Posted: 28 Nov 2022 By:  Reading time: minutes remaining

Magnesium Health Benefits – Why You Need It Now

Discover some magnesium health benefits and why you need this mineral to thrive. Find out how plants absorb magnesium, signs of magnesium deficiency, and how to get enough of it.

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The information is presented for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe treat or cure cancer.This information is not intended as medical advice, please refer to a qualified healthcare professional.

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is an abundant mineral in many foods. In nature, you can find it in many different forms, such as:

  • Magnesium chloride(sea)
  • Magnesite (insoluble rock salt also known as magnesium carbonate)
  • Chlorophyll(inside plants)

Magnesium is a metallic chemical element vital for human and plant life. It is one of 13 mineral nutrients and dissolves in water. Plants absorb the mineral through the roots. 

Magnesium is behind photosynthesis in plants. Photosynthesis allows plants to turn light, water, and carbon dioxide into energy. Plants need the energy to grow and produce flowers or fruit.

Plants getting sunshine

Magnesium is behind photosynthesis in plants

Magnesium is in the heart of the chlorophyll molecule. Chlorophyll is a vital part of photosynthesis. It makes plants green, but it does a lot more than that. 

Without magnesium, chlorophyll cannot capture the solar energy needed for photosynthesis. Magnesium gives leaves their green color. Plants also use magnesium for the metabolism of carbohydrates.

Without magnesium, plants can't grow properly.

Plants Need Magnesium To Grow

Magnesium deficiency in plants is common in soils not rich in this mineral. This deficiency is more likely to happen in sandy soils than clay soils. 

Heavy rains can cause a lack by leaching magnesium out of sandy or acidic soil. Also, if the ground contains lots of potassium, plants may absorb this instead of magnesium. 

Magnesium deficiency in plants starts in lower leaves to upper leaves. The bottom leaves will turn yellow if your plant has a magnesium deficiency.

Plant with yellow leaves

The bottom leaves in plants will turn yellow if they have a magnesium deficiency, picture by H. Zell

Purple, red, or brown spots may also appear on the leaves. If left unchecked, the leaf and the plant will die.

Magnesium is water-soluble and is often leached from plants by heavy rains. This mineral is a secondary plant nutrient. Most plants need less magnesium than nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium. But, it is still an essential nutrient, and plants will suffer without it.

There are other possible causes of magnesium deficiency in plants. One common cause is a lack of water.

Common Causes Of Magnesium Deficiencies In Plants

Plants need water to help them get the nutrients they need. After magnesium dissolves in water, plants absorb it through their roots.

Without enough water in the soil, plants will not absorb magnesium. This problem will lead to yellow leaves and other nutrient deficiency symptoms.

calcium from plants

Too much calcium in the soil can prevent plants from absorbing magnesium

A soil pH that is too low or too high will also cause a magnesium deficiency in plants. This problem is more likely to occur when soil pH falls below 5.5. If your soil pH is too low, you can add lime (calcium carbonate) to raise the pH. 

Too many other nutrients in the soil can also cause a magnesium deficiency in plants. When too many nutrients are in the ground, they can prevent plants from absorbing other nutrients.

For example, too much calcium in the soil can prevent plants from absorbing magnesium. One reason for this is that magnesium and calcium have similar chemical properties. 

When there is too much calcium in the soil, magnesium loses this competition. Thus, the plant ends up with a magnesium deficiency. 

Plants are not the only ones that need magnesium. Our bodies also require it. Let's learn some magnesium health benefits.

Magnesium Health Benefits

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral. Your body stores 99% of its total magnesium in your bones, muscles, and soft tissues. Only about 1% magnesium exists in your blood.

Magnesium is behind more than 300 enzyme systems in the body. Enzymes help the body's ability to function while supporting life. They allow reactions to occur without damaging the body's fragile tissues and organs.

