Why is everybody talking about Magnesium?

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I am just assuming here, but if you’ve found this post then you’ve seen a few too many reels recommending Magnesium. With the trend of vest runnings, so has come the trend of taking little sachets of energy and hydration gels on adventures. In fairness, the vest needs to be used or something. Surely?

One of the most popular minerals that people are talking about right now is Magnesium – very obviously in the running community – but also elsewhere. From Peter Attia to lesser-known health & well-being influencers, everybody seems to be talking about Magnesium.

We are also guilty of this, but long, long before it became trendy (not because we are cool, these things just come around in cycles). Magnesium is one of the key components of hydration powders, electrolytes and now supplements for sleep*, relaxation, focus and cognitive longevity.

So why is everybody talking about Magnesium? Let’s answer that question.

 

What is Magnesium & What does our body use it for?

Magnesium is a positively charged Ion that is used at almost every corner of our body; from bone health, heart health and the management of glucose – to muscle health, performance and recovery. It is also a cofactor with at least 300 enzymatic systems which means it is essential for DNA, digestion and healthy liver function. It is so essential for our body that Magnesium is key ingredient in medications treating conditions such as severe asthma, and eclampsia – in digestion aids (anti-acid products) and laxatives.

Magnesium causes somewhat of a butterfly effect inside the body, where the mineral is used to create many building blocks that go on to build a bigger effect. A bit like rock, that is made into a brick, and then a house. For example, Magnesium is needed for the absorption of Calcium and Vitamin D, which both contribute to Bone health and Immune system function. So, it is as foundational for our well-being as oxygen is.

The role of Magnesium in the body is most apparent when it is deficient. The effects of a magnesium deficiency are quite noticeable. For many of us, this is just something we live with and do not notice. So, Magnesium doesn’t really have any ‘benefits’, you may just need more Magnesium to be healthier.

Those with chronically low levels of magnesium are most likely to have high inflammation markers [source], which is associated with the 4 horsemen (Heart Disease, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Cancer), osteoporosis, brittle bones, poor immune defence and even hormonal and mood dysfunction. Kidney disease, Crohn’s disease, and Thyroid dysfunction are also many issues connected to your metabolic health (therefore, longevity), and are associated with Magnesium deficiency.

The overview is an avoidable lowering of the quality of life.

 

But why is everybody talking about it?

People talk about it a lot, but the answer to why is entirely dependent on the context.

There are some who use Magnesium supplements for performance and enhanced physical activity (locomotion). Others use Magnesium compounds (like Mangsmium L-Theronate) for focus and in an attempt to warn off cognitive decline (cognition), and improve their mood & sleep (psychological). There is a huge industry built around well-being and ‘longevity’, and many of those people will list general well-being benefits, like many of the benefits mentioned above (vitality). And there is a lesser group of people who will be talking about the benefits of Magnesium for your eyes and ears (sensory).

 

Magnesium for Performance & Endurance (Locomotion)

The role of Magnesium in performance, endurance and muscle performance is a subject that can get particularly dense. There is so much information to take on board that it has been a struggle to try and fit it into a short summary paragraph.

To make things relevant, a magnesium supplementation can enhance muscle power and torque, boost exercise performance and promote a lean body mass, and reduce muscle soreness and markers of muscle damage after training.

On a fundamental level, the body needs magnesium to move and perform; a magnesium deficiency will reduce, to quite a significant degree, performance. Whether you’re training for a marathon or bodybuilding, you’re body will require at least 20% more magnesium than the most regular person

There is an extremely ‘intricate relationship’ between magnesium and skeletal muscle performance. The mineral plays key roles in contraction (impacts strength & deficiency can cause cramping), electrolyte balance, mitochondrial energy provision (more energy makes moving easier, and you can perform for longer), protein synthesis (more protein = more muscle), reduces inflammation and increases antioxidant defence (recovery, repair & more recovery).

It is also worth noting that magnesium also plays a pivotal role for our strength, mobility and longevity as we age. One of the leading drivers of death in the elderly is often caused by a fall – the cause being lack of strength and mobility.

 

Magnesium & Focus, learning & memory (cognition)

More recently, I stumbled across Magnesium L-Theronate. It may be interesting to know that I took 500mgs before starting to write this post. There is a wealth of evidence behind magnesium’s role in the brain to improve cognition; which includes focus, learning, attention and cognitive performance.

