For the proper functioning of the human body, you must fulfill the daily dietary requirement of the body. You may have heard of macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, which are made of elements like carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and potassium.
But did you know about minerals that allow your body to function properly? One of the most important minerals is Magnesium for the brain health of every individual.
Before we talk about all the different advantages of adding this metal element to your diet, you need to know what it is and how our body uses it. So let’s get right into the details!
What is Magnesium?
If you know anything about Chemistry, it’s quite likely that you’ve heard of this element. Magnesium is an alkaline earth metal that falls in the 2nd group of the periodic table. In its solid, metallic state, magnesium is soft, shiny, and extremely reactive. But how could consuming such a reactive metal be any good for the body?
That’s because we don’t eat it in its original form. Magnesium, like any other alkaline earth metal, can lose its two outer valence electrons to form an ion with a +2 charge. In this ionic state, the atom is soluble in water and harmless to the body.
To bring it into this ionic state, it is reacted with other elements to create different forms of magnesium supplements, like magnesium sulfate and magnesium glycinate that are safe to consume.
In essence, magnesium is a mineral, similar to Calcium, and that allows the enzymes in our body to function properly. An increased risk for many mental health issues occurs due to low magnesium levels, making magnesium supplements necessary.
Many healthy foods contain this element in them, and if your dietary intake consists of nuts and leafy greens, then you won’t need any magnesium supplementation. If you want to enhance your learning ability, opt for these supplements that can help you study better.
Medical Conditions Associated with Magnesium Deficiency
Slacking on your daily magnesium intake can predispose you to certain disorders.
According to a study, people that are prone to having migraines have lower levels of magnesium in their body and are deficient, especially at the time of a migraine attack.
The reason for decreased magnesium levels in the blood can be many; stress, anxiety, poor diet, genetic factors, etc. One of the most common reasons for poor absorption of magnesium by the gut is Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Consuming more alcohol in your diet may also reduce this mineral’s levels.
When you have less than adequate magnesium levels, the risk for chronic migraine attacks is much higher. That’s because a lack of this ion allows the calcium in brain cells to bind with certain receptors that induce headaches.
Stroke is a very dangerous medical condition that could be life-threatening if not treated timely. The main cause of stroke is high blood pressure which causes damage to the cerebral blood vessels. This causes the deposition of fats and plaques in the vessel, narrowing it until it’s completely occluded, leading to stroke.
The most common symptoms of a stroke include unilateral weakness of the body, dizziness, difficulty in speaking, and severe headache. Medical attention is required immediately if you or any of your loved ones experience these symptoms.
The role of magnesium is to work alongside calcium and potassium to lower the systolic blood pressure by as much as 11 mm of mercury. It is also important to have a diet that isn’t high in sodium, which is the main culprit of hypertension.
Any stroke patient or people trying to control their blood pressure should not rely on magnesium supplementation alone. Instead, try to live a stress and anxiety-free lifestyle and eat healthy foods that contain different forms of magnesium as well as other important minerals in them.
According to a study, people that had Alzheimer’s disease lacked adequate levels of magnesium in their cerebrospinal fluid and their hair, despite having normal serum levels.
While there doesn’t exist concrete evidence on the effects of this mineral on preventing Alzheimer’s disease, this is an indication of its importance in normal brain functions.
Beneficial Effects of Magnesium for Brain Health
While it’s true that magnesium does lower the risk for certain psychiatric disorders, there are proven benefits that are linked to higher levels of this mineral in the diet. Magnesium is especially beneficial for men of any age due to system-wide biochemical involvement.
Magnesium is called the “Great Relaxer”, mainly due to its effects on relaxing the mind, muscles, and nerves. It is advised to patients suffering from anxiety, stress, and insomnia as a treatment option. Due to its laxative effects, it is also prescribed to patients suffering from constipation.
Magnesium L-threonate can cross the blood-brain barrier and work with calcium to optimize the conduction of nerve impulses in the brain. This mineral has proven to increase synaptic plasticity and density, leading to better cognitive functions and synaptic transmissions.
Recommended Daily Intake
According to a study, almost half of all Americans have a magnesium deficiency, increasing their chances of brain diseases.
But before you start racking up on magnesium ions, make sure that you know how much of this element your body needs daily. Excessive magnesium levels can pose some adverse effects, so make sure to keep tabs on your dietary magnesium intake.
- Birth to 6 months: 30mg
- 7 to 12 months: 75mg
- 1 to 3 years: 80mg
- 4 to 8 years: 130mg
- 9 to 13 years: 240mg
- 14 to 18 years: 410mg for males, 360mg for females
- 19 to 30 years: 400mg for males, 310 mg for females
- 31 years and older: 420mg for males, 320mg for females
Best Food Sources for Magnesium
The best way to get adequate amounts of magnesium is through your diet. According to the National Institutes of Health, the following foods have high levels of magnesium in them:
- Nuts and seeds
- Green vegetables
- Whole-grain products
- Low-fat dairy products and soy
- Dark chocolate and cocoa products
While these aren’t the only foods that have magnesium content, try to add some of these to your daily diet to get adequate magnesium intake.
If your diet doesn’t consist of any of these foods, you’re at risk of magnesium deficiency. If that’s the case — taking supplements that contain magnesium citrate or magnesium oxide can be a good alternative. Some supplements can even help you focus better.
However, if your dietary magnesium intake fulfills your physical requirements, then magnesium supplements won’t have any additional health benefits.
The unwanted side effect of taking excessive magnesium in your diet, especially through magnesium supplements, is diarrhea. People with kidney diseases should also avoid taking supplements as it could put unnecessary pressure on the kidneys.
Having an adequate intake of magnesium in your diet or through supplementation can provide you with a wide range of benefits. For older people, magnesium for brain health is extremely important as it is believed to reduce the risk of dementia and other mental issues.
Always remember to fulfill your daily intake of magnesium through healthy whole foods, and only rely on supplements unless it’s absolutely necessary.