You know calcium is needed for bone health. And you’ve probably heard that potassium is great for muscles. Did you know about the connection between magnesium intake and a healthy heart?
The highest levels of magnesium reside in the heart. An imbalance of this mineral, along with sodium, potassium, and calcium can alter the way the heart conducts electricity, and as a result, change the natural heart rhythm.
Helps regulate heart rhythm
Magnesium is central to a healthy heart rhythm because it plays a role in transporting electrolytes, such as calcium and potassium, into cells. Magnesium helps prevent erratic electrical conductivity in the heart and coordinates the activity of the heart muscle and nerves that regulate the heartbeat.
Supports a normal blood pressure
Magnesium can increase the production of nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that helps relax blood vessels. This means magnesium may play a role in promoting a normal blood pressure range.
Helps regulate muscle contractions
Magnesium acts as a gatekeeper, regulating the entry of calcium. Magnesium opens the cells to receive a measured amount of calcium to cause a muscle contraction. Then, magnesium drives the calcium out of the cell to help the muscles relax again. Without magnesium to closely guard this channel, calcium can accumulate in the cell, leading to hyperexcitability and calcification. Instead of relaxing when needed – your muscles contract too much, causing frequent cramps or spasms. Due to its popularity for bone health, many people are supplementing with calcium but not magnesium. Our bodies require a sufficient amount of both minerals to function properly.
May improve insulin resistance
What can happen in the body when you eat too much sugar and simple carbohydrates? Insulin resistance!
Insulin’s job is to open up receptor sites on cell membranes to allow the influx of glucose, the body’s main source of fuel. Insulin resistance can occur when your cells resist or begin ignoring the signal insulin is trying to send out – which is to respond by grabbing the glucose from the bloodstream. When the cells fail to do their job, this results in elevated (sometimes dangerous) levels of glucose remaining in your bloodstream.
One of the major reasons that cells stop responding to insulin is lack of magnesium. Magnesium is required in the metabolic pathways, like the Krebs Cycle, that allow insulin to usher glucose into cells where glucose participates in making ATP energy for the body. If magnesium is deficient, the doorway into the cells does not open to glucose. In a series of events, glucose and insulin rampage throughout the body, causing elevated glucose levels, tissue damage and the overuse and wasting of essential magnesium.
Impact of Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium deficiency plays a huge role in throwing the structure and function of the heart into disarray. Magnesium deficiency can disrupt the delicate balance of electrolytes that nourish the heart and establish the heart rate and rhythm. Misfiring of the electrical signals (irregular heartbeat) can often point to a mineral imbalance. Magnesium deficiency can cascade into a number of symptoms, including irregular heartbeat. Low magnesium levels typically aren’t tested in the general population, so a deficiency can easily fly under the radar in patients with heart conditions.
How to get enough magnesium
The amount of magnesium someone needs varies depending on age, sex, and other factors. The Dietary Guidelines list the following levels for adolescents and adults.
- Between 14-18 years of age: 360 mg for females, 410 mg for males
- Between 19-30 years of age: 310 mg for females. 400 mg for males
- 31 years of age and over: 320 mg for females, 420 mg for males
Most people consume magnesium amounts well below these ranges.
Consuming magnesium-rich foods like almonds, spinach, cashews, and black beans can help you meet your individual needs. But keep in mind that your body only absorbs roughly 30-40% of magnesium in foods. Adding a high quality liquid magnesium supplement to your regimen alongside a well balanced diet may be necessary in order to achieve health goals.
*Always speak with a health professional before taking a new supplement.