The Critical Role of Magnesium As We Age

Up to 30% of us are subclinically deficient, and magnesium levels are quite hard to detect. We will likely exhibit symptoms of a deficiency before our blood work actually points to this as an issue. Blood tests (like the ones administered by your primary care physician) only tell us when our body reaches the point of hypomagnesemia — and our body will go to extremes to prevent this from happening. As it turns out, the last place we want to be low on magnesium is in our blood. 

Why is magnesium so important?

Vital to our bodies, magnesium plays a crucial role in supporting muscle and nerve function, controlling blood glucose levels, and regulating blood pressure. It contributes to the structural development of bones and is essential for the transport of calcium and potassium across cell membranes, which is necessary for nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and a normal heart rhythm. 

Appropriate levels of magnesium are also crucial for bone strength and density, can prevent muscle cramps and fatigue, and help maintain proper nerve function and mood regulation. Age-associated bone loss is particularly risky. Low levels are often also associated with an increased risk of stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms.

Inflammation and magnesium

Often described as a natural immune response, inflammation in our body is a given. It is persistent inflammation (which has been linked to magnesium deficiency) that is associated with heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and, well, aging in general. Magnesium plays a crucial role in our body’s natural inflammatory response by inhibiting the activation of inflammatory cells and reducing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. In working to manage inflammation, we can protect our body’s tissue from damage, promote healing, and reduce the risk of several long-term health complications.

Signs and symptoms 

The symptoms often mimic other conditions and issues we all face at times — adding to the deficiency being extremely difficult to detect. 

A mild to moderate magnesium deficiency can lead to:

  • Irritability and aggression
  • Muscle cramps, weakness, or fatigue
  • Involuntary muscle spasms and tremors
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Tinnitus and vertigo

A severe magnesium deficiency can lead to:

  • Cardiac arrhythmias and heart failure
  • High blood pressure and coronary artery disease
  • Migraines
  • Osteoporosis
  • Seizures

Where does the body store magnesium?

Magnesium is primarily stored in our bones, which house about 50-60% of the body’s total magnesium. The rest is distributed across organs, with significant concentrations found in muscle and soft tissue. It is also present in small amounts in our blood, where it supports those essential functions (muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and heart rhythm regulation) mentioned earlier. Due to these vital functions, our body will work overtime to keep the magnesium levels we need in our blood. You might be wondering where our blood cells go when low on magnesium, and that answer is our bones. Which is really bad news as we age. 

Best sources of magnesium

Being aware of the best sources of magnesium is also the best way to determine if you might be deficient. Performing your own “dietary analysis” can give you an idea of where you might be. Below is a list of magnesium-rich foods; if you are not eating enough of them, you may want to find some ways to incorporate them into your diet. A nutritional approach is always first and foremost when looking to ensure proper mineral levels in our body.

Unfortunately, for many of us it is getting harder and harder to get enough dietary magnesium. Even with a whole foods diet, you would benefit from extra magnesium. Research suggests that most of us should add 300 mg of additional magnesium per day to reduce the risks of heart disease and osteoporosis.

A tasty option to fill in the gap

LMNT used the above research as part of a guideline in their formulation. Each stick of electrolyte mix contains 60 mg of magnesium, to aid in meeting our daily needs. For those of you interested in supplementing your dietary magnesium, LMNT is offering our readers a free 8-serving sample pack with any purchase here

For those of you interested in a few fun recipes, check these out: