Fact Checked

Written by James Dixon

Most people are deficient in Magnesium, yet the benefits it offers are profound – particularly if you’re suffering with anxiety or poor sleep. James Dixon explains why he always incorporates Magnesium into his daily life.

There’s a lot to say about magnesium. It is a common chemical, element Mg. It is a shiny gray solid at room temperature and is the eighth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. It’s used in industry, and classrooms around the world enjoy it going up like a firework.

This is all well and good. But really, we’re here to talk about health and wellbeing. For me, this is where magnesium really comes into its own, as one of the most profound supplements going.

This is because it is an essential nutrient for human health and is involved in almost all major biological processes in the body, including energy production, DNA synthesis, and muscle contraction.

What role does magnesium play in the human body?

Magnesium plays several important roles in the human body, and the following benefits are why I take it myself:

Energy production

Magnesium is involved in ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production and metabolism. This is incredibly important for anybody, as ATP is cells’ primary energy source. It acts as a cofactor for the enzymes involved in the glycolysis and Krebs cycle, both of which generate ATP. Magnesium is also required for the activity of ATPase, an enzyme responsible for converting ATP into ADP (adenosine diphosphate).

In short, magnesium plays a critical role in the energy metabolism of cells – you won’t have much energy without it.

Muscle and nerve function

Magnesium is essential for muscle contraction and relaxation. It plays a crucial role in regulating the electrical impulses that enable nerve communication and muscle coordination.

If you don’t have healthy, optimal magnesium levels, your muscle cells will not be able to contract properly. Additionally, magnesium helps to regulate the flow of calcium across cell membranes, which is necessary for muscle contractions. This will all lead to muscle weakness and impaired movement – I’ve actually had clients in the past make enormous strength and athletic gains simply by raising their magnesium levels.

Magnesium also supports the proper functioning of the neurotransmitters involved in nerve impulse transmission, allowing for smooth and coordinated muscle movements. This means greater motor control and mind-muscle contraction, which is vital for athleticism, as well as for staying healthy, active, and injury free (especially as you age).

You will struggle to maintain healthy muscle contractions and nerve function if you don’t have a good amount of magnesium in your diet.

Heart health

Magnesium is important for maintaining a normal heart rhythm – it supports the heart muscle’s contraction and relaxation.

It functions as an electrolyte, helping to balance the electrical activity in the heart cells. It regulates the movement of ions across cell membranes, which is essential for generating the electrical signals that coordinate heart contractions.

It also helps to relax the smooth muscles within the blood vessels, which in turn allows for healthy blood flow whilst also reducing strain on the heart.

By helping in the relaxation and contraction of the heart muscle, magnesium contributes to maintaining a healthy heart rhythm and optimal cardiovascular function.

Bone health

knee bone mass bone health illustration

We all know that calcium is vital for bone health. However, so too might magnesium be.

Magnesium is believed to contribute to bone formation and influence bone mineral density. This plays a role in developing and maintaining strong, healthy bones. It is thought that magnesium helps to regulate the activities of bone-building cells, called osteoblasts, and bone-resorbing cells, called osteoclasts.

Healthy magnesium levels are important for these processes as magnesium is involved in bone protein synthesis and the conversion of vitamin D into its active form, which is essential for calcium absorption and utilization in bone tissue.

In fact, studies have linked lower magnesium levels with osteoporosis onset, especially in menopausal women (though further research is needed before we can fully understand what’s at play here – the exact mechanisms at work, as well as the clinical implications of magnesium in bone health).

For now, suffice to say that optimizing your magnesium intake will likely lead to stronger, denser bones, with all the advantages that entail.

Blood pressure regulation

Magnesium plays a role in blood pressure regulation. As we’ve seen, it helps to relax the smooth muscles in blood vessels – this is how it supports heart health.

Well, this should also extend to blood pressure. Magnesium helps to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance, including the likes of calcium and potassium – both of which are crucial for maintaining proper blood pressure levels.

Optimal magnesium levels can contribute to blood vessel dilation, which in turn will lead to lower blood pressure. This vasodilation allows for improved blood flow and decreased resistance in the arteries, reducing the workload on the heart. On the other hand, if your magnesium levels are too low, you may see inhibition to blood vessel, leading to vasoconstriction and potentially higher blood pressure.

