In the recent years, magnesium has climbed the ladder of popular food supplements – partly because of the fact that it is essential for basic physiological functions of the organism, and partly because of its availability and harmlessness.
It plays a very important role in metabolism, and a fact that it is required in the process of over 300 enzyme reactions in the human body confirms that. We require 300 to 420 mg of magnesium per day, depending on our age and sex (men require more magnesium than women).
Some of the positive aspects of this mineral are the normalization of digestion (lack of magnesium has been linked with the increased frequency of constipation, surplus of magnesium can act as a mild laxative, since it relaxes the intestinal wall and helps with retaining water in the colon), stopping migraines and muscle spasms, increased development of the musculoskeletal system, and the prevention of heart attacks.
Special benefits of magnesium are visible during pregnancy, when the needs are generally increased (women in their reproductive stage require approximately 310 mg of magnesium per day, while that number increases to 350 mg during pregnancy): it acts as a mild laxative, prevents premature uterus contractions, eases calf spasms which are frequent in the later stages of pregnancy, and can ease the migraines.
Studies show that nearly 50% of the people in the developed Western countries do not ingest the subscribed amount of magnesium through food. Being that the richest sources of magnesium are seeds, nuts, and grains, it is not surprising that their nutrition lacks this mineral, especially if we consider the fact that the typical Western nutrition is based on foods which have been industrially processed and rarely contain significant amounts of nutrients rich in magnesium. In these cases, magnesium supplements are especially useful.
Something new and backed up by science
In addition to magnesium’s roles in nutritional supplementation and the confirmation of its well- known positive effects, magnesium has lately been considered in regards to the prevention and treatment of diseases and conditions which were not linked to it until recently.
It reduces the risk of colon cancer – A new epidemiological study, published in the April edition of the Journal of Nutrition magazine, showed that magnesium also has anti-cancer properties. This study, which lasted for eight years, was conducted by the Japanese scientists on more than 87.100 people, whose average age was 57. They noticed that, although only in male participants, that consuming magnesium every day reduces the risk of colon cancer by 52%. The concentration of an active ingredient was more than 327 mg of magnesium per day.
Good news for asthmatics – American scientists from the Kenmore University claim that asthma can be partially contained through the regular intake of magnesium. In February, they have published their research in the Journal of Asthma scientific magazine. This research, conducted on 50 asthmatics between the ages of 21 and 55, lasting for six and a half months, has shown a significant improvement in the quality of life.
The measured pulmonary function, or the so-called peak-flow metro, has improved by 6 percent, while the bronchi became more resistant to the influence of bronchoconstrictors (substances that narrow down the respiratory airways) by 20 percent, which contributed to a better lung ventilation and feeling better in general. For this kind of effect, which has been achieved in the mild and moderately severe asthma cases, it was necessary to add 340 milligrams of magnesium per day.
Even against the stroke – Finnish scientists have analyzed the dietary habits of 26.556 male smokers between the ages of 50 and 69. The scientists have studied the degree of the physical activity and blood pressure levels. After almost 14 years of research, the results have shown a 15 percent lower risk of stroke in men who have been consuming the greatest amounts of magnesium (average of 589 milligrams per day), when compared to the ones that have been consuming the least amounts of magnesium (373 milligrams per day). The scientists believe that the positive effects of magnesium can be attributed to its ability to lower the high blood pressure, which is a major cause of a stroke.
Protects us from the metabolic shock syndrome and diabetes – More and more scientific studies are trying to research the relationship between magnesium and metabolic syndrome, with a special emphasis on the effect of magnesium on the regulation of glycemia. According to the recently published research, the intake of magnesium can be related to the decreased risk of the metabolic syndrome development.
Among other important bodily functions, magnesium plays a role in the regulation of glucose in the blood, blood pressure, and heart rhythm. During the course of 15 years, scientists from the Northwestern University have observed more than 4,500 young adults, and have recorded their magnesium intake while documenting the frequency of the metabolic syndrome.
After taking different lifestyle and dietary variables into consideration, the results have shown that the frequency of metabolic syndrome was the lowest in persons with the highest magnesium intake, while the persons with the lowest magnesium intake were significantly more prone to the metabolic syndrome development.
For healthy bones in adolescents – Magnesium intake in the form of food supplements during adolescence; the crucial period in the bone formation, significantly increases the bone density and can reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life, claims the recent research published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 120 healthy girls between the ages of 8 and 14, who have been consuming less than 22 mg of magnesium per day, have participated in this research.
The girls were divided into two groups. The first group received the daily magnesium supplements (300 mg), while the other group received the placebo treatment during the course of 12 months. After 12 months, a significantly greater bone marrow density in the hips of the girls who have been receiving magnesium supplements has been discovered in comparison to the girls in the placebo group.