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Does Magnesium Help Inflammation? Here’s What You Need To Know

ARTICLE BY

The GlycanAge Team

Magnesium is responsible for almost every bodily function and process, making it crucial for preserving health and human life; however, many people are deficient in this vital mineral. 

Although it is abundant in a range of foods, including dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, legumes, oats and fish, the average daily magnesium intake in the modern world is around 270mg. This amount is significantly lower than the recommended daily intake of between 300mg and 420mg, which is considered the minimal amount to prevent deficiency rather than maintain optimal health. 

Moreover, magnesium and inflammation have a bi-directional relationship. Studies confirm low magnesium levels are associated with high inflammation, while high magnesium suppresses  inflammation [1].

With inflammatory conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders and cancer on the rise, adequate magnesium levels may be one of the essential factors in countering inflammation and reducing the risk of chronic disease. 

This article explores the benefits of magnesium for body and brain health, the effect it has on inflammation, and effective ways to increase your magnesium intake through diet. 

 

Health Benefits Of Magnesium

Magnesium is found within every cell of the body and is involved in over 600 chemical reactions, yet around one in eight adults obtains less than the recommended amount, increasing the risk of deficiency and associated symptoms [2].

Over 50% of the body’s magnesium stores are found within bones, with the remaining amount stored in soft tissue and blood. 

Some of the mineral’s key roles include:

  • Regulating nerve and muscle function

  • Regulating body energy levels 

  • Balancing the nervous system

  • Contributing to normal psychological function

  • Protein synthesis

  • Providing energy to cells

  • Maintaining bone health

  • Electrolyte balance

Magnesium reduces inflammation at a cellular level. A 2017 review found that magnesium supplements significantly decreased levels of C-reactive protein, a biomarker of inflammation, in people suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions [3]. 

A deficiency can occur when an inflammatory condition manifests in the body, and ensuring magnesium levels are at optimal levels can reduce the inflammation.

Moreover, children and adults who receive less than the recommended daily amount of magnesium are twice as likely to have elevated levels of C-reactive protein compared to those who consume the recommended amount [3]. 

There are numerous ways magnesium has been proven to fight inflammation. Health benefits include:

 

Combatting stress, anxiety and depression

Because magnesium is vital to proper brain function and mood, low levels can worsen depression and anxiety, among other mental health issues.

In fact, a 2015 study analysis of over 8,000 adults found that those with the lowest magnesium intake had a 22% higher risk of depression [4].

Magnesium can help to relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression by inhibiting the activity of stimulating neurotransmitters while simultaneously binding to calming receptors to promote a relaxing state. The mineral also helps regulate the stress hormone cortisol.

One small study concluded that 500mg of daily magnesium supplement reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety in people with a deficiency [5].

 

Supporting healthy blood sugar levels

Type 2 diabetes impairs the body’s ability to balance blood sugar levels as a direct result of low-grade chronic inflammation. Studies suggest approximately half of the individuals with this condition also have low magnesium levels in their blood [6]. 

Several studies acknowledge the value of magnesium in lowering the risk or preventing type 2 diabetes by helping to enhance insulin sensitivity, which plays a key role in regulating blood glucose levels [7]. 

 

Promoting cardiovascular health

For decades, high cholesterol was believed to be the underlying cause of heart disease. However, researchers have recently discovered that chronic low-grade inflammation inside the arterial walls (atherosclerosis) is directly linked to conditions such as hypertension, thrombosis, stroke and heart attacks.

Over 700 enzymes in the body depend on adequate magnesium levels. Low magnesium interferes with enzymes working properly, including those involved in cleaning the blood of excess fibrin, which thickens the blood and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. 

The mineral also helps to counteract excess calcium levels in the body, which have been linked to numerous pro-inflammatory conditions, including acute heart failure as a result of an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia). 

 

Preventing migraine attacks

People who are prone to migraine attacks may find relief from their condition with magnesium, as some research indicates that migraine sufferers are more likely to have a deficiency in the mineral than those who do not have migraines [8].

