Magnesium is a critical mineral needed in over 600 bodily functions.
Benefits include improved blood sugar levels, muscle recovery and sleep.
It can be found in many common food sources, most notably leafy greens and dark chocolate.
Common signs of a magnesium deficiency are a lack of energy, muscle weakness and irritability.
Most urban men with a demanding career and active social life don’t consume enough magnesium through their regular diet.
Different magnesium types differ in how they are absorbed into the body, and potential benefits and side effects resulting from absorption.
The full story
Magnesium is one of the best-known minerals our bodies need to function. Although it can be found in many food sources, magnesium has become a popular mineral to supplement. Most often quoted for improving sleep quality and muscle recovery, magnesium has many benefits while a shortage could lead to serious illnesses such as heart decease and type 2 diabetes.
In this Health Guide we explain the most relevant benefits of magnesium, the best food sources for magnesium, whether you should consider taking it as a supplements and the differences between the most common magnesium supplement types.
Benefits of magnesium
One of magnesium’s primary functions is to serve as a so-called cofactor, assisting in over 600 ongoing biochemical reactions that allow our bodies to function. These reactions encompass simple, but important processes such as converting food into energy, DNA repair, muscle contraction, nervous system regulation, and many more.
Magnesium is a critical component in our bones, making up around 50% - 60% of their composition. It contributes to bone growth and strengthening. Studies have been able to link men and women with sufficient magnesium to greater bone mineral density.
Exercise, mood & sleep
Magnesium is renowned for its ability to enhance exercise performance, regulate moods, and improve sleep quality. Studies have demonstrated its positive impact on fatigue reduction, moving blood sugar into muscles and disposing of lactic acid. Additionally, magnesium plays a significant role in brain function and mental health, with lower intake associated with higher rates of depression. Magnesium also promotes better sleep quality due to its ability to regulate certain neurotransmitters and promote deeper sleep.
Blood sugar levels
Individuals with magnesium deficiencies may struggle to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Studies have highlighted magnesium’s ability to enhance insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels. In particular, an 8555-person study conducted in 2017 found an individual's risk of prediabetes increased as a result of low magnesium levels.
Magnesium can have a profoundly positive effect on our hearts, particularly in relation to blood sugar. Studies have been able to show a lower risk of heart disease, including improvements in cholesterol (LDL) levels, blood pressure, triglyceride and systolic blood pressure levels, as well as a reduced risk of stroke.
Magnesium food sources
Foods richest in magnesium:
- Leafy greens
- Dark chocolate
- Beans (black and edamame)
- Nuts (almonds, cashews and peanuts)
- Seeds (pumpkin, chia and quinoa)
- Whole grains
Should you supplement magnesium?
If you consume enough magnesium on a daily basis, there is no scientific evidence that suggests that additional magnesium supplementation provides measurable benefits. However, as a result of over-processing and over-farming, the average Western diet contains less and less vitamins and minerals (as can be read in our Health Guide about vitamines), including magnesium. Additionally, the sugar, salt and artificial additives found in processed foods can prevent our bodies from efficiently absorbing magnesium.
Where some experts claim that the average Western diet contains enough magnesium, this doesn’t account for the vast dietary differences and requirements resulting from lifestyle and life phase. Also, men require more magnesium than women due to their physiological difference. Zooming in on the average European urban man with a demanding career and active social life and corresponding diet, we found that the average daily magnesium intake is roughly 30-40% of the Reference Intake.
Best ways to check for a magnesium deficiency
It goes without saying that each body and each individual diet is different. The most obvious signs of a magnesium deficiency are a lack of energy and muscle weakness, trouble sleeping, feeling irritable and an irregular heartbeat. However, the only sure way to check your magnesium levels is to take a blood test at an orthomolecular specialist, which is generally considered the best way to discover your overall vitamin and mineral levels.
Which magnesium supplement types are there and what is the difference?
Walk into any pharmacy and you’ll find many types of magnesium supplements. The key difference between all magnesium types is how it is absorbed into the body, and potential benefits and side effects to this absorption process. Besides this, some suppliers have patented their delivery methods to improve the absorption process or reduce certain side effects.
Relevant to this article, we highlight the magnesium types most commonly used as food supplements:
- Magnesium Oxide: A combination of magnesium and oxygen molecules, this is the most commonly available and all-round form of magnesium. However, due to its low bioavailability it has to be either taken in larger amounts or protected by a (often patented) delivery system.
- Magnesium Citrate: Magnesium citrate is one of the most popular magnesium supplements due to its high bioavailability. It is often used for its laxative effects, making it beneficial for relieving constipation. Taken in high doses or longer periods of time, it might cause gastrointestinal discomfort or a laxative effect when the citric acid passed through the stomach.
- Magnesium Glycinate: Magnesium glycinate is a well-tolerated and highly absorbable form of magnesium. It is less likely to cause gastrointestinal discomfort compared to some other forms of magnesium.
- Magnesium Malate: A combination of magnesium and malic acid. It is known for its potential benefits in addressing chronic muscle pain and fatigue, making it a popular choice for individuals with fibromyalgia.
- Magnesium Taurate: Magnesium taurate is a combination of magnesium and the amino acid taurine. It may have cardiovascular benefits and is often chosen for heart health support.
- Magnesium Aspartate: Magnesium aspartate is a form of magnesium combined with aspartic acid. It is sometimes used to support energy production and athletic performance.
Numerous independent studies have shown that magnesium is vital for our body to function properly. It offers many health benefits, including improved bone health, blood sugar regulation, exercise performance, sleep and heart health. While magnesium is common in many food sources, modern lifestyles, diets and processing techniques have reduced our magnesium intake and can hinder magnesium absorption, making supplementation worth considering.
Our magnesium supplement is the patented UtraMag®, which has added an extra layer to the magnesium molecule to protect it as it passes through the stomach, preventing stomach issues and drastically improving absorption and effectiveness. It can be found in our The Essentials product, optimally dosed to supply 70% of your daily magnesium needs.
UtraMag® boasts the following advantages:
- Helps improve sleep and energy.
- Supports muscle recovery and repair.
- Supports brain functioning.
- Balances blood pressure.
- Better absorbed than other magnesium supplements.
- Reduced chance of stomach problems.
- Can be taken consistently over longer periods of time.
- Harvard - The Nutrition Source: Magnesium
- Scientific American - Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?
- PubMed - Magnesium: Biochemistry, Nutrition, Detection, and Social Impact of Diseases Linked to Its Deficiency
- NIH - Magnesium
- PubMed - Serum magnesium and the risk of prediabetes: a population-based cohort study
- HealthLine - 12 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Magnesium
- PubMed - A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on the effects of magnesium supplementation on insulin sensitivity and glucose control
- PubMed - Effect of magnesium supplementation on type 2 diabetes associated cardiovascular risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- NIH - Can Magnesium Enhance Exercise Performance?
- UltraMag.it - Sucrosomial® magnesium: Improved absorption and high tolerability