11 reasons I started taking magnesium supplements
by Craig Cooper
A blood or urine test can be performed to test for low or deficient levels of magnesium. Abnormal levels of the mineral are most often seen in people who have a condition or disease that causes too little magnesium to be absorbed or excessive amounts to be excreted by the kidneys.
Doctors typically order a magnesium test when someone is experiencing symptoms of deficiency and/or they have severe kidney problems, uncontrolled diabetes, heart problems (including abnormal rhythms), alcoholism, malnutrition or a malabsorption condition or if someone is taking medications that can cause the kidneys to eliminate too much of the mineral.
Some experts question the accuracy of magnesium testing since only about 1 percent of the mineral in your body is found in the blood. That’s why it’s recommended you ask for the RBC (red blood cell) magnesium test, which is more accurate than a simple blood test. The normal magnesium blood level for adults is 1.8 to 2.6 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
You can help ensure more reliable test results if you tell your doctor about any over-the-counter and prescription medications you are taking. Also, do not take any medications or supplements that contain magnesium for at least three days before your test. That includes any antacids or laxatives that contain magnesium, as well as nutritional supplements and some diuretics.
Why I take magnesium
These are the 11 reasons why I make sure I now get enough magnesium in my diet, and through supplements:
1.Enhances bone strength and integrity. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals involved in promoting and maintaining bone strength and integrity. And one reason is that it stimulates calcitonin, a hormone that helps regulate calcium levels and is involved in building bone. Magnesium also suppresses the parathyroid hormone, a substance that stimulates the excretion of calcium from bones, promotes the destruction of bone and interferes with new bone formation.
2.Increases free T levels. A recent study showed that men who took magnesium supplements (10 mg/kg body weight) for four weeks experienced increases in both free and total testosterone levels. This was true both for sedentary and active men (sportsmen who practiced tae kwon do were the subjects of the study), but the increases were greater among the men who exercised.
3.Better exercise performance and recovery. Research shows that “magnesium deficiency impairs exercise performance and amplifies the negative consequences of strenuous exercise.” In addition, strenuous exercise boosts your loss of fluids (and, thus, electrolytes like magnesium), which may increase your requirement for magnesium by 10 percent to 20 percent — all the more reason to have your magnesium levels checked if you have any reason to believe you are not getting enough of this critical nutrient.
4.Improves sleep. The sleep/wake cycle is largely regulated by melatonin, and this hormone requires the assistance of magnesium to function properly. In addition, magnesium plays a significant role in controlling stress hormones. Less stress means better sleep and better performance during the day. Here is the melatonin and magnesium cream I sometimes use at night. I find it definitely works to help me sleep. However, it also gives me crazy dreams. But maybe that’s just me.
5.Calms the nervous system. Serotonin, the brain chemical and neurotransmitter that plays such a critical role in our mood, depends on magnesium. In fact, insufficient magnesium seems to result in a decline in serotonin levels.
6.Helps develop stronger muscles. Magnesium is necessary in the production of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which is necessary for healthy muscle strength and growth. The mineral also is an important part of the production of ATP, your cells’ energy source.
7.Improves flexibility. Magnesium is a key factor in muscle contraction and relaxation. Without sufficient levels of this mineral, your muscles will not relax properly, resulting in cramps. Magnesium deficiency also is associated with an accumulation of lactic acid in your muscles, causing tightness and pain.
8.Helps prevent diabetes. An adequate intake of magnesium reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by enhancing insulin secretion and, thus, controlling glucose levels. A meta-analysis of 13 studies published in Diabetes Care in 2011 supported previous findings showing that magnesium intake is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
9.Supports cardiovascular health. Numerous studies have shown that magnesium plays an integral part in heart health on several levels. For one, it helps lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Higher serum levels of magnesium are also associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, including the risk of stroke and sudden cardiac death.
10.Supports dental health. Insufficient magnesium is an invitation for tooth damage. Maintaining adequate magnesium intake supports a healthy balance of calcium and phosphorous in the saliva, which in turn keeps your teeth intact.
11.Keeps the motor running. Magnesium is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions, and enzymes are part of those activities. Magnesium is necessary to make these enzymes function properly. So without magnesium, you’d be a vehicle without spark.
Given the above, I can’t see any reason why supplemental magnesium shouldn’t be a part of every man’s nutritional program. My deficiency slipped under the radar for a long time before it was identified in a blood test. It’s not a mineral that you think about much. But for me, it’s definitely part of my health program going forward.