What is magnesium and what does it do? Is a supplement necessary?
First, the basics: Magnesium is an essential nutrient and plays a role in more than 300 processes in the body. While outright deficiencies are rare, many Americans don’t consume enough magnesium to gain potential protective effects against health problems.
Magnesium is a real powerhouse in the body. Most of the body’s magnesium isn’t in the bloodstream, it’s in the bone. In fact, it works closely with calcium and vitamin D to help form and maintain strong bones and teeth. Magnesium also helps regulate muscle and nerve function, and helps muscles relax and contract.
Magnesium also plays a role in regulating blood pressure and can help the heart keep a steady rhythm. It is being studied to see how much it can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
The recommended daily intake amount of magnesium for adults is 400 to 420 milligrams for men and 310 to 320 milligrams for women. It is found in many foods. Some of the best sources are leafy greens and other green vegetables (chlorophyll contains magnesium); beans and other legumes, including tofu and other soy products; nuts and seeds, especially almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, pine nuts and sunflower seeds; and whole grains.
Magnesium supplements can also interfere with medications, particularly antibiotics and certain medications used to treat osteoporosis. This is just one reason why it’s important to consult with a health-care provider before you begin taking a new vitamin or mineral supplement. It is also why it’s a good idea to focus on getting most of your nutrients from a healthy, balanced diet.