Being one of the top 5 abundant minerals in the human body and involved in over 600 reactions, magnesium is often the overlooked and ‘taken-for-granted’ type of mineral. The spotlight is often taken over by calcium and phosphorous. In fact, the importance of magnesium is so less known that about 48% of Americans fall deficit when it comes to daily magnesium intake. Studies have shown magnesium deficiency as a cause of several chronic conditions. So, if this mineral’s that important, what exactly does it do in the body?

Getting to know the mineral

The benefits magnesium offer to the body is not limited to one organ. They help in regulating diverse biochemical processes such as nerve function, blood pressure regulation. Some of the essential functions are given below:

Magnesium-in-action in the brain

The indispensable function of magnesium is their role in regulating signals between the brain and the rest of the body. Additionally, they take residence in the NMDA receptors of brain cells. By doing so, they prevent them from being excited unnecessarily and reduces the risk of brain damage. They can also calm down neural activity when it’s time to sleep, so you get a restful night. 

Supervising psychological well-being

When it comes to mental health, the importance of magnesium goes understated. By regulating brain signals and coordinating mood, the mineral keeps our psychological health in check. Several studies have shown the link between low levels of magnesium and increased risk for depression. In fact, restoring the magnesium levels in the body almost reversed depression, suggesting their role as an anti-depressant.  

Keeping the heart healthy

For your heart to keep beating, the muscles will need to contract and relax in a rhythmic fashion. While the contraction is taken care of by calcium, it is magnesium that relaxes the muscles after each contraction. This helps in maintaining steady heart rhythm. Magnesium also lowers blood pressure levels and reduces the risk of several heart conditions. 

Maintaining blood sugar levels

The main role of magnesium when it comes to blood sugar is insulin regulation. They transport sugar from the blood into the cells for storage. Low levels of this mineral, therefore, increases blood sugar levels and causes type 2 diabetes.

Hypomagnesemia: Being magnesium deficient

Magnesium is usually present in abundant quantities in the body. But, when their levels go down, and we do not get the required magnesium intake by food, it leads to hypomagnesemia.

Causes of hypomagnesemia

Some of the main causes of the condition are:

Manifestations of hypomagnesemia: Symptoms

The symptoms of Hypomagnesemia vary depending on the progression of the condition. 

Early symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:

If not corrected in time, this leads to more severe symptoms that include:

Combating hypomagnesemia

Most commonly, oral supplements are prescribed for hypomagnesemia. Taking magnesium-rich foods are an alternative. When the deficiency is below 1.25 mg/dL, magnesium salts are given. Twice the dose of the mineral is administered to those with normal renal function, as 50% of it will be excreted in the urine.  For those, who have excessive hypomagnesemia that cannot be managed with supplements alone, an IV or IM of magnesium will be given. Particularly, magnesium sulfate in 5% D/W at the rate of 1 g/hour as a slow infusion for up to 10 hours will be given.

Genetics and magnesium: Asking your DNA

Like other minerals and vitamins, the levels of magnesium in the body are influenced by the gene variants you carry. Several genes are involved, of which we'll discuss two:

TRPM6 gene

TRPM6 gene, located on chromosome 9, is short for transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily M member 6. It regulates the entry of magnesium ions into the cell by creating a protein channel. They are primarily present in the large intestine, kidneys, and lungs. When there's requirement for magnesium, the channel promotes the entry of ions into the cell. If there's a mutation in this gene, the entry of magnesium will be affected, causing a fluctuation in their levels.

Variants of TRPM6 gene and magnesium levels

Research is presently ongoing to understand the gene variants of TRPM6. Several studies have shown few variants in the TRMP6 gene that influence the channel activity, Of particular interest is one variant, a T to C transition. This variant has been shown to enhance the function of the channel. This allows more magnesium ions into the cell.

CASR gene

The CASR gene, also called the calcium-sensing receptor gene, instructs the synthesis of the 'calcium sensing receptor' protein (CaSR). Located on chromosome 3, this gene is primarily concerned with maintaining calcium levels in the body. However, studies have shown that this gene also affects the levels of magnesium. Particularly, the gene influences the handling of magnesium in the kidney.

Variants of CASR gene and magnesium levels

Studies are underway to understand the CaSR-mediated interactions between calcium and magnesium homeostasis. A genome-wide association study was conducted to decipher the genetic variations influencing serum calcium and magnesium levels. The study revealed that a particular variant, an A to G transition, was associated with higher serum magnesium levels in the population.

Knowing magnesium requirements

Of the total magnesium present in the body, 50-60% is found in the bones, 1% in blood, and the rest in soft tissues. The levels vary widely between individuals based on age. The following table shows the amount of magnesium required, categorized based on age group.