Magesnium pays a role in three key areas of cognition; Learning, Memory & Neuronal activity. It helps send signals between nerve cells and keeps the balance of important chemicals. It acts like a natural brake to calcium (Ca), controlling how much comes into our nerve cells. Mg also helps with calming and protecting our brain cells.

Magnesium (Mg) is an essential element vital for metabolic regulation and tissue homeostasis, particularly in the brain, where it plays a crucial role in nerve signal transmission and maintaining the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Deficiency in Mg contributes to systemic inflammation, which is central to many diseases, especially neurodegenerative disorders like multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s diseases.

In the brain, Mg modulates neurotransmission by regulating calcium influx and inhibiting excitatory pathways, thereby preventing neuronal death and promoting neural network formation. It also protects the BBB integrity, essential for CNS function. Mg deficiency leads to neuroinflammation, characterized by increased inflammatory mediators like cytokines, nitric oxide (NO), and prostaglandins (PG), exacerbating neuronal damage.

In Alzheimer’s disease, Mg deficiency is associated with amyloid beta (Aβ) deposition and tau protein phosphorylation, both leading to neuroinflammation and cognitive decline. In Parkinson’s disease, low Mg levels contribute to oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and dopaminergic neuron loss. Similarly, in multiple sclerosis, Mg dysregulation exacerbates inflammation and BBB disruption.

Several mechanisms explain Mg’s protective role, including its anti-inflammatory action, regulation of Aβ synthesis and clearance, inhibition of tau phosphorylation, and modulation of TRPM7 channels involved in neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration.

Unanswered questions remain regarding Mg’s role in cellular senescence, circadian rhythm regulation, gut-brain axis, and the choice of Mg salt for supplementation. Nonetheless, evidence supports the importance of adequate Mg intake in preventing and adjunctively treating neurodegenerative diseases by mitigating neuroinflammation.

 

Magnesium, Mood & Sleep? (Phycology)

It seems that everything can help to improve your mood and sleep, but there is some real hard science behind how Magnesium can reduce the symptoms of depression and help you get a sounder sleep.

Magnesium has a few roles in the brain, but the most notable here is how it us used during the synthesis and regulation of neurotransmitters. It is partly used during the synthesisation of serotonin (and interacts with serotonin receptors), regulates cortisol (via ACTH neurotransmission) and acts as a GABA(gama-aminobutyric acid) receptor agonist (the neurotransmitter part of anxiety and fear).

All of these neurochemicals play a role in sleep induction, regulation and quality – as well as mood and cognition. How these chemicals operate is a whole field of medical science in itself, but just know that a deficiency in Magnesium does affect your sleep and therefore mood. If you

 

 

 

Eyes & Hearing (Sensory)

For hearing health, magnesium acts as a calcium antagonist in the inner ear, preventing excessive calcium influx into cochlear cells. This action helps protect against noise-induced damage by reducing cell energy depletion and promoting vasodilation of cochlear blood vessels. Additionally, magnesium may mitigate oxidative stress by inhibiting free radical production or facilitating their scavenging, thereby protecting against damage to auditory cells. Furthermore, magnesium modulates glutamate excitotoxicity, particularly in noise-induced hearing loss, by regulating NMDA receptor activity and reducing inner hair cell damage.

Regarding eye health, magnesium contributes to maintaining normal intraocular pressure (IOP), which is essential for proper vision. Studies suggest that magnesium supplementation may help reduce the risk of glaucoma by modulating IOP. Magnesium’s vasodilatory effects also improve ocular blood flow, which is crucial for delivering nutrients and oxygen to the eye tissues, including the retina. Moreover, magnesium’s antioxidant properties protect against oxidative damage to the eye’s delicate structures, such as the lens and retina, thereby reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.

Overall, magnesium is essential for preserving hearing and eye health by regulating calcium balance, protecting against oxidative stress, and modulating excitotoxicity. Adequate magnesium intake through diet or supplementation may help support these vital sensory functions and reduce the risk of hearing and vision-related disorders. However, further research is needed to fully elucidate magnesium’s precise mechanisms and optimize its therapeutic use in maintaining auditory and visual health.

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