Man and woman jogging in nature

Magnesium is behind more than 300 enzyme systems in the body

We need magnesium for: 

Why We Need Magnesium
  • Glucose and fat breakdown
  • Blood pressure regulation
  • Production of proteins, enzymes, and antioxidants such as glutathione
  • Creation of DNA and RNA
  • Regulation of cholesterol
  • The energy-production process inside cells
  • Cell reproduction
  • Transport of substances across cells
  • Vital to our nerve impulse, muscle contraction, and heart rhythm

An adult body has about 25 g of magnesium. Measuring magnesium is difficult because most magnesium exists inside our bones. No single method can measure magnesium satisfactory. 

The most used method for assessing magnesium is serum magnesium concentration. But even serum levels have little correlation with total body magnesium levels. 

Other methods for estimating magnesium status include measuring:

  • Magnesium concentrations in erythrocytes, saliva, and urine
  • Ionized magnesium concentrations in blood, plasma, or serum
  • A magnesium-loading or tolerance test

If we don't consume enough magnesium, we can become sick.

What Happens When We're Deficient In Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the essential nutrients for maintaining optimal health. Less than 60% of adults in the United States have adequate intake values. 

Magnesium plays a central role in about every bodily process. Low levels of this crucial mineral lead to many chronic conditions. Magnesium deficiency can cause Alzheimer's, diabetes, bone-related issues, and heart disease

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, occurs in women one to two weeks before menstruation. Symptoms can vary but typically include:

  • Mood swings
  • Food cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Sore breasts
  • Weight gain
  • Water retention
  • Irritability
  • Digestive issues

Some studies have shown that magnesium may help reduce these symptoms. In one study, magnesium and vitamin B6 decreased PMS symptoms compared to a control group. Another study showed that 200 milligrams of magnesium daily reduced PMS symptoms. 

A woman experiencing menstrual pain

Magnesium may help reduce premenstrual syndrome in women

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common condition worldwide. It forces your heart to work harder and weakens the heart muscle.

A diet with magnesium-rich foods may improve your heart and blood pressure. One study found that magnesium reduced blood pressure in adults with hypertension.

Together with calcium, magnesium supports proper blood pressure and protects the heart. Magnesium deficiency often causes low calcium and high blood pressure.

When we consume enough magnesium, we can improve our exercise, inflammation, and migraines.

Magnesium Can Improve Our Exercise, Inflammation And Migraines

During strenuous exercise, your body uses 10-20% more magnesium. A study looked at the effects of magnesium on performance in 124 older women. After 12 weeks, daily supplementation with magnesium oxide improved physical performance. 

Low levels of magnesium can cause more inflammation. A 2014 study found that low magnesium intake led to low-grade chronic inflammation

Women exercising

Your body uses 10-20% more magnesium when you exercise

Another study showed magnesium chloride reduced inflammation in 62 adults with prediabetes.

Migraines are a type of headache that causes nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and pain. Low levels of magnesium may contribute to migraines. 

One study measured the effects of magnesium in 86 children with frequent migraines. Children received either a magnesium oxide supplement or a placebo for 16 weeks. Those who took the supplement had fewer headaches than the placebo group.

Magnesium can also help us deal with depression and anxiety.

People Who Struggle With Depression And Anxiety Have Magnesium Deficiencies

Magnesium can help fight against depression and anxiety. In one study, young adults with lower magnesium had about 22% more risk of having depression. Another study in 2017 found that magnesium improved both depression and anxiety. 

Magnesium can help calm the body and muscles and improve your mood. When we feel stressed, we use more magnesium. Stress increases our magnesium loss, causing a deficiency.

sad guy

Magnesium can help fight against depression and anxiety

Magnesium deficiency and stress share similar symptoms. The most common ones are fatigue, irritability, and anxiety.

