What You Need To Know About Chronic Disease and Magnesium – This Overlooked Mineral Can Ward Off 6 Critical Chronic Diseases and More
Magnesium: This Overlooked Mineral Can Ward Off 6 Chronic Diseases and More
Chronic diseases affect millions of people every year and are a leading cause of premature mortality and poor quality of life. According to an estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 in 10 American adults are now living with a chronic diseases condition. This includes type-2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, lung disease, and cancer. Thankfully, most chronic diseases can be prevented or managed with simple lifestyle adjustments and proper nutrition.
Evidence suggests that increasing your magnesium intake may be one of the most fruitful measures for health and prevention. This overlooked mineral can help maintain healthy brain function, build stronger bones, control inflammation, improve blood sugar regulation, promote healthful sleep, and whatnot!
Read on to find out more about magnesium and its role in disease (chronic diseases) prevention.
Magnesium: the most underappreciated nutrient
Magnesium is one of the essential macrominerals and the fourth most abundant mineral in the body—after calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Macrominerals are nutrients that we need in relatively larger amounts than trace minerals (like iron and zinc).
Magnesium is involved in hundreds of metabolic functions and assists the working of enzymes. It is required for energy production, nerve impulse communication, muscle protein synthesis, muscle contraction and relaxation, hormonal functions, and heartbeat control.
About 60% of the body’s magnesium reserves are inside bones; the rest are inside soft tissues like muscles, tendons, supportive tissues, ligaments, and lymph and blood vessels. Less than 1% is in the form of electrolytes that are used for carrying out muscle and nerve functions.
Role of magnesium in health and prevention
1. Improves blood sugar control and lowers the risk of type-2 diabetes
High magnesium intake has been found to lower the risk of type-2 diabetes and delay its progression in persons with prediabetes and high-risk groups. Magnesium is a cofactor (whose presence is essential) in hundreds of enzymatic actions, which also include enzymes involved in blood glucose regulation and insulin activity. A chronic diseases and deficiencies in this important mineral has been linked with impaired blood sugar control and is a significant contributor to the development of type-2 diabetes.
Apart from prevention, magnesium is particularly useful for those who already have type-2 diabetes. Research shows that taking magnesium supplements, or increasing the intake of magnesium-rich foods, may improve insulin sensitivity and stabilize blood sugar in persons with diabetes. People with uncontrolled blood sugar also lose excess magnesium in their urine, which can further worsen insulin resistance if not corrected in time.
Magnesium is also involved in lowering oxidative stress and systemic inflammation, which can reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications and other chronic diseases like kidney disease or cancer.
2. Lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke
Magnesium helps modulate various functions related to heart health, such as maintaining a steady heart rhythm, preventing cholesterol build-up inside arteries, and ensuring proper contraction and relaxation of heart muscles. It also helps keep inflammation in check and allows optimal blood flow, thus reducing blood pressure.
People with congestive heart failure are often found low in this essential mineral. On the other hand, high magnesium consumption has been linked with a lower risk of coronary artery disease and stroke.
Magnesium is also sometimes used during the treatment of congestive heart failure to stabilize the heartbeat. Evidence suggests that treatment with magnesium after a heart attack reduces the risk of mortality.
3. Strengthens bones and prevents osteoporosis
When it comes to bone health, magnesium often gets overshadowed by its more popular counterpart—calcium. But while calcium is undoubtedly the most important mineral for building a strong structure, your bones need magnesium to maintain that strength.
In addition to increasing bone mineral density, magnesium makes your bones more flexible and, therefore, less prone to fracture and brittleness. It also plays a role in the absorption and assimilation of other nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D, that contribute to higher bone mass. Evidence shows that a high intake of magnesium slows down aging-related chronic diseases, bone loss, and lowers the risk of osteoporosis—a condition that causes bones to become porous and fragile.
Osteoporosis mostly affects people above the age of 50 and is about four times more common in post-menopausal women. It is estimated that one in every two women above the age of 50 is at risk of developing osteoporosis without even knowing it. This chronic disease is due in part to the overconsumption of commercial carbonated drinks which contain phosphoric acid, a compound that draws calcium from the bone, making it more brittle.
4. Prevents migraine attacks
Migraine is a lifelong neurological condition that causes recurring episodes of disabling symptoms, which include a severe throbbing headache coupled with nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine cannot be cured; it can only be prevented by identifying potential triggers and avoiding them. Three out of every four migraine sufferers are women—and most people report experiencing an attack right before or after their periods.
