Magnesium is an electrolyte that plays an important role in the body, especially for the functions of the muscles and the nervous system. In terms of quantity, it is the second most important mineral in the human body after calcium.
An adult of 75 kilograms has about 24 grams of magnesium in the body. The main part of magnesium is inside the cells, especially inside the bones. Very little is found in the extracellular space and in the blood plasma.
Magnesium is considered a fuel for the body and mind. A large part is in the bones, the rest in different organs and in the tissue. Only a very small part dissolves in the blood.
The mineral has an impact on a large number of enzymes and, in addition, on cell generation, energy production, and the use of oxygen in the body. However, the body cannot produce the mineral by itself, so it must be ingested with food.
Because the substance is so important to the body, many people take supplements to meet their daily needs. Older people and young adults often have trouble meeting their daily needs only through normal food intake.
The effect on the body
The mineral has numerous positive effects on the body:
- Preservation of teeth and bones.
- Kidney stone prevention.
- Fatigue reduction.
- Maintain healthy muscles.
- Contribution to a healthy energy metabolism
Interaction with calcium
Many people know that calcium is necessary for the body to develop and maintain bones and teeth. However, magnesium is also indispensable because together with vitamin D, ensures that calcium can be absorbed by food and also reaches the bones.
This allows calcium to be used in its proper place and does not have to be excreted. This also prevents calcium from depositing in the kidneys and, therefore, prevents the development of kidney stones.
In addition, the mineral can counteract fatigue more quickly. Ensures good blood circulation and rapid transmission of stimuli to the nerves. If the need is not satisfied, this causes faster fatigue.
It is also important for the muscles. Since it is responsible for the rapid transmission of muscle stimuli along with sodium and potassium, it ensures good muscle function.
In this regard, magnesium is also of great importance for our energy metabolism. Here it plays an essential role since it activates the most important energy source of the cells.
This is adenosine triphosphate, often simply called ATP. ATP is also required for each form of muscle activity, which cannot function without magnesium.
Magnesium does great things in the body
The body cannot produce magnesium by itself. It can only be got from the food. Therefore, adequate provision depends on eating habits. Every movement and every muscle activity is closely related to the state of magnesium in the body.
The stability of our teeth and bones depends on the level of magnesium supply. The same applies to the proper functioning of the numerous metabolic processes.
A sufficient supply of salt also protects the human organism from mental illnesses, such as depression. As a natural inhibitor, the mineral plays an important role in blood clotting.
Neither the heart muscle nor the other muscle groups can fulfill their natural task without an adequate supply of magnesium. The mineral is a recognized enzyme activator that shapes the human energy supply.
The daily requirement of an adult is between 350 and 400 mg. Pregnant women and convalescents have a greater need.
A normal serum value is between 0.7 and 1.1 mmol / l. The average daily requirement of magnesium for men is about 0.35 grams and for women about 0.3 grams. Pregnant and lactating women have a greater need.
Magnesium is found in foods mainly in whole grains, mineral waters that contain minerals, milk, dairy products, liver, poultry, leafy vegetables, nuts, bananas, and sunflower seeds.
Magnesium and its functions in the body
The mineral is the most important calcium antagonist and, together with it, regulates the excitability of the body’s cells.
Among other things, it is responsible for the transmission of action potentials from nerve cells to muscle cells and, therefore, plays an important role in driving excitation. In addition, the content of magnesium in the blood influences the heart muscles, skeletal muscles, and also vascular muscles.
The electrolyte regulates muscle contractions and, therefore, guarantees the function of all body muscles. Magnesium is particularly important for the conductance of the heart.
If the magnesium content in the blood is too high or too low, cardiac arrhythmias may occur. In addition, the electrolyte has an effect on the release of adrenaline and helps maintain the hormonal balance of the adrenal glands and the thyroid gland.
This means that the mineral is also responsible for stress regulation. It also influences the regulation of blood sugar. Like calcium, magnesium also performs tasks in bone metabolism.