DNA synthesis and repair

Magnesium is believed to play a role in DNA synthesis, repair, and stability, which contributes to the maintenance of genetic integrity. It is involved in several important processes related to DNA.

During DNA synthesis, your body needs magnesium ions to work as co-factors for enzymes that are responsible for adding new nucleotides to the growing DNA strand. Magnesium helps to coordinate with DNA polymerase, the enzyme involved in DNA replication.

Magnesium also contributes to DNA repair mechanisms. It interacts with enzymes that are responsible for removing and replacing damaged nucleotides in the DNA strand. Additionally, magnesium helps stabilize the structure of DNA, protecting it from damage and ensuring its integrity.

Protein synthesis

Magnesium is very closely involved with protein synthesis, which in turn is vital for the growth, repair, and maintenance of various tissues in the body – including muscles.

Protein synthesis is a complex process during which amino acids are assembled to form proteins. Magnesium plays a direct role in several steps in this process. It acts as a cofactor for enzymes that initiate and catalyze protein synthesis, as well as aiding protein conformation and stability.

How can supplementing with magnesium help you?

calm sleep woman asleep and relaxed

I’ve had a lot of success both myself and with past clients taking magnesium as part of a complete supplement routine.

As we have seen, magnesium is involved in plenty of bodily processes, including the likes of protein synthesis, energy production and metabolism, DNA replication, and muscle contraction. It is important for maintaining proper muscle function, and may help to reduce muscle cramps and spasms. Low levels of magnesium in the body can lead to muscle cramps and spasms, which can derail any athletic endeavor.

By aiding muscular contraction and coordination, there are some genuinely impressive athletic benefits to be gained from supplementing with magnesium. In aiding protein synthesis, it helps you to repair and recover from exercise, whilst aiding hypertrophy (muscle growth). You should find yourself more energized and stronger, with greatly improved coordination by taking it.

Then there are some great health benefits to be gained outside the gym.

One potential benefit of magnesium supplementation is its ability to lower blood pressure in individuals with hypertension. Studies have shown that magnesium supplements can help reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels in those suffering with it.

The exact mechanism by which magnesium exerts this effect is not fully understood, but we have seen how it can help to relax smooth muscles in the blood vessel walls, leading to dilation and a decrease in blood pressure. This should naturally decrease pressure.

Magnesium supplementation has also been linked to improvements in sleep quality. It acts as a natural sedative by binding to GABA receptors in the brain. This in turn helps to promote relaxation, reducing sensations of stress and anxiety. By calming the nervous system, magnesium can help to prepare the mind and body for sleep, making it a potential aid to insomnia treatment.

In addition to its potential benefits for hypertension and improved sleep, magnesium also plays important roles in other areas of health. For example, magnesium is crucial for maintaining healthy bones, as it helps in bone formation and strength. Low magnesium levels have been associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Furthermore, magnesium has been found to play a role in regulating insulin, which is important for managing blood sugar levels, especially in those suffering with type 2 diabetes. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to insulin resistance, a condition in which the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin and can’t use glucose effectively. Studies have shown that magnesium supplementation may help to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes.

Magnesium may also offer benefits to your mood. Research suggests that magnesium supplementation may improve symptoms of anxiety and depression – I have personally found this to be true. It acts as a natural relaxant (hence benefits to sleep) and has been shown to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety in some individuals. Additionally, magnesium is involved in the regulation of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which play central roles in mood regulation.

A final word

Magnesium is a vital mineral that plays a vast number of important roles in the body – in fact, it is involved pretty much across the board. From regulating blood pressure and improving sleep to supporting bone health and insulin sensitivity, magnesium rears its head everywhere. It’s central to energy production, DNA synthesis, and muscle function.

Healthy magnesium intake offers a range of potential benefits across all of these areas, as well as potentially having a positive impact on mood and helping to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

While magnesium can be obtained from various food sources, magnesium deficiency is common. I would argue that supplementation is necessary in most cases, especially for anybody following a typical, modern, Western diet.

I would therefore urge anybody and everybody to consider it.

Do note, however, that if you’re suffering with any specific medical concerns, your first step should always be to consult with your healthcare provider. They will be able to help you, running any necessary tests and putting together a comprehensive treatment plan where needed.