A 2015 study found that magnesium was faster and more effective than a common prescription medication at relieving acute migraine headaches without severe side effects [9]. 

This effect may be due to magnesium blocking signals in the brain that cause migraines with an aura or changes in vision, and it may also block certain chemicals that cause pain.

 

Improving premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms 

PMS symptoms, including mood swings, irritability, fatigue, bloating, cramping and breast tenderness, are also linked with symptoms of low magnesium, and research has linked the two conditions.

Magnesium levels drop before menstruation at the same time that PMS symptoms occur, which can make it worse for those who are already operating on the bare minimum levels of magnesium.

Research suggests that supplementing with magnesium can ease PMS symptoms, including menstrual migraine attacks. For instance, 250mg of magnesium tablets helped ease symptoms of bloating, depression and anxiety in 126 women suffering from PMS after a three-month observational period when compared to the placebo group [10].

 

Preserving bone health

One of magnesium’s essential roles is ensuring bones remain strong. Low levels of the mineral can decrease bone density and lead to osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak, brittle and more susceptible to fracture.

A three-year study of 358 people undergoing haemodialysis found that those who consumed the least magnesium were three times more likely to sustain bone fractures compared to those with the highest consumption [11]. 

People with arthritis may also benefit from magnesium, as studies show that magnesium deficiency is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Moreover, one study found that women who had a higher dietary intake of magnesium had a reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis compared to those with lower levels [12]. 

 

Preserving brain health

Evidence suggests that inflammation can negatively affect brain structures and trigger a dysregulated stress response, leading to neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD, which is characterised by restlessness, irritability, a lack of focus, and fatigue [13].

Magnesium and brain health are closely linked, as magnesium is essential for regulating nervous system function. Healthy levels of the mineral in the blood can help relax individuals with ADHD and improve their attention and focus. 

Numerous studies confirm that children with ADHD have a magnesium deficiency, and magnesium supplementation helps to improve their behaviour, impulsivity and hyperactivity. The mode of action involves interaction with GABA receptors in the brain to induce a calming effect while also inhibiting glutamate (a stimulating neurotransmitter) activity [14]. 

Moreover, neuroplasticity allows the brain to create new neural connections and is essential to maintaining healthy cognitive function. Loss of plasticity negatively affects processes such as learning, memory, problem-solving, decision-making and more. 

Research suggests that increasing magnesium levels within brain cells can enhance density and plasticity and improve overall cognitive function. The mineral may also help to rewire the brain in cases of traumatic brain injury and anxiety disorders [15]. 

Magnesium L-threonate is a form of magnesium that crosses the blood brain barrier and is the only form effective in increasing magnesium levels in the brain. 

 

How Does Magnesium Reduce Inflammation

High calcium levels trigger an inflammatory response in cells, and when magnesium levels are low, the calcium surrounds the inflamed area, causing rigidity and blocking blood flow to facilitate healing. 

Because magnesium acts as a natural calcium channel blocker, it is a necessary component in regulating calcium levels and subsequently reducing inflammation. 

Magnesium also enhances the performance of proteolytic enzymes (responsible for many critical bodily functions) which help counteract inflammation following instances of an acute injury.

Other than that, magnesium helps specific enzymes break down scar tissue within the body that builds up over time and can eventually impair organ function. 

Moreover, the mineral optimises the function of blood-cleaning enzymes that support the liver, reducing the levels of circulating inflammatory proteins and inhibiting reactivity to various challenges posed to the immune system.  

 

How To Increase Magnesium Intake

Low-grade and chronic inflammation deplete the body’s magnesium reserves, thereby necessitating higher amounts to downgrade inflammation and subsequently prevent magnesium deficiency. 

Poor nutrition, that is, a low intake of magnesium, is closely linked to inflammation and the development of chronic disease. 

