Magnesium – Functions and effects
Magnesium is a mineral involved in some of the body’s vital functions. In particular, magnesium is essential for maintaining the body’s electrolyte balance, which also ensures a balanced relationship between muscle tension and relaxation. See here for useful details on magnesium’s functions and effects in the human body.
What is magnesium good for?
Magnesium is an essential mineral and its functions within the human body include:
- Involvement in the metabolic process
- Support for muscle and nerve function
- Maintenance of the electrolyte balance
- Keeping bones and teeth healthy
Magnesium and its muscle functions
When asked: “What is magnesium good for?”, the first thing that would probably come to most people’s minds would be combatting muscle cramp. Which is partly correct, but isn’t the whole story. Magnesium is not just responsible for keeping muscles relaxed and functioning, although that is one of its most important functions. Together with calcium, this vital mineral is important for maintaining normal muscle function - tensing and relaxing the muscular system. If the balance shifts in favour of calcium – for example if a magnesium deficiency occurs – too much calcium enters the muscle cells, which can cause tension or cramp if it persists. In other words: magnesium relaxes muscles.
Magnesium: Power for normal metabolic function
Magnesium is essential for maintaining normal metabolic function. That’s because: Magnesium activates adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the fuel for cells’ activity. Magnesium is needed to “wake up” ATP. And that has a beneficial effect on muscle function - our muscles need all the energy they can get, so ATP is essential. And, almost incidentally, magnesium also activates around 300 enzymes. so, you could say that magnesium is the body’s spark plug.
Magnesium and the electrolyte balance
Magnesium’s regulating effect on the electrolyte balance is also ultimately beneficial for our muscle system. When magnesium levels in cells are too low, membrane permeability to potassium, sodium and calcium increases. This raises nerve cells’ excitability levels, increasing the risk of muscle cramps. Magnesium has a stabilising effect on cell membranes. This means that the mineral can help to reduce nerve cell excitability, making muscles less prone to cramps.
Importance of magnesium for bones and teeth
Around 25 grams of magnesium are stored in the human body. 60% of this is stored in bones and teeth. Just 39% occurs in muscles and organs and around 1% in the blood. so, bones and teeth are the most important storage sites for the mineral. That means that maintaining a good magnesium supply is also essential for maintaining normal bones and teeth.
The magnesium contained in the bones stabilises the bone matrix and is involved in bone mineralisation as well as bone growth.
A magnesium deficiency can also cause a reduction in the blood’s calcium levels. Which means: Two minerals that are important for the stability of our bones and teeth go missing at the same time. so, adding magnesium helps our calcium levels to rise, benefiting both our bones and our teeth.