Magnesium plays a role in over 300 different metabolic processes in our bodies, helping with athletic performance, mental health, healthy blood sugar and healthy ageing.
Despite this, many of us don’t get enough magnesium in our diets – if you struggle with muscle cramps, stiffness, twitches or fatigue, you might be one of them!
In this article, we look at 6 evidence-based benefits of magnesium and how you can get more of it into your diet.
Magnesium supports athletic performance – particularly in older participants
Magnesium is essential for energy production and plays a role in muscle contraction, studies have demonstrated that normal magnesium levels improve exercise performance – reducing muscle damage in professional cyclists1, improving power in older women2 and supporting range of motion in volleyball players3.
While magnesium is beneficial for everyone, it’s particularly important for older athletes – as ageing decreases our body’s stores of magnesium.
Magnesium helps to maintain stable blood sugar levels
Magnesium plays a role in the regulation of blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, with studies showing that maintaining normal magnesium levels reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes4.
Magnesium supplementation has in fact been shown to improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes5.
Magnesium improves sleep quality
Magnesium can be transformational for the quality of your night’s rest. One study showed that magnesium supplementation helped people fall asleep 17 minutes faster on average6, while another study of 4000 people showed that it improved both quality and length of sleep7.
This restful night of sleep means that Magnesium is also associated with higher energy levels in the day time too8!
Magnesium might help reduce symptoms of PMS
This one’s a little unclear – with some studies indicating that magnesium can help reduce pre-menstrual symptoms of bloating, depression & anxiety9 when combined with vitamin B6 (also in your plantshakes!). Other studies have not found the same effects, indicating that it may only be helpful for those with low magnesium levels. Nonetheless, given that there’s no downsides, we think it’s certainly worth trying to get more of!
Magnesium helps with mood disorders like depression & anxiety
Magnesium is essential for the proper function of your brain. Magnesium deficiency has been linked with mood disorders such as depression and anxiety10. Magnesium supplements have been shown to improve mood and mental health in people with depression and anxiety11. Furthermore, some studies have indicated that the benefits of increasing magnesium intake are not limited to those who have low magnesium to start with12.
Magnesium supports bone health
As we age, our bones can become weak and brittle. Magnesium is essential for the formation of strong bones. A study of postmenopausal women found that those who supplemented with magnesium had improved bone density and reduced the risk of fractures13. Magnesium also helps to reduce the inflammation associated with osteoporosis.
Putting it into practice
While these benefits are powerful, it’s important to take these articles with a grain of salt. No single nutrient can replace a healthy balanced diet – so it’s essential to look at your nutrition in context.
Eating a variety of magnesium-rich foods, like leafy greens, nuts, seeds and whole grains can help you to get more magnesium into your diet, and they’re packed with other benefits too. Simliarly, your daily plantshake provides you with at least 70mg of magnesium – in a highly absorbable form – as well as all the other essential vitamins & minerals, antioxidants, polyphenols and phytonutrients that work with magnesium.
If you’re looking to enjoy any of the benefits outlined above, well a daily plantshake routine might just be the best place to start.
Córdova, A., Mielgo-Ayuso, J., Roche, E., Caballero-García, A., & Fernandez-Lázaro, D. (2019). Impact of Magnesium Supplementation in Muscle Damage of Professional Cyclists Competing in a Stage Race. Nutrients, 11(8), 1927. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11081927
- Wang, R., Chen, C., Liu, W., Zhou, T., Xun, P., He, K., & Chen, P. (2017). The effect of magnesium supplementation on muscle fitness: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Magnesium research, 30(4), 120–132. https://doi.org/10.1684/mrh.2018.0430
Setaro, L., Santos-Silva, P. R., Nakano, E. Y., Sales, C. H., Nunes, N., Greve, J. M., & Colli, C. (2014). Magnesium status and the physical performance of volleyball players: effects of magnesium supplementation. Journal of sports sciences, 32(5), 438–445. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2013.828847
Hruby, A., Guasch-Ferré, M., Bhupathiraju, S. N., Manson, J. E., Willett, W. C., McKeown, N. M., & Hu, F. B. (2017). Magnesium Intake, Quality of Carbohydrates, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Results From Three U.S. Cohorts. Diabetes care, 40(12), 1695–1702. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc17-1143
Zhao, B., Deng, H., Li, B., Chen, L., Zou, F., Hu, L., Wei, Y., & Zhang, W. (2020). Association of magnesium consumption with type 2 diabetes and glucose metabolism: A systematic review and pooled study with trial sequential analysis. Diabetes/metabolism research and reviews, 36(3), e3243. https://doi.org/10.1002/dmrr.3243
Mah, J., & Pitre, T. (2021). Oral magnesium supplementation for insomnia in older adults: a Systematic Review & Meta-Analysis. BMC complementary medicine and therapies, 21(1), 125. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-021-03297-z
Zhang, Y., Chen, C., Lu, L., Knutson, K. L., Carnethon, M. R., Fly, A. D., Luo, J., Haas, D. M., Shikany, J. M., & Kahe, K. (2021). Association of magnesium intake with sleep duration and sleep quality: findings from the CARDIA study. Sleep, zsab276. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsab276
- Cao, Y., Zhen, S., Taylor, A. W., Appleton, S., Atlantis, E., & Shi, Z. (2018). Magnesium Intake and Sleep Disorder Symptoms: Findings from the Jiangsu Nutrition Study of Chinese Adults at Five-Year Follow-Up. Nutrients, 10(10), 1354. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10101354
- Ebrahimi, E., Khayati Motlagh, S., Nemati, S., & Tavakoli, Z. (2012). Effects of magnesium and vitamin b6 on the severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms. Journal of caring sciences, 1(4), 183–189. https://doi.org/10.5681/jcs.2012.026
- Tarleton, E. K., & Littenberg, B. (2015). Magnesium intake and depression in adults. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine : JABFM, 28(2), 249–256. https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.2015.02.140176
- Anjom-Shoae, J., Sadeghi, O., Hassanzadeh Keshteli, A., Afshar, H., Esmaillzadeh, A., & Adibi, P. (2018). The association between dietary intake of magnesium and psychiatric disorders among Iranian adults: a cross-sectional study. The British journal of nutrition, 120(6), 693–702.
- Tarleton, E. K., Littenberg, B., MacLean, C. D., Kennedy, A. G., & Daley, C. (2017). Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. PloS one, 12(6), e0180067. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180067
- Groenendijk, I., van Delft, M., Versloot, P., van Loon, L., & de Groot, L. (2022). Impact of magnesium on bone health in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Bone, 154, 116233. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bone.2021.116233