Do you find it difficult to keep up with all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy? It seems every day there is something new to worry about, and decide whether it’s time to make diet or lifestyle changes. Take magnesium for instance. It is needed for a host of bodily functions, including maintaining a healthy balance of calcium to avoid blood clots. So what exactly is magnesium and why is it so important to our body’s chemistry? Let’s start with the basics. (1,2)
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is naturally occurring in the sea, rock, plant matter and human cells. Magnesium ions are known as enzyme co-factors, used to regulate over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It is the second most prevalent element in our cells, and the fourth most prevalent positively charged element. Magnesium fosters enzyme activity, so we can perform literally thousands of bio-chemical processes. (1,2)
What Does It Do?
Magnesium is responsible for energy production and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which stores energy in our cells. Magnesium is what’s called a macro-mineral, and the average human body has about 25 grams of magnesium. It is one of the six essential minerals we get through our diet because our bodies can’t produce it on our own. When we take in magnesium properly it breaks down and forms magnesium ions. Ions are positively charged, allowing magnesium to regulate cells creating vital chemical reactions. (1,2)
Is Magnesium Only Available Through Food?
While we do get magnesium through our diets, we can also take supplements to reach our recommended daily intake. Women require 310-320 mg while men should get 400-420 mg. (3)
A popular supplement is magnesium chloride, because it is water soluble it can be absorbed quite quickly. However, a diet containing magnesium-rich foods is important. Be sure to include leafy greens, whole grains, seeds, oat bran, beans, oats, nuts, and fish. (3,4)
What Are Nutrients?
The body uses nutrients to assist with body functions providing either energy, building blocks or elements that help regulate functions. Magnesium is a regulator, allowing proper function for enzymes and our body’s chemical reactions. (1,2)
What Are Enzymes?
Enzymes allow the body to function and support life. Chemical reactions act as triggers helping the body do things like break down sugar in the digestive system. We need our enzymes for these chemical reactions because they create the right conditions such as heat or acidity. These conditions make completing functions without damaging our organs and tissues possible. However, complicating things further, enzymes need help from enzyme co-factors which help regulate their functions and control reaction rates. The co-factors let the enzymes know when to start and stop activity throughout the body. Which brings us back in an artful circle to magnesium, a prevalent co-factor assisting with: (1,2)
- Glucose and fat breakdown
- Production of proteins, enzymes and antioxidants
- DNA/RNA creation
- Cholesterol production regulation
These are all vital functions. If we didn’t have enzyme co-factors such as hormones and magnesium, the body couldn’t perform these reactions properly interfering with our health. (1,2)
What Happens Without Enough Magnesium?
A magnesium deficiency negatively impacts our level of healthy function. It is necessary for energy production and the molecule ATP which contributes to the following actions: (5)
- Muscle fiber contraction
- Protein synthesis
- Cell reproduction
- Transport of substances across the cell barrier
ATP fuels cell activity and without it the body can’t run. Mitochondria converts glucose, fatty acids, or amino acids into ATP. However, if you have a magnesium deficiency you can’t metabolize usable energy. (5)
—-> Editor’s Note: When supplementing consider a topical magnesium to avoid stomach upset and to maximize absorption, this is our recommendation and what I personally use myKore Essentials Pure Magnesium
ATP And Magnesium AKA MgATP
Magnesium combined with ATP forms MgATP units required for a long list of duties including: (1,2,5)
- Sustaining movement
- Performing cell maintenance
- Maintaining healthy balance of minerals inside and outside our cells
The two work together effecting nerve transmission and calcifying tissues and blood vessels. But these functions can only happen with adequate magnesium levels. (1,2,5)
Without sufficient magnesium in our bodies, DNA synthesis slows. DNA is the body’s genetic code, allowing us to build proteins and reproduce cells. Cell reproduction is important for health, and each cell type renews at various rates. If DNA isn’t stabilized with magnesium, it can lead to mutations and impact proper cellular function. Magnesium both stabilizes DNA structure and repairs DNA damage. Along with ATP it also assists in healthy RNA production needed to read DNA and create body proteins. (6,7,8)
Our cells must maintain the right balance of mineral content. Magnesium contributes to this process known as “homeostasis” for some of our most important minerals including calcium, sodium and potassium. These minerals are vital for nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and heart rhythms. (1,2)
When mineral ions flow in and out of our cells through extra-cellular fluid, they can equalize their concentrations. Using open membrane channels, movement as well as the movement of water molecules, and small water-soluble compounds takes place. Where it gets complicated is the levels of minerals required outside and inside our sells which vary greatly. Since minerals serve many different purposes, they must be distributed based on the purpose to keep cells healthy. (1,2)
Mineral Exchange Pumps
Ions move in and out of cells maintaining healthy balance. This constant flow regulates the electrical action potential both inside and outside our cells. As a result, we maintain mineral homeostasis. The exchange pumps move calcium and sodium in and potassium and magnesium out maintaining the perfect balance. (1,2)
The “sodium-potassium” pump sends out sodium and brings in potassium. However, it can’t do its job without magnesium in the cell. If you have a magnesium deficiency too much potassium can escape from the cells and end up in your urine. As a result, potassium deficiency can occur. Therefore, in order to treat potassium deficiency, magnesium deficiency treatment is also required. (1,2)
Magnesium And Calcium
That brings us to the calcium and magnesium relationship. Magnesium regulates calcium in an ongoing competition to enter cells. Without enough magnesium we couldn’t have proper calcium balance which can lead to heart issues. Calcium promotes blood vessel contractions, while magnesium promotes dilation. As a result, magnesium keeps calcium in check to help stop it from causing blood clotting. (1,2,9)
Because magnesium regulates thousands of biochemical reactions, it is key to maintaining balance for healthy body function. With more medical researchers pointing to magnesium as a key factor for healthy, many are recommending increasing our daily magnesium intakes. (10,11)