AgeMaleFemale
Birth to 6 months 30 mg 30 mg
7 to 12 months 75 mg 75 mg
1 to 3 years 80 mg 80 mg
4 to 8 years 130 mg 130 mg
9 to 13 years 240 mg 240 mg
14 to 18 years 410 mg 360 mg
19 to 30 years 400 mg 310 mg
31+ years 420 mg 320 mg

Attuning the dose for different needs

Magnesium is also useful to relieve certain health conditions, and the dosage of the mineral varies based on the condition.

Dosage to maintain mental health

Dosage for other conditions

Taking Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium supplements improve a range of health markers. Since the body cannot make this mineral, it can be obtained by consuming magnesium-rich foods or taking supplements.

Types of magnesium supplements

Magnesium supplements are available in different forms. Before deciding on a supplement, it is important to know more about its absorption rate or how well it is suitable as per your body type

Who's in need for the supplements?

Other than those suffering from hypomagnesemia, the supplements are also given to individuals with health conditions such as:

When’s the best time to take them? 

Though one can take magnesium any time during the day, some studies report that taking these supplements in the evening is beneficial as it helps in relaxing the body and improving sleep quality. 

Downsides of the supplements

Magnesium supplements are generally considered to be safe. However, if an individual has any existing medical condition, he/she must consult with their doctor to prevent any cross reaction with other medications.

High doses can result in nausea, vomiting, dehydration, and diarrhea. Also, those with kidney diseases are more likely to suffer from the side effects.

Diet: Choosing magnesium-rich foods

The best way to increase magnesium levels and maintain optimum dietary intake is by eating foods that are rich in magnesium. Some of these include:

References

  1. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
  2. https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/electrolyte-disorders/hypomagnesemia
  3. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/TRPM6#synonyms
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5047867/
  5. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/CASR#location
  6. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/99/2/E363/2537245

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The multi-tasking woman of today, who takes pride in juggling both domestic and professional commitments simultaneously, has unwittingly allowed stress to get the better of her. While it’s true that everyday life has become a hassle to many, a woman’s response to the demands of modern life often takes a heavy toll on her mind and body.

Stress and its impact

Stress can be defined as the response of an individual to a stimulus. The response, be it positive or negative, has an impact on the mental and physical well-being of the individual. During the process of a physical response to a situation that is loaded with threat or danger, the nervous system triggers the defence mechanisms through release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in one’s body as it prepares for an emergency action.

We have heard it often – that stress is not always bad and in fact it helps an individual to perform better and motivates him to excel. However, in the context of modern life accompanied by challenges of unrealistic goals and deadlines, broken relationships, unhealthy competitions and frustrations, stress is more often recognised as a negative response that demands a heavy price from one’s mind and body.

Stress is like spice – in the right proportion it enhances the flavour of a dish. Too little produces a bland, dull meal; too much may choke you”, says Donald Tubesing, the famous writer who has authored several books on stress management.

Even as stress helps individuals to rise up to the occasion and meet challenges, beyond a certain point it unleashes a negative impact that damages the physical, mental and behavioural aspects of life and dilutes its quality. Response to stress varies from individual to individual. The variation in is more pronounced between men and women. A woman caught in the nightmarish whirlpool of work-life balance, gradually gets used to a stressful routine on a daily basis thereby enabling chronic stress caused due to factors related to family, finance, work, relationships etc., to creep on her. Compounding to the negative impact is the stress caused by internal factors like pessimistic attitude, low-esteem, unreasonable expectations etc., Unable to bear the overload of stress, a woman’s body and mind wilt under the pressure, releasing warning symptoms.

Watch out for these manifestations

Instead of crumbling under the pressure of stress, what can a woman do to shield herself against the damages caused by stress? Always remember that an individual’s ability to withstand stress and overcome its pressures is hugely dependent upon factors like her general outlook on life, emotional intelligence, her relationships and genetics.

It is imperative for women to understand that stress management is all about acquiring control over the physical, mental and emotional aspects of their lives. A woman, who intends to decrease her stress level, if not totally eliminate it, should take concrete steps to improve the quality of her life.

The genetic angle

Genetic studies now indicate that acute stress can alter the activity and control of one’s genes by altering the methylation of DNA. The stress-induced genetic expressions that are responsible for making an individual prone to illnesses are also likely to be passed on to the next generation through a process known as epigenetic inheritance. It is of paramount importance that a woman understands all the implications of becoming a victim of stress. Stressful experiences not only affect her mind and body, but also affect her genes which she, in all probability, would transmit to her children. Researchers say that epigenetic inheritance can make individuals predisposed to stress and make them less resilient in their response to stress. This leads to the onset of chronic diseases.

The all important key to one’s happiness in life depends on his or her ability to overcome stress. As a woman, if you feel that stress is inevitable in your life, you have a choice as to whether you want to let it impact your health or not. By adopting the right attitude one can convert the negative impact of stress into a positive one. Undue worry and stress not only add to tomorrow’s woes but also wipe away the peace and happiness that one is blessed with today!

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