Magnesium: An Essential Nutrient

This month I want to talk about an essential mineral that has a variety of applications in the human body, magnesium. Magnesium is known to be a part of over 300 different enzymatic reactions as well as having a role in the nervous system, skeletal system and cardiovascular system.

The primary reason I recommend supplementing with magnesium is for the essential role it plays in the nervous system.  When our body encounters stress, either physical or mental, there is a hormone cascade reaction to the stress.  Glands like the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands secrete stress hormones that have an adverse effect on the muscular system of the body. The result is increased muscle tension, increased heart rate as well as increased pain fiber activation. We feel the result of these stress hormones activity as tightness, trigger points and muscle pain.  Magnesium plays a primary role in combating the negative effects of these stress hormones. Several studies in the literature describe magnesium as being antagonistic to the stress hormone pathway.  By supplementing magnesium in the diet, a decrease in muscle tension, anxiety and muscle aches is often accomplished. Most of the people I care for in the clinic present with some form of stress related muscle dysfunction for which magnesium can provide significant relief.

Another benefit of magnesium is aiding in the recovery of muscle tissue after strenuous activity.  Sporting activities, exercise and physically demanding jobs require efficient production of ATP, the energy source for muscle contractions. Magnesium plays a significant role in the body’s ability to produce ATP.  By supplementing with magnesium you can improve the efficiency in which your body recovers and replenishes your ATP stores. This means having more energy available on demand during physical exertion. If you exercise, especially when lifting weights, magnesium can help you train at higher levels, for longer periods of time and with less muscle soreness post activity.

A third benefit I see routinely in the office, and the literature supports, is the role of magnesium in helping people that suffer with migraine headaches.  While the pathway for its benefit is not completely understood at this time, it is believed that magnesium facilitates improved blood flow and increases neurotransmitter activity in the brain, thus reducing migraine headaches.  It should also be noted that there are new reports coming out showing potentially significant benefits in cognitive conditions like Parkinsons and Alzheimers diseases for these same reasons.

The product I recommend for supplementation is Magnesium Glycinate.  It is a chelated form of magnesium that is much easier to digest and process than other forms on the market. You can read more about Mag Glycinate on our nutrition store web page by searching for it by name.

Dr. Michael Powell

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