The Benefits of Magnesium Supplements
Awareness of possible magnesium deficiency tends not to appear too high of the radar of many people, even the health conscious. Yet it is close to being as important as some of the more well known minerals such as iron and calcium. It is required to assist with a vast number of the body's function and if there is a deficiency present, then there may be significant benefits from taking magnesium supplements.
Although deficiency may be relatively widespread amongst the community, there are subgroups of the population who would especially obtain magnesium supplement benefits. These include pregnant women and athletes. However, if you in one (or both) of these groups then it is always advisable to talk to your doctor or nutritionist before considering taking any supplements.
Where is magnesium used in the body?
It may be easier to list where it is not used as the list of functions that require its use in some form or another is immense. However, it is known to be important for
- Cardiovascular health
- Controlling blood sugar
- Controlling blood pressure
- Assisting with nerve functioning, in particular nerve conduction
- Assisting with muscle functioning
- Supporting the immune system
Magnesium and cardiovascular health
Research studies have shown that those who are deficient in the mineral are more likely to have specific heart conditions and are at greater risk of heart attacks and coronary artery diseases. There are indications that magnesium supplements may reduce cholesterol levels by up to a quarter. Other quoted benefits of supplementation for the heart include: - Reduced risk of abnormal heart rhythms - Reduced risk of stroke through regulation of blood pressure.
Magnesium for sports
Magnesium is necessary for energy metabolism through activation of particular enzymes. Exercise and activity appears to reduce the level of the mineral in the blood. It seems reasonable to hypothesise that some supplementation may be beneficial for those who have an active lifestyle or involved in sports and the results support that view. In particular, athletes who compete in endurance events may benefit from taking supplements and it is included as an ingredient in some sports drinks (although be aware that it not in all so always check the ingredients if you are specifically wanting to source the mineral through your sports drink).
If you suffer from cramping during exercise then some sports dieticians will suggest that you have a look at your intake and if deemed inadequate then you may try supplementing with magnesium to see if it reduces the number and the intensity of any exercise induced cramping.
Magnesium for pregnancy
Probably for mums-to-be the major association between magnesium levels and pregnancy are associated with preeclampsia. Low levels may be considered to be a risk factor. There have been some research trials that have indicated that a deficiency may reduce your ability to build and repair tissues (which is clearly an issue for bub as well as mum). There are indications that low weight birth weights are less likely for women who either modify their diet to increase dietary intake or take supplements. If you suffer from charley cramps during pregnancy then, along with calcium, then some pregnancy health care professionals will suggest that you take supplements that may contain magnesium (normally associated with calcium) along with ensuring that you are drinking sufficient water.
There have been estimates made that in developed countries well over 50 percent of people do not consume the recommended daily intake level of magnesium. Dieticians suggest that good sources in green leafy vegetables (such as spinach), whole grains, some nuts and some fish. The indications are that we are not getting enough in our diet for a couple of possible reasons. One is that the types of food that we are eating contain lower levels (think fast food => low levels of nutrients). The second is that even if we are eating the right types of food, there may be lower levels within the food source itself as soils become depleted. Just a word specifically on recommended dietary levels. Whilst there are quoted values of how much an average child, woman and man should have a day, the true figure can vary depending on personal circumstances and if you are concerned that you may not be getting enough magnesium in your diet then you should consult a suitably trained professional.
If your health care professional has recommended that you take the mineral in order to top up any dietary inadequacy then typically the supplement will be in the form of a magnesium salt, typically magnesium citrate supplements but sulphate, carbonate and the oxide forms are also available.
Side Effects of Magnesium
If you have any kidney problems then it may be suggested that it may be best that you not take magnesium supplements although you should always discuss such issues with your doctor. Other than that then apart from diarrhoea and/or loose stools, there are very few reported side effects associated with taking magnesium supplementation.