How magnesium can boost your health

Did you know most people don't get enough magnesium? Find out what the health benefits of magnesium can be.

How magnesium can boost your health

Do you get enough magnesium?

Although little heralded, magnesium may be one of the most important health-promoting minerals. Studies suggest that besides enhancing some 300 enzyme-related processes in the body, magnesium may help prevent or combat many chronic diseases. The average person's body contains just 25 grams (one ounce) of magnesium, but this small amount is vital to a number of bodily functions. Many people do not have adequate stores of magnesium, often because they rely too heavily on processed foods, which contain very little of this mineral. In addition, magnesium levels are easily depleted by stress, certain diseases or medications, and intense physical activity.

Conditions it fights

  • Asthma attack severity
  • Constipation
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Migraines
  • Muscle cramps
  • Osteoporosis

Magnesium for constipation

Magnesium is a superb laxative, as anyone who's gulped down some Milk of Magnesia can attest. If you're really backed up, a magnesium supplement can help. Try 150 to 300 milligrams twice daily.

How magnesium helps various bodily functions

Magnesium helps keep muscles, nerves, and even arteries relaxed. It appears to lower blood pressure and has also been found to aid recovery after a heart attack by widening arteries, inhibiting blood clots, and normalizing dangerous arrhythmias. It expands airways, which aids in the treatment of asthma and bronchitis.

Magnesium is also involved in bone and tooth formation. And preliminary studies suggest that an adequate intake may prevent Type 2 diabetes by helping cells use insulin. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University measured magnesium levels in more than 12,000 people who did not have diabetes and tracked them for six years. Those with the lowest magnesium levels had a 94 percent greater chance of developing the disease than those with the highest levels.

Tips for taking magnesium supplements

  • The RDA for magnesium is 350 milligrams for men and 280 milligrams for women daily. Higher doses are required for disease prevention or treatment, as well as for women who take oral contraceptives.
  • If you're taking magnesium supplements, be sure to take calcium supplements as well. Imbalances in the amounts of these two minerals can minimize their beneficial effects.
  • Research shows that magnesium citrate is the form most readily absorbed by the body. Magnesium oxide may be the least expensive, but it's also the most poorly absorbed.

Foods that contain magnesium

  • Whole-groat buckwheat flour
  • Trail mix, with chocolate chips, salted nuts, and seeds
  • Oat bran
  • Bulgur
  • Semisweet chocolate chips
  • Halibut
  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Pearled barley
  • Whole-grain cornmeal
  • Pumpkin seeds, roasted
  • Navy beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Almonds
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