The natural sources of the mineral
Whole grain products are among the most important suppliers of the mineral. It is contained in paddy rice, as well as nuts and seeds. Seeds, sunflower seeds, and nuts are the main suppliers of magnesium.
But almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame, and poppy seeds also provide the mineral. Vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kohlrabi, white cabbage, and legumes such as peas, beans, and lentils contribute to the supply.
Anyone who regularly uses fresh fruit such as bananas, pineapple, raspberries, or kiwifruit is consuming magnesium, as well as the consumer of dried apricots, dates, and figs.
The chocolate with a cocoa content of over 70% also contains the vital substance.
A series of natural mineral waters contain the mineral magnesium. The concentration varies by the origin and is documented on the label with the ingredients.
Lack of magnesium
Without magnesium, there is simply no life. Nighttime muscle spasm is one of the best-known deficiency symptoms, but it is by no means the greatest danger.
Protein formation is as impossible as enzymatic activity. Diabetes is favored by a deficiency of magnesium and cannot be treated without an adequate supply of magnesium.
Known deficiencies include constriction of blood vessels, increased kidney stone formation, and retinal disease. There is also a direct connection between magnesium deficiency and common diseases of overweight, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol levels.
The list of deficiency symptoms could go on and on. Precisely because magnesium significantly influences all body processes, the health problems in a deficiency are very diverse.
The body cannot produce magnesium by itself. Therefore, lack of intake can lead to a deficiency. Severe alcoholism and malnutrition, as well as pronounced absorption disorders in the gastrointestinal area, can also cause magnesium deficiency.
Muscle cramps are characteristic of a deficiency. A severe deficiency can cause irregular heartbeats, fatigue, nervousness, vomiting, and diarrhea. Movement coordination disorders can also occur with a magnesium deficiency.
Consequences of the lack of magnesium
Magnesium deficiency occurs much more frequently in our time. The magnesium requirement can generally be met with a balanced diet.
If the deficiency lasts only briefly, then the body can also save it through its reserves of magnesium in the bones. However, if this phase lasts longer, magnesium deficiency can have physical consequences. This is due to a greater loss or insufficient intake. The deficiency can have different causes.
A common cause is poor nutrition
For example, an inadequate intake of foods that contain magnesium can lead to a deficiency. The same applies to a diet that is too salty, too high in fat, too high in sugar, or too high in protein.
Problems with the intestines and stomach can also cause deficiency. For example, persistent diarrhea or vomiting can cause magnesium deficiency. The same applies to the excessive use of laxatives. Certain bowel diseases, such as celiac disease or the removal of sections of the intestine during surgery, may also be responsible for a deficiency.
An increase in the excretion of the mineral through the kidneys can also lead to a deficiency of magnesium
This can be caused by hyperaldosteronism (increased release of aldosterone), diabetes mellitus, or the use of diuretics (draining drugs) for a long time.
There may be a greater need for certain medications. These include, for example, laxatives, oral contraceptives, and diuretics (draining drugs). Some people also simply have a higher magnesium requirement and cannot cover it through normal eating habits. These include, for example, athletes, pregnant women, or nursing mothers, and people who do heavy physical work.
The symptoms of a magnesium deficiency are mostly very unspecific and can also occur in many other diseases. Therefore, they are not evidence of a deficit. However, muscle cramps, particularly those of the calves or masticatory muscles, are particularly common and many well-known complaints.
Other symptoms that may indicate magnesium deficiency include:
- Nervousness and restlessness.
- Digestion problems (diarrhea or constipation).
- Muscle spasms.
- Circulatory disorders.
- Feeling of numbness in the feet and hands.
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to identify a magnesium deficiency. Since only about one percent of the mineral is in the blood, it has a low concentration.
If it is only a mild or moderate deficit, the blood value may still be fine. Only at a very low concentration of fewer than 0.5 millimoles does the deficiency in blood values appear.
