Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in your body; it’s important for maintaining healthy functionality across almost every system in your body. Low magnesium levels can be linked to high blood pressure, reduced cognitive abilities, excess activity between neurons, and lowered protection against excess glucose levels. While magnesium is easily available in many foods like leafy vegetables and nuts, many people also take magnesium oxide as a beneficial supplement that helps keep magnesium at a stable and healthy level. People with a grain-heavy diet, common among western cultures, should consider using magnesium oxide to boost their magnesium levels, as grains do not contain much magnesium. Beware, when taking a magnesium supplement, to not take more than the recommended dose (which is typically between 200 and 400mg), as it can cause cramping, diarrhea, and other stomach issues.
Magnesium’s role in the body is as an electrolyte; electrolytes helps maintain healthy hydration and fluid balance in the body. It’s also a critical cofactor for enzymes, meaning that it can help activate and support enzyme activity in the body. In fact, magnesium is a necessary component in enzyme activity in over 300 different pathways and systems in your body. Magnesium oxide is often taken in conjunction with calcium; calcium tends to constipate, while magnesium can lead to diarrhea, so the two are often mutually beneficial for keeping the gastrointestinal system in order.
Magnesium is also important for keeping your brain cells healthy and functional when they aren’t in use. This means that whenever your neurons aren’t firing, magnesium helps them rest and preserves their functionality. This is why magnesium deficiencies are often a cause of hyperactivity; without magnesium available to “calm them down”, so to speak, your neurons will fire when they aren’t needed, causing excess stress on your brain cells. If your cells constantly fire, regardless of whether or not they are needed, it can lead to neurotoxicity, which can be very damaging indeed.
Magnesium also plays a critical role in preventing or slowing the progression of depression. People with depression are very likely to have lower magnesium levels than non-depressed people; in fact, up to 77% people with Major Depression have lower magnesium levels than people without depression. One study that took magnesium away from the daily diet of rats showed that the rats would soon begin to exhibit symptoms congruent with depression and anxiety. In fact, some anti-depressants like sertraline work, in part, by increasing magnesium levels. Magnesium can also be beneficial for fighting migraines; a 2009 study revealed that vascular headaches are closely tied to low magnesium levels. A separate study showed that dosing migraine patients with magnesium could alleviate migraine symptoms in some, though not all, participants.
Magnesium has also been linked to controlling ADHD. In one study of children with ADHD, 95% of the participants were shown to have magnesium deficiency. Another study showed that non-ADHD children had more magnesium present in their saliva than children with the condition. These studies paved the way for a trial of magnesium supplementation on ADHD-afflicted children; the results showed that hyperactivity decreased significantly.
While magnesium is best known as a preventative supplement for depression, ADHD, and overall health, it can also have cognition boosting abilities. In a study conducted on rats, magnesium administered on a daily basis over the course of one month resulted in increased memory storage, both short-term and long-term, in both young and elderly rats. Elderly rats also saw improved recall of memory and working short-term memory. Magnesium can help you sleep better, as well. Magnesium has been shown to impact the quality of sleep by increasing slow-wave sleep and decreasing sleeping cortisol levels in the elderly.
Anyone looking to quit smoking might be interested in upping their magnesium intake, as well; in one study, participants who took magnesium daily were able to smoke fewer cigarettes on a daily basis after a month of treatment.
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