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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of the main causes of the condition are:
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:
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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|
Magnesium is also useful to relieve certain health conditions, and the dosage of the mineral varies based on the condition.
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.
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
Other than those suffering from hypomagnesemia, the supplements are also given to individuals with health conditions such as:
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.
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.
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:
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“Nutrition can be compared to a chain in which all essential items are separate links. We know what happens if one link of a chain is weak or is missing. The whole chain falls apart,” says Patrick Wright, the famous researcher on food-related diseases. Micronutrients are small but vital links that hold our system together. Let's get into how you can incorporate them into your diet to make it wholesome and nutritious.
The human body is a complicated network of systems that are remarkably integrated by tiny links that can snap due to malnourishment.
Micronutrients, which include vitamins and minerals, provide the necessary strength and resilience to these strategic links and help your system sustain a healthy metabolism without any breakdown.
They give a boost to the immune system by repairing cellular damages.
Micronutrients are required in small quantities by our bodies but are essential for the growth, development, and normal functioning of the various systems.
However, a mere look at the long list of vitamins and minerals, their functions, food sources, and the outcomes of their deficiencies can send you into a tizzy.
The salient features that you have to remember are that vitamins and minerals perform several vital functions in your body, and hence, they are part of the essential nutrients that your diet should contain.
The best way to intake vitamins and minerals is through diet only.
The key word with regard to your intake should be moderation.
Anything, however essential it is, when consumed in excess, could unsettle the balance by giving rise to complications.
Vitamins are known as organic substances as they are produced by plants and animals.
There are 13 essential vitamins that are classified as water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble.
All the eight B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 & B12) and vitamin C are water-soluble vitamins.
Vitamins A, D, E & K are the fat-soluble vitamins.
As the water-soluble vitamins are easily excreted from the body through urine, you have to consistently include them in your daily diet to obtain their benefits.
Fats and lipids aid the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins by the body.
However, the excess storage of these vitamins could lead to complications.
Fruits and green & leafy vegetables, milk, eggs, and other dairy products, meat, fish, mushrooms, cereals, nuts and seeds, and whole grains are the primary sources of vitamins.
It is essential for you to understand that a certain percentage of vitamins, especially the water-soluble ones, are lost in the process of cooking due to exposure to heat.
Hence, steaming or grilling could be a healthier way to cook your food for preventing the loss of nutrition.
Each vitamin has its own specific crucial function:
To experience the world of benefits offered by these wonder vitamins, all you need to do is to include them in tiny quantities in your daily diet.
While it is a fact that we require micronutrients in small quantities, let us never overlook the reality that the lack of micronutrients can result in serious health issues.
The deficiency of vitamins can prove disastrous to your body.
Lack of vitamins in your diet will lead to primary deficiencies.
Secondary deficiencies occur when your system is unable to absorb or utilize the vitamins due to certain sedentary habits.
Osteoporosis, vision impairments, skin infections, toothaches, and bleeding gums are a few of the common complications resulting from vitamin deficiencies.
Minerals are inorganic substances that are absorbed from the earth through soil and water by plants and animals.
The functioning of bones, muscles, heart, and brain depends on your intake of minerals.
Minerals are also crucial for making enzymes and hormones.
There are about 50 minerals that our body stores in varying amounts.
They are classified into macro-minerals and trace minerals.
The body requires macro-minerals in larger quantities in contrast to trace minerals
The macro-minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur.
You need calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium in good quantities to keep your bones healthy.
Intake of sodium, chloride, and potassium helps bring about a balance of water in your body.
The regular consumption of sulfur strengthens the protein structures in the hair, skin, and nails.
The trace minerals include iron, copper, chromium, fluoride, iodine, manganese, selenium, and zinc.
Iron transports oxygen throughout your body, fluoride prevents tooth decay, copper helps in the formation of enzymes, and zinc sharpens your ability to taste and smell.
Minerals are absorbed by the bloodstream and are excreted by the kidneys like the water-soluble vitamins.
However, excess consumption of one mineral might impair your body’s ability to absorb another mineral.
This could result in mineral imbalance or deficiency.
This kind of imbalance occurs mostly due to overloads caused by supplement usage.
Most of us remain unaware of the fact that excess intake of sodium through processed foods or in the form of table salt can lead to calcium deficiency.
When there is a rise in sodium levels, your body receives a signal to excrete the excess sodium.
As calcium always binds with excess sodium, you automatically lose calcium as well.
Thus, indiscriminate consumption of processed foods will eventually lead to calcium deficiency and bone disorders.
Similarly, excess phosphorus will hamper your body’s ability to absorb magnesium that is essential for enzyme activation and functioning of the muscles and nerves.
Minerals also interact with vitamins, as in the case of vitamin C, that helps you absorb iron more efficiently.
Food sources rich in minerals include egg, meat, milk, cheese, cereals, dried fruits, nuts, vegetables, beans, banana, orange, melons, salt, etc.
Do you know that the food that you consume has a greater impact on the overall performance of your genes and DNA?
Genetic research has shown that individual genetic variations greatly influence the assimilation, metabolization, storage, and excretion of micro and macro-nutrients.
Right now there's no magic pill that can reset your genetic makeup, but it doesn't mean that you are stuck with your genetic profile either.
Genetic testing helps in analyzing an individual’s genome that can predict how effectively his/her body can absorb and assimilate the food items that the individual consumes along with the chemicals that are present in them.
You can counter-balance your genetic risk for certain deficiencies and health conditions through a personally tailored diet and other healthy lifestyle choices.
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