Signs of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Muscle weakness

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Hypertension

  • Fatigue

  • Nerve damage

  • Loss of appetite

  • Numbness or tingling

  • Nausea

  • Weak bones and muscles

  • Insomnia

  • Constipation

  • Headaches

 

The recommended daily intake of magnesium is between 400 - 420mg for men and 310 - 320mg for women. To maintain healthy magnesium levels, it is best to obtain the mineral through food:

  • Cooked spinach

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Chia seeds

  • Almonds

  • Cashews

  • Peanut butter

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Broccoli

  • Avocado

  • Potatoes 

  • Edamame

  • Black beans

  • Whole grains

  • Bananas

  • Dark chocolate

  • Yoghurt 

  • Halibut

  • Salmon.

 

Some people are at a higher risk of magnesium deficiency than others, e.g., people with digestive disorders or type 2 diabetes, the elderly, and those taking certain medications or struggling with alcohol dependence. 

In such cases, obtaining magnesium through dietary sources alone may be insufficient, and supplements may be required. However, it is important to choose the correct supplement that the body can easily absorb. 

For instance, magnesium oxide is regarded as the lowest-quality and least absorbable form, while magnesium citrate, glycinate, orotate and carbonate tend to be absorbed better. 

Although magnesium supplements are generally safe and well-tolerated, they may not suit individuals taking certain medications or those who have certain health conditions. Moreover, magnesium overdose can cause numerous side effects. Always speak with your doctor to determine the suitability and correct dosage, and assess whether supplementation is required in the first place

 

Take Care Of Your Health With GlycanAge

Magnesium and inflammation are inextricably linked, and consuming sufficient amounts of the mineral is vital for optimal physical and mental health. You can obtain magnesium through various nutrient-rich food sources and/or supplements. 

Inflammation plays a key role in the progression of age-related chronic disease. Learning your biological age with a GlycanAge test allows you to discover the true age of the cells and tissues in your body and the extent of inflammation

Because lifestyle factors greatly influence your health knowing your biological age knowledge can empower you to make necessary changes to your daily habits to help reduce inflammation, lower the risk of chronic disease and improve your overall health span.

All it takes is a quick and easy finger prick test to take your health matters into your own hands. Once you’ve submitted your blood sample to the GlycanAge lab, it’ll take 3-5 weeks to complete sample analysis and return a personalised report on your results. 

This report will provide key information on how factors, including your lifestyle, nutrition, illness, exercise and genetics, have impacted your immune system and, subsequently, your biological age. You will also receive complimentary 1-1 consultations with scientists and/or healthcare professionals to understand your results, devise an action plan to prolong and reverse your biological age, and improve your overall wellness as you get older. 

With various price points and payment plans available, there is an option to suit each person who wants an accurate, reliable and affordable way to determine their health state. Start your wellness journey today by ordering your GlycanAge home testing kit.

 

FAQs

What type of magnesium is best for inflammation?

Magnesium glycinate is a frequently used magnesium supplement Combined with the amino acid glycine, it is well-tolerated and well-absorbed. 

How do you know if your magnesium is low?

A magnesium deficiency can be diagnosed via a blood or urine test, which your doctor can arrange if you’re displaying certain symptoms or have abnormally high calcium or potassium levels. Signs of a magnesium deficiency include:

  • Weakness

  • Irritability

  • Abnormal heart rhythm 

  • Nausea

  • Twitching

  • Cramping

How long does it take for magnesium to start working?

Significant improvements can be noticed a week after taking a magnesium supplement. Transdermal magnesium products are delivered directly to the epidermis layer of the skin and, therefore, begin to work immediately due to bypassing the digestive system. 

 

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3685774/

  2. https://www.healthspan.co.uk/advice/magnesium-everything-you-need-to-know

  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28545353/

  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25748766/

  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28241991/

  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26404370/

  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27329332/

  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31691193/

  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25278139/

  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4161081/

  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34014999/

  12. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/10/11/e039640

  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8533349/#:~:text=In%20fact%2C%20inflammation%20can%20negatively,of%20a%20dysregulated%20stress%20response.

  14. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1110863015000555

  15. https://www.naturalgrocers.com/health-hotline-article/5-mind-blowing-benefits-magnesium

ARTICLE BY

The GlycanAge Team

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