Magnesium is an essential, vital mineral that our body cannot synthesize itself. This means that it must be supplied in sufficient quantities with your daily diet or supplements. In a healthy person, magnesium makes up about 0.05 percent of body weight – that’s about 20 to 30 g in an adult. It is distributed throughout the body, with the majority (95 percent) being stored inside the cells of bones, muscles, and nerves. Magnesium is the fourth most common electrolyte in the human body. Being one of the most important minerals for a healthy life, the role of magnesium in our metabolism can hardly be overestimated. Specific magnesium benefits are:
Indispensable for our energy metabolism
Our body needs magnesium for a properly functioning energy metabolism because magnesium activates the so-called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), i.e. the fuel of all our cells. In addition, this essential mineral is involved in the breakdown of energy-yielding macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and glucose.
Involved in numerous other metabolic processes
Magnesium is involved in the activation of over 300 enzymes. Enzymes are substances we need for certain metabolic reactions to initiate at body temperature. Also referred to as biocatalysts, they accelerate chemical reactions in the body by reducing the required activation energy. Magnesium is involved, for example, in stabilizing blood sugar levels as well as in detoxification because it ensures that the corresponding enzymes that break down toxins are formed. There are hundreds of other important metabolic reactions that require magnesium in order to run properly.
Important for our immune system
Our T-cells depend on a good supply of magnesium to function optimally. T-cells play an important role in cellular immune response and in the coordination of various other immune functions.
This can potentially play a major role in the case of cancer. Studies have shown that T-cells can only effectively eliminate degenerated or infected cells in a magnesium-rich environment. When the magnesium concentration increased, the immune response against cancer cells was strengthened.
Researchers at the Universities of Basel and Cambridge were now able to say why that is: magnesium activates the T-cells to fight invaders by binding to a surface protein (LFA-1). If the T-cells are not activated, they cannot fight off invaders effectively. Magnesium thus acts as a catalyst of the immune system (read the research article).
Magnesium also activates vitamin C, enabling the vitamin to perform all of its many tasks such as supporting the immune system, triggering the production of messengers and hormones, fighting free radicals and supporting collagen formation.
Free magnesium ions also play a role in the immune system as secondary messengers.
Inhibits the release of stress hormones
The inhibiting influence of magnesium on the release of the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline is also worth mentioning. Magnesium is therefore sometimes referred to as the “anti-stress mineral”. Studies have shown that sensitivity to stress, especially stress from noise, increases with a falling magnesium level. Accordingly, magnesium deficiency can lead to stress-induced physiological damage.
In a study of 3,713 menopausal women, the Department of Epidemiology at the University of California (UCLA) School of Public Health found that the more magnesium a woman’s diet contained, the lower the levels of known indicators of inflammation in the body. The higher the magnesium intake of the participants, the better their health and the lower their inflammation scores.
Balances muscle tension and relaxation
Magnesium is needed in order for muscles to function properly. Magnesium ions, along with calcium and potassium ions, provide the electrical charges that cause muscles to contract and that allow nerves to send electrical signals throughout the body. As an electrolyte, magnesium plays a key role in balancing the electrolyte ratio in the body, ensuring the perfect balance between tensing and relaxing the muscles.
If you suffer from occasional muscle cramping – typically cramping in the calfs or twitching of the eyelids – then the calcium concentration in your body may be too high in relation to magnesium. Magnesium relaxes the muscles by reducing the influx of calcium and thus the tendency to cramp.
Promotes a healthy cardiovascular system
We just learned that the performance of our muscles is dependent on magnesium. This includes the heart muscle. Magnesium helps to keep the heartbeat regular by regulating conduction of the electrical signals that control the heart’s timing. Magnesium is commonly used to prevent arrhythmia.
In addition, magnesium helps keep artery walls flexible due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Deposits (plaque) that stiffen the artery walls can settle on them when the walls are inflamed. Stiff arteries are a risk factor associated with atherosclerosis, which can cause cardiovascular problems and heart disease.
Through these mechanisms, magnesium contributes to a healthy blood circulation.
Supports the mineralisation of bones and teeth
Magnesium helps to regulate the transport of calcium across cell membranes, playing a key role in bone and tooth creation, mineralisation, and stabilisation. Bones and teeth are also reservoirs that store magnesium for the body. Approximately 60% of the body’s total magnesium is in the bones and teeth.
Regulates the exchange of information between nerve cells and has a mood-enhancing effect
Also in our nervous system magnesium plays a crucial role: it regulates the exchange of information between the nerve cells and makes it possible for them to transmit stimuli. Magnesium harmonises the neurotransmitter metabolism and, together with vitamin B6 and niacin, is involved in the conversion of tryptophan into the happiness hormone serotonin. Serotonin has a mood-enhancing effect and promotes our mental resilience and emotional balance. Studies have shown that supplementing with magnesium for several weeks has a reducing effect on depressive symptoms and feelings of anxiety. In addition, magnesium promotes good sleep, since serotonin is needed to form the sleep hormone melatonin.
Cell stability, cell division, and cell cycle
Magnesium influences the stability of cell walls, the formation of our DNA, and is involved in cell division and protein synthesis in the body. Magnesium also plays a role in the cell cycle and cell apoptosis (cell death). Apoptosis is important for our immune system because dying body cells (of which there are billions every day) can prevent unwanted immune reactions against our own body.
