What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in your body (after calcium, phosphorus, and sulfur); about 60% of that is located in your bones, with the rest in your muscles and soft tissues.
All that magnesium does a lot of work. It’s a key co-factor (“helper molecule”) in more than 600 vital biochemical reactions and transport activities, from energy production, nervous system function, and electrolyte/fluid balance to mood, glucose metabolism, and muscle activity—including the heart.
Yet magnesium deficiency is startlingly common in the US—researchers estimate that 50%-90% of American adults are deficient to some degree, especially women, African-Americans, and seniors.
Magnesium is used throughout your body:
How to Get the Magnesium You Need
Magnesium is absorbed in your small intestine, and then stored in your cells for ready use; any excess is excreted in your urine.
To maintain optimal levels, you need a regular supply of magnesium in your diet. Think fiber—in food, fiber-rich and magnesium-rich go together. Look for:
Taking a magnesium supplement can be another good way to get your magnesium. There’s no “best” time to take it, though if you want to capitalize on magnesium’s calming effects, you could take it right before bed. If you’re taking a prescription medication—especially antibiotics, diuretics, or for blood pressure—check with your healthcare professional before you start a magnesium supplement.
Magnesium is a rock-star mineral in your body. Find out more from the sources we consulted for this article.
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Franziska Spritzler, “10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Magnesium,” Healthline.com, 9/3/18. Accessed 1/28/19.
Neil Lava, “Reasons You May Have Brain Fog,” WebMD.com, 12/4/18. Accessed 1/28/19.
Qi Dai, et al., “Magnesium Status and Supplementation Influence Vitamin D Status and Metabolism: Results from a Randomized Trial,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 108(6), Dec. 2018. Accessed 1/28/19.
Ryan Raman, “What Does Magnesium Do for Your Body?” Healthline.com, 6/9/18. Accessed 1/28/19.
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WebMD, “Magnesium,” undated. Accessed 1/28/19.
William Cole, “Magnesium Supplements: Everything You Need to Know About Deficiency, Supplements, Foods & More,” MindBodyGreen.com, undated. Accessed 1/28/19.