Magnesium is an awesome mineral. It is getting more and more coverage these days, however, there are still a significant amount of people who do not know about the benefits of this amazing nutrient.
Magnesium is involved in approximately 300 processes within the body. It is used in every single organ in your body and as such is essential to your mind and body functioning at an optimal level of health and fitness. The benefits of magnesium are endless and more and more benefits are being found every day, all backed by strong scientific research.
It is estimated globally that OVER 80% of people are deficient in magnesium. From an anecdotal point of view, I would hazard a guess that the actual deficiency percentage is much higher than this, probably closer to 90-95% of people. These kind of deficiency statistics are in line with the global deficiencies seen in Vitamin D and Zinc levels. All three of these nutrients are vital to your body’s functioning and should be kept topped up year-round for optimal health and lower risk of disease.
In this article we are going to focus on three of the main benefits of magnesium, those being: improved sleep, increased muscle building, and greater fat loss.
Magnesium and Sleep – Rest Peacefully
Magnesium above all else has a calming effect on the body’s central nervous system. Just from knowing this it is clear how magnesium can help you improve your sleep.
Many people these days have trouble switching off and getting to sleep. This is due to high levels of technology in our lives that over-stimulate our brains and therefore make it hard to get relaxed and sleep peacefully.
However, multiple studies have shown that taking magnesium a few hours before bed can help calm a person’s brain activity and therefore improve their sleeping patterns. The studies also show that sleep quality improves as a greater proportion of a person’s sleep time is spent in REM sleep (the most restorative part of the sleep cycle) if they have higher magnesium levels.
Magnesium has also been shown to reduce stress – which has an indirect effect on helping with sleeping patterns. If you are overly stressed you will likely go to bed thinking about the things that are stressing you out. However if you can reduce the effects of stress on the body, then you will be able to get to sleep more easily.
Magnesium reduces stress by directly lowering the levels of cortisol released by the body. Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone and is meant to be lower in the evenings to allow for increased serotonin levels to help the body relax. If too much is released then your stress level will be too high to get proper sleep.
Obviously magnesium is not a cure-all to get a perfect night’s sleep, however for a lot of people it has been shown to work very effectively. We recommend having 200-400 mg of magnesium a couple of hours before bed to see the full effects.
If you are still struggling however, a highly informative 4-Week program was recently released on how to get the perfect night’s sleep which goes into more detail than just taking a magnesium supplement. You can find the article here and it’s free for you to check out.
Build Muscle Faster with Magnesium
Magnesium is critical for metabolizing energy and physical performance. Magnesium is needed to effectively contract muscles during exercise – therefore with lower than normal magnesium levels you won’t be able to work out as hard or lift as heavy weights. This will severely impact your muscle building capabilities in the long-run.
Furthermore, studies coming from MIT have shown that magnesium plays a big role in producing testosterone and maintaining optimal T levels. Studies have shown that those who take magnesium have increased testosterone levels by just taking 10 mg per kilogram of bodyweight.
Testosterone is directly linked to muscle building, with low T levels being a cause for lack of muscle building success. As such it is critical to make sure you are doing all you can to get your magnesium levels at their optimal in order to build muscle effectively
Another key element of building muscle is your body being able to synthesize protein during the day. Protein synthesis is your body’s ability to take up protein into the muscle in order to grow and repair so that your muscles come back bigger and stronger.
Magnesium has been shown to have a direct impact on protein synthesis due to supporting the enzyme function in the body. In fact, a recent study showed that a group taking 8mg of magnesium per kilogram of bodyweight improve their strength significantly compared to a control group taking a placebo.
It is for these reasons we recommend taking magnesium if you want to improve your muscle building. Again we recommend 200-400 mg per day to see the best benefits.
Lose More Fat by taking Magnesium
There are a multitude of reasons why magnesium improves your body’s ability to lose weight more quickly. The first of these is that magnesium is an anti-inflammatory mineral. It lowers inflammation in the body through the reduction of stress and improved recovery benefits. If your body is in an environment where it is persistently inflamed then you will not be able to lose fast effectively as the body will be constantly fighting inflammation, as opposed to focusing on losing body fat.
Magnesium’s helpful effects on reducing inflammation have actually been shown to help with reducing incidences of arthritis, heart disease, and intestinal issues as well.
Probably the main reason why magnesium helps with increasing weight loss is due to increasing the body’s insulin sensitivity. Poor insulin sensitivity means the body cannot handle carbohydrates effectively and therefore is more prone to storing them as body fat when consumed. This has a two-fold effect.
First, it means that you are more likely to go off your diet plan because with low magnesium levels and a lower ability to handle carbs you will have to deprive yourself of these food items while dieting. Deprivation in the long-term leads to higher mental stress and more likelihood of no keeping to your diet.
Secondly, due to lower consumption of carbs, it will take you longer to recover from workouts. A longer recovery period means that you won’t be able to workout as often and therefore burn as many calories. This directly will impact your ability to lose body fat quickly.
Finally, magnesium has been shown to be central to helping conquer obesity. Low magnesium levels have been shown to increase storage of fat around the belly area. High abdominal fat levels has been shown to increase the body’s stress levels which then has a negative effect on your ability to lose weight, and as discussed earlier have a proper sleep as well. Furthermore, we haven’t even covered how important a good sleep is to losing body fat either!
So How Should I take my magnesium?
Magnesium comes in many different forms, however the two we recommend most often are capsules of magnesium or using Epsom salts baths.
Epsom salts are pure magnesium sulfate and can help dramatically improve magnesium levels with just 2-3 Epsom salt baths per week. The key to restoring your magnesium levels in this manner is to use 200-250 g of Epsom salts per bath.
A lot of people only use 25-50 g of salts per bath but this is way too low to have any significant effect on improving magnesium levels. A good source of Epsom salts is Westlab, who are well known for their high quality products.
By far the most common way however is to use supplemental magnesium in the form of capsules. The problem for most people here though is that not all supplements are created equally. There are many different forms of magnesium sold on the market, but on a couple really have beneficial effects. The cheapest versions such as Magnesium Oxide have very poor absorption rates within the body and therefore do not actually provide much benefit at all.
The best form of magnesium to take a chelated magnesium such as Magnesium Glycinate or Magnesium Malate. These have been shown to have the best absorption rates in the body. Furthermore, chelated magnesium means that the magnesium is bound to an amino acid.
Magnesium glycinate is especially effective at helping calm the nervous system and this is due to the conjunction of magnesium and glycine in the supplement. Glycine is an amino acid that help relax the mind and muscles in the body. As such you effective get a one-two punch of calming effects on the body when taking magnesium glycinate.
So there you have it! A true wonder mineral that can help ANYONE improve their health and fitness. I take magnesium religiously every day and have noticed the benefits of it. If I stop for a week or so for any reason I definitely notice a poorer sleeping pattern and recovery from workouts resulting. I can’t live without it, and you shouldn’t either.
Thank you for reading my article, let me know what you think in the comments below! I would love to have a debate on the subject!