Magnesium has a great influence on the body as described above and also influences other minerals. A magnesium deficiency can have serious consequences.
Therefore, the deficit should be remedied as quickly as possible. If the deficiency is treated properly, the problem can be remedied quickly and the symptoms disappear.
Magnesium overdose and its consequences
An excess of magnesium in the body occurs only in very rare cases. Usually, the body can excrete excess magnesium. This can cause softer stools or diarrhea. An overdose actually only occurs if there is kidney failure.
Then the body cannot excrete the excess, as would be the case in healthy people. Symptoms may vary and include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, shallow breathing, and even symptoms of paralysis.
Therefore, if you have reduced kidney function, you should definitely consult a doctor before taking magnesium supplements. For everyone else, the additional intake of the mineral in the form of dietary supplements is harmless.
If the vital mineral is properly supplied to the body through food, there is almost no risk of overdosing. The body takes exactly the amount of magnesium it needs.
Excess quantities are excreted because the mineral cannot be stored. An excess can only occur if renal function is impaired. Since kidney diseases are in the hands of a specialist, they will educate their patients about the risk.
The side effects of an overdose are diarrhea, muscle weakness, weakness of the bladder, and nausea. The proven means to treat an overdose are calcium supplements.
Calcium is the natural counterpart of magnesium., The ideal ratio of calcium to magnesium is 2:1. This ideal can be implemented with a look at the ingredients and is suitable for daily use when buying mineral water.
Dosage forms of magnesium
With a varied diet combined with a sufficient amount of drink, the body normally has the required amount of magnesium.
In special life situations, such as pregnancy, high levels of stress, increased physical activity, and chronic diseases or in menopause, the need for magnesium increases.
In consultation with the attending physician, additional magnesium supplements are prescribed. The advice of experts in the pharmacy or the knowledge of a qualified nutritionist is useful when choosing the optimal product and its individual dosage.
Magnesium products are available in different dosage forms. The mineral is available as soluble tablets with and without effervescent effect, in powder form with and without flavorings, as capsules and classic tablets.
The individual needs of a person are different. It depends, among other things, on age and gender. Until the age of 25, demand increases more and more with age and then only decreases slightly.
A daily intake of 350 to 400 milligrams is recommended for men 19 years and older. For women 19 years of age or older, a guideline of 300 to 390 milligrams per day is recommended, which also depends on whether the woman is pregnant or breastfeeding.
In addition, certain people may have a greater need. Athletes lose additional minerals through sweat and, therefore, have more needs. In diabetics, minerals are increasingly lost in the urine, so they can become deficient. A deficiency can occur in the elderly because they drink too little liquid.
To compensate for or prevent magnesium deficiency, many people take nutritional supplements. This is particularly useful if the need cannot be met through normal food intake.
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) recommends that a maximum of 250 milligrams be taken per day. This value is below the estimated daily requirement since it is taken into account that minerals are still ingested through food. In addition, it is recommended to distribute the intake at two different times a day, as this increases tolerance, and less is lost in the urine.
In principle, the need can be met through various forms of intake. It is up to you which dosage form you choose. For example, the mineral is available as a capsule, tablet, or powder for direct ingestion. In addition, effervescent granules or tablets are also available, which dissolve in water.
There are different forms of magnesium supplements. The magnesium citrate is absorbed by the body more quickly. The so-called bioavailability is particularly high with magnesium citrate. High bioavailability means that the substance can be easily absorbed by the intestine.
The substance is associated with citrates, which are salts of citric acid. These also occur in the human body because they are involved in the production of energy. Magnesium citrate is soluble in water and, therefore, can be easily absorbed by the body.
Therefore, it causes the magnesium level to increase very quickly. For this reason, it is particularly suitable for the rapid supply of athletes and for muscle cramps. In addition, citrate also ensures that bowel movement accelerates.
It also contributes to good digestion and promotes bowel movements. As a result, magnesium citrate can also be useful for chronic constipation or slow digestion.