Magnesium is one of the major elements present in our body. It is responsible for various physiological functions of the body. More than 300 enzymes are assisted by magnesium, most of which are responsible for building proteins and healthy, strong bones and regulating blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and muscle and nerve function. More than 50% of the magnesium in our body is stored in bones.
The daily recommended dietary intake of magnesium in men is 400-420 mg, and in women is 300-320 mg. Pregnant women require a slightly higher quantity of magnesium than other women, which is 350-360 mg daily.
Unlike calcium and vitamin D, magnesium is always underestimated and is never given importance. Most people don’t even know the role of magnesium in our body.
So, we will now see the importance of magnesium in our body and what happens when its levels are decreased and increased in our body.
Importance of magnesium in our body:
Magnesium is an essential element of our body. It helps in various bodily functions. It is very important for our brain and nerves.
Various functions of magnesium include-
- Regulates the blood sugar levels
- Regulates blood pressure level
- Helps in energy production
- Protein synthesis
- DNA and RNA synthesis
- Helps in muscle movement
- Regulates the nervous system
- Boost exercise performance
- Helps combat depression
- Promotes heart health
- Prevents migraine attacks
- Keeps bone healthy
- Helps provide better sleep
- Reduces anxiety
Nearly 60% of magnesium in our body is stored in our bones. The remaining magnesium is present in our muscles, soft tissues, blood and other fluids.
Magnesium (Mg) shows anti-inflammatory, anticholinergic, antihistaminic, and bronchodilator effects. Mg is also involved in the production of nitric oxide, which is responsible for vasodilation (widening of blood vessels). All these properties of magnesium help reduce the symptoms of various chronic conditions like sinusitis, asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, depression, anxiety, diabetes, high blood pressure and a lot more.
Organs that help maintain normal magnesium levels:
There are three organs that are responsible for maintaining normal levels of magnesium in our body. The normal range of magnesium in our blood is 1.7 to 2.2 mg/dL.
Intestines: There are many foods that are a rich source of magnesium. Both the small and large intestine helps to absorb this dietary magnesium to maintain a normal range of magnesium in our body.
Bones: Bones help in the storage of magnesium. Nearly 60% of magnesium is stored in our bones.
Kidneys: When there is excess magnesium in our body, it is eliminated through the kidneys, while when there is less magnesium in our body, the dietary magnesium is reabsorbed by the kidneys instead of being eliminated.
What happens when our body is magnesium deficient?
Abnormal levels of magnesium may not be noticed until it’s extremely less or high. Generally, our body maintains normal magnesium levels in our body.
A deficiency of magnesium is linked to the release of inflammatory mediators that may cause inflammatory diseases like sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, COPD, arthritis, osteoporosis, etc.
Hence, magnesium may play an important role in managing inflammatory conditions. In most cases, magnesium deficiency happens with calcium and potassium deficiency.
It can be mild to severe, depending on the magnesium levels in the blood.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency or hypomagnesaemia:
The various symptoms associated with magnesium deficiency include-
- Muscle or joint pain
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle spasm
- A sensation of pins and needles
- Nystagmus (abnormal eye movements)
The symptoms can vary from mild to severe.
Many people take calcium supplements with the wrong assumption of having calcium deficiency, whereas the body might be magnesium deficient. This happens because the deficiency of these elements shows similar symptoms, such as weakness, muscle or joint pain, muscle spasms, fatigue, a sensation of pins and needles, etc.
Dietary source of magnesium:
There are various foods that are rich in magnesium, such as-
- Green leafy vegetables like spinach, mustard leaves, kale, etc.
- Dark chocolate
- Avocados, dried figs
- Nuts- almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, peanuts
- Lentils, beans, peas, soybeans, tofu
- Seeds- flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds
- Wheat, oats, barley
- Fruits-banana, guava, papaya, blackberries, grapefruit, kiwi, etc.
What happens when there is excess magnesium in our body?
Excess magnesium in the body can lead to various health issues. Hypermagnesaemia could be due to kidney damage, which is why excess magnesium is not able to be removed through the urine.
Symptoms of hypermagnesaemia:
Hypermagnesemia can cause symptoms like-
- Muscle weakness
- Cardiovascular diseases
So, next time you feel any of these symptoms, get yourself tested for magnesium levels along with calcium and vitamin D and include foods rich in those ingredients. You can also take supplements for these.