Magnesium is involved in hundreds of different processes in the body. Therefore, the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency can be different. What surprising signs are possible, who is particularly at risk and how you can intelligently compensate for a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium is particularly well known in connection with magnesium deficiency and cramps. This applies to nocturnal calf cramps, but also massive cramps in athletes. But this important role that magnesium takes on for well-functioning muscles, only reflects a tiny aspect of its very broad spectrum of activity with diverse, vital functions.
What is magnesium
Magnesium is a mineral and belongs to the group of metals. This mineral is essential. This means that the body cannot produce magnesium itself, but the mineral is vital and must therefore be supplied with the diet. It is then absorbed through the intestinal walls and gets into the blood. Any excess is excreted through the kidneys with the urine. High fat foods, oxalates and phosphates can slow down the absorption of magnesium in the intestine.
Around 25 grams of magnesium are present in the organism (in a person weighing 70 kilograms). A good half is in the bones, a little less in the muscles and only one percent in the blood. The bones also act as magnesium stores. However, the magnesium content in bones decreases over the course of life.
In addition, minerals are divided into bulk and trace elements. Magnesium is one of the bulk elements because the body needs relatively large amounts of it, unlike trace elements such as iodine and copper.
Why Magnesium is Vital
Magnesium is involved in the activation of over 300 enzymes in the body, including in the protein structure. The mineral takes on decisive tasks for energy and cell metabolism and regulates many vital functions, including:
- Impulse transmission in muscle and nerve cells, magnesium ensures normal conduction of excitation in nerves and muscles. In connection with nerves, magnesium also supports brain functions and via the muscles, for example, the heart muscle. Adequate magnesium intake even seems to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death, a study suggests.
- Magnesium influences the heart rhythm and blood pressure.
- It relaxes muscles, nerves and blood vessels and can reduce the production of stress hormones. This normalization of the excitability of nerves and the vascular tension is probably responsible for the fact that with an adequate supply of magnesium, among other things, the number of migraine attacks demonstrably decreases, as the analysis of several studies showed.
- Magnesium can reduce the clumping of blood platelets, so it can support normal blood clotting. The risk of having a stroke decreases when the body receives enough magnesium, further research shows .
- It is involved in the utilization of glucose and in blood sugar control. The risk of type 2 diabetes has been shown to decrease if the mineral is taken in sufficiently.
- Magnesium is an important antagonist of calcium, prevents too much calcium from being stored, for example in muscles, but also vessels and organs. Magnesium can prevent the formation of kidney stones, which often consist of calcium oxalate.
- In addition, magnesium can neutralize too much stomach acid somewhat and thus reduce the risk of heartburn.
- In conjunction with calcium and vitamin D, magnesium controls the bone metabolism. Among other things, magnesium supports the activation of vitamin D in the kidneys. Magnesium is therefore an important factor in preventing osteoporosis. Already existing osteoporosis could be slowed down somewhat by adequate intake, as a study suggests.
- The mineral regulates important messenger substances that also play a role in the mental mood. Studies show that magnesium can have a similar effect on mild depression as certain antidepressants , the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Overall, these and similar studies provide strong indications that an adequate supply of magnesium, including through dietary supplements, is associated with a lower risk of numerous common diseases.