Scientists do not fully understand what causes some people to develop migraine. But chronic diseases and deficiencies of magnesium is strikingly common among people with this condition. In numerous clinical trials, daily magnesium supplementation has been shown to help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches. In a 2021 trial, it was found to be as effective as valproate sodium, a medicine commonly used for migraine attack prevention. The American Migraine Foundation recommends taking magnesium oxide (in tablet form) daily to prevent migraine with aura and menstrual migraines.
Migraine headaches occur due to abnormal brain activity that affects nerve signals and causes inflammation of cerebral blood vessels. Having adequate levels of magnesium in your blood can prevent this acute situation by allowing blood vessels to relax and reducing their constriction. It is also known to block the release of chemicals responsible for pain sensation. Research shows that magnesium prevents a brain wave phenomenon called cortical spreading depression, which is associated with sensory and visual changes of pre-migraine aura.
5. Protects the brain from degenerative chronic diseases
Magnesium is one of the most important (and yet the most underrated) nutrients for proper brain functioning—and for a good many reasons. Firstly, it plays a fundamental role in nerve impulse conduction and neural communication. Secondly, many neurotransmitters and neurohormones are directly dependent on magnesium for optimal functioning and regulation.
Moreover, our cells cannot produce energy without adequate magnesium levels. Our brain, which is the hungriest and energetically most expensive organ of the body (it consumes about 20% of the total energy produced despite being only 2% of body weight), is naturally the most affected organ by even the slightest deficiency.
The most important role of magnesium is its ability to control excess glutamate—a stimulating brain chemical that helps in memory, learning, and mood. At high concentrations, glutamate can overexcite nerve cells, which can kill or damage brain cells over time. Excess glutamate has been linked with a number of neurological and mental health disorders, including schizophrenia, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, and anxiety. Studies have shown that magnesium supplementation can help protect brain cells and lower the risk of degenerative chronic diseases.
6. May help deal with mental health issues
Magnesium is heavily involved in the central nervous system, which involves regulating various neurochemicals and hormones that affect your mood and energy levels. It helps block chemicals that cause anxiety and restlessness and binds to receptors responsible for relaxation.
Optimal blood magnesium favors lower stress levels, improved sleep, and peaceful hormonal functions. It also controls the activity of hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis and ensures a proper reboot of the brain’s stress response system, which can prevent stress build-up and various chronic diseases and health issues.
Numerous studies have linked higher magnesium intake with a reduced risk of depression and anxiety disorders. Magnesium supplements have been shown to improve symptoms of major depression, postpartum depression, and chronic diseases and fatigue syndrome. Currently, it is being studied as a possible adjunctive therapy for major depression.
How to boost your magnesium intake
The daily recommended value of magnesium is 400-420 mg per day for men and 300-320 mg for women. There are several ways to improve your intake and absorption of this nutrient to help reduce and in some cases, reverse chronic diseases.
- Eat magnesium-rich foods and drinks: Increase your consumption of whole grains, cacao, nuts, seeds, coconut water, and green vegetables while minimizing the intake of processed foods.
- Take help from magnesium supplements: Not all supplements are created equal. Speak with a health expert for recommended doses and safety.
- Eliminate or minimize sugar intake: High sugar consumption can reduce the absorption of important minerals and promote excess elimination.
- Cut back on alcohol: Alcohol is known to interfere with the absorption of various essential nutrients, including vitamin D and magnesium.
- Feed and diversify your gut bacteria: A flourishing gut microbiota ensures optimal absorption and utilization of nutrients. Consider including fiber-rich foods and probiotics (like fermented foods) in your diet.
Although magnesium is often overlooked in favor of other vitamins and minerals, it plays a significant role in prevention and health promotion. Getting the recommended dose of magnesium every day—either by eating foods rich in this mineral or through supplementation—has been shown to lower the risk of various chronic diseases.
The safest way to increase your magnesium intake is by eating lots of magnesium-rich foods and limiting your alcohol consumption. It is important to note that while magnesium overdose through diet is quite unlikely, its deficiency has been linked with several short-term and long-term health problems. If you are planning to take supplements, consider speaking with your doctor about possible risks, doses, and drug interactions. I personally take this magnesium from Activation Products. Give it a try today!
Remember, “Do Something Everyday That Heal Your Body!”
To Your Health!