is also readily absorbed through skin using transdermal patches or adding Epsom salts to bath water.
Ensure that you optimise your magnesium intake.
The Importance of Magnesium to Human Nutrition