Factors contributing to magnesium deficiency
  • Inadequate magnesium intake
  • High protein diet
  • High sodium diet
  • High calcium diet
  • High caffeine intake
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Lack of sleep
  • Chronic stress
  • Diuretics(furosemide)
  • Proton-pump inhibitors(omeprazole)
  • Cisplatin
  • Antibiotics(gentamicin)
  • Pregnancy
  • Ageing
  • Menopause

Research has shown that there may be a connection between magnesium and sleep. In one study, participants who took supplements experienced reduced insomnia. 

Magnesium plays a vital role in the body's metabolism of vitamin D. We need vitamin D to absorb calcium into the bones. People with vitamin D deficiency increase their risk of:

  • Bone-related disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Psoriasis
  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Cancer

Restless leg syndrome is another warning sign of a magnesium deficiency. To overcome leg cramps, you need to increase your intake of both magnesium and potassium.

One of the four leading causes of magnesium deficiency is type II diabetes. U.K. researchers looked at 1452 adults. Those with low magnesium levels were ten times more likely to be diabetics. (7)

Low energy, weakness, and fatigue are common symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Most chronic fatigue syndrome patients are magnesium-deficient. 

We need magnesium to create strong bones. Therefore low magnesium levels can lead to osteoporosis.

A lack of magnesium can also increase your cancer risk.

A Lack Of Magnesium Can Increase Your Risk Of Cancer

Research into the effects of magnesium on cancer has been ongoing since the 1960s. A meta-analysis study found that higher magnesium intakes led to less colorectal cancer. 15 

Magnesium deficiency can lead to the start and growth of cancer and hinder treatments. Cells will wither and die without enough magnesium. 

cancer cells disintegrating

Magnesium deficiency can lead to the start and growth of cancer and hinder treatments

Patients receiving chemotherapy are at high risk of magnesium deficiency. Chemotherapy drugs such as Cisplatin lower magnesium levels. The vomiting and diarrhea from this treatment can deplete magnesium levels.

A study in 2000 found that almost half of cancer patients in ICU had low magnesium levels. Magnesium is good against cancer when it stabilizes and repairs DNA and RNA. 

Now that you learned some magnesium health benefits let's find out how to get enough of this mineral.

Summary

Magnesium is a metallic chemical element vital for human and plant life.

Magnesium is behind photosynthesis in plants.

Magnesium deficiency in plants starts in lower leaves to upper leaves.

Magnesium is behind more than 300 enzyme systems in the body.

Less than 60% of adults in the United States have adequate intake values.

Magnesium plays a central role in about every bodily process.

During strenuous exercise, your body uses 10-20% more magnesium.

Low levels of magnesium may contribute to migraines.

Magnesium can help fight against depression and anxiety.

Magnesium plays a vital role in the body's metabolism of vitamin D.

Magnesium deficiency can lead to the start and growth of cancer and hinder treatments.

How To Get Enough Magnesium Health Benefits

1. Eat foods rich in magnesium such as fruits and vegetables

2. Read our free nutrition guide

Action Steps

Today you learned some magnesium health benefits and why you need this mineral to be healthy. So how do you get enough of this mineral?

The best way to get magnesium is through your diet. Supplements contain a synthetic form of magnesium. Why not get it the way God/nature tended us to receive it?

Magnesium exists in plants and beverages. Vegetables such as legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are good sources of magnesium.

Consuming dark leafy organic greens is one of the best ways to get magnesium. Some examples are spinach, collard greens, and kale. If you're deficient in magnesium, try to consume these plants.

In general, foods containing dietary fiber provide magnesium. Food processing, such as refining grains, lowers the magnesium content.

cancer diet

Read The Ultimate Cancer Diet And Nutrition Guide

Read our Ultimate Cancer Diet And Nutrition Guide to learn more about plant nutrition and magnesium.


Find out how to eat a healthy plant-based diet that can help you fight cancer.


Discover more about micro-and macronutrients and how to get enough calories on a plant-based diet.



Resources:


About the author 

Simon Persson

Simon Persson is a holistic cancer blogger passionate about natural health remedies. When he is not blogging, he enjoys nature, cooking, sports, and learning about the latest gadgets on the market.

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