1. Magnesium is a mineral that is essential to the human body, necessary for the development, health and maintenance of most of the body’s vital structures, organs and systems. In addition to its many basic functions, magnesium has proven useful in the prevention and treatment of a number of common diseases and health conditions. Despite the many health benefits of magnesium, most people are not getting as much as they should from diet alone. While true deficiency is rare in developed nations, insufficiency is fairly common and can have wide ranging effects on health and well-being.

    General Functions

    Magnesium is necessary for the function of every organ in the body, including the heart, muscles and kidneys. Magnesium aids in transporting potassium, calcium and other ions into the cells, substances that conduct nerve impulses to aid in muscle contraction and regulate heart rhythm. By participating in more than 300 essential metabolic reactions, magnesium helps in energy production and the synthesis of proteins and carbohydrates. Magnesium also helps regulate levels of other essential nutrients in the body, such as vitamin D, calcium, zinc, copper and potassium.

    Cardiovascular Health

    According to University of Maryland Medical Center, studies suggest an association between increased dietary intake of magnesium and lower risk of cardiovascular disease and sudden cardiac death. Magnesium is commonly used in the treatment of congestive heart failure and is often given intravenously to hospital patients to aid the prevention of cardiac arrhythmia. UMMC also states that results of a large clinical study indicate that increased magnesium intake may reduce the risk of high blood pressure in women, and a few studies have suggested that magnesium supplements may help lower blood pressure.

    Brain and Nervous System Health

    Low levels of magnesium in the body can affect the central nervous system, contributing to anxiety, depression and irritability, among other conditions. According to UMMC, getting enough magnesium in the diet can increase the effectiveness of conventional treatment for depression, since low magnesium levels affect the production of brain chemicals, and a 2008 study found magnesium as effective as some antidepressant drugs in treating depression.

    Bone Health

    Magnesium helps the body absorb calcium, potassium and vitamin D, nutrients that are essential to bone health. According to Linus Pauling Micronutrient Information Center, a number of studies have shown a link between increased magnesium intake and greater bone strength and mineral density, factors that reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.

    Other Health Benefits of Magnesium

    Magnesium has shown promise in the treatment or prevention of a number of other health conditions. Among these are premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, migraines and restless leg syndrome. Magnesium is routinely used in the treatment of preeclampsia in pregnant women, a condition characterized by a sharp increase in blood pressure that can lead to seizures and other serious complications. According to UMMC, there is some evidence that magnesium may aid in the control of blood sugar and insulin resistance in diabetics, as well as reducing pain and tenderness associated with fibromyalgia.

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