Intestinal muscle cells need magnesium to function properly. Magnesium deficiency is often the cause of constipation. Laxatives lead to a magnesium deficiency in the long term. If more magnesium is consumed than the intestine can absorb, magnesium has a slightly laxative effect. In addition, magnesium causes the intestines to release water into the stool. This softens the stool and relieves constipation and irregularity.
Supplementing with magnesium
Knowing of all these important functions of magnesium, it is not surprising that a magnesium deficiency not only reduces performance, but also makes us susceptible to chronic diseases of all kinds. Magnesium is one of the most important substances for a healthy life.
Magnesium deficiency – more common than you think
Sufficient magnesium intake through our daily food is more difficult nowadays than it used to be. Intensive industrial farming methods negatively affect soil health. As a result of intensive farming, our soils no longer provide enough magnesium and other minerals and micronutrients due to decreased soil microbial diversity.
In addition, synthetic fertilisers reduce the ability of plants to absorb minerals such as magnesium from the soil. And industrial processing further contributes to reducing the mineral content of our foods. Also excessive calcium intake (e.g. by eating a lot of dairy products) can increase the excretion of magnesium and thus contribute to a deficiency.
This leads to an increased occurrence of deficiencies in magnesium and other essential minerals and nutrients among the population. Even people who pay attention to a healthy and balanced diet can be affected. In addition, many people today have a higher need for magnesium than our ancestors because of increased exposure to toxins, alcohol consumption, and psychological stress.
Different forms of magnesium
Due to its reactivity, magnesium does not occur in elemental form or isolated in nature. As a mineral, it occurs mainly in the form of carbonates, silicates, chlorides, and sulfates.
The three most common magnesium compounds available as supplements are magnesium citrate (magnesium bound to citrate, the salt of citric acid, organic), Magnesium carbonate (magnesium bound to carbonate, the salt of carbonic acid, inorganic), and magnesium oxide (magnesium bound to oxygen, inorganic).
Our body can absorb magnesium from all of these compounds, but it utilises them at different speeds and stores them for different lengths of time. As an organic form, magnesium citrate has the highest bioavailability of all magnesium compounds, so it can be optimally absorbed by the body, which is why we use this form in our products.
Magnesium and its synergists
As is true with all nutrients, it is important not to take magnesium in isolation. Micronutrients are generally better absorbed in combination and also fulfill their function in the body together with other nutrients. At Synergo, we call this nutrient synergies. Here is an overview of known nutrients that complement magnesium and should ideally be available together when supplementing.
Magnesium and vitamin D:
Vitamin D and magnesium deficiencies are among the most common nutrient deficiencies in developed countries and influence each other. In the case of a vitamin D deficiency, magnesium absorption is inhibited. Conversely, a magnesium deficiency can lead to a vitamin D deficiency because magnesium activates vitamin D. A negative side-effect is that without effective vitamin D there is also no calcium absorption in the intestine.
Magnesium and vitamin B6:
To ensure the absorption and good availability of magnesium, the combination with vitamin B6 is also beneficial. Just like magnesium, vitamin B6 supports the health of muscles and nerves, but in addition it ensures that the magnesium gets to where it is needed most – in our cells.
Magnesium and zinc:
When taken together, magnesium and zinc have mutual benefits. Magnesium helps your body regulate its zinc levels, while zinc does the job of allowing it to absorb magnesium more effectively.
Magnesium and choline:
A study published in 2019 showed that taking magnesium and choline together was more effective in inhibiting inflammatory processes and dysfunction in the cardiovascular system (endothelial dysfunction), which can lead to arteriosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Magnesium and silica:
Bones are primarily composed of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and silica. Magnesium and silica are involved in the anabolic processes of the bone metabolism (i.e. building up). Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease in which catabolic processes (i.e. breaking down) predominate. To protect against osteoporosis, magnesium and silica together help to strengthen the bone structure. (Calcium (together with potassium), on the other hand, is considered a mineral that promotes catabolic (breaking down) processes.)
Magnesium and calcium:
Taking magnesium and calcium at the same time makes sense! In the past, it was assumed that taking the two minerals at the same time was not advisable, since they were thought to adversely affect each other’s absorption into the body. However, this assumption was based on observations on an isolated rat intestine. Recent human studies have shown that magnesium and calcium can be absorbed by healthy people and can easily be utilised by the body when taken together. Even breast milk contains both magnesium and calcium – and we are convinced that nature knows best. New research has even shown that the two minerals magnesium and calcium support each other excellently in their positive effects. There are many metabolic processes that require both minerals at the same time.
Did you know that it is also important to ensure a balanced mineral intake? Calcium and magnesium often act as opposites in our body. With today’s dietary habits, many people consume too much calcium compared to magnesium, which leads to an unbalanced intake of minerals, containing insufficient amounts of magnesium. The formulation of Synergo basis therefore contains a little more magnesium (254 mg / daily dose = 68% NRV*) than calcium (242 mg / daily dose = 30% NRV*) in order to counteract this imbalance. At the same time, every portion of Synergo basis contains the micronutrients that interact synergistically with magnesium.
* NRV = nutrient reference values which are EU guidance levels on the daily amount of vitamin or mineral that the average healthy person needs to prevent deficiency (according to the EU food information regulation 1169/2011)