Magnesium: why is it essential?

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

75% of the population lacks magnesium!
So why is it essential and where to find it?

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

Why is magnesium essential?

Magnesium is essential because our body does not know how to produce it and it has an essential role in our body, both in the nervous system and in our muscles, our bones or our teeth for example.

Here are some of its roles so that you understand its usefulness:

  1. At the level of the nervous system, magnesium acts as a “calming agent”. So if you are deficient, you risk overexcitement of the nervous system.
  2. At the muscular level, magnesium plays a role in muscle contraction and relaxation. Moreover, for athletes, a sufficient intake of magnesium will improve endurance and reduce cramps because it will act to relax the muscles.
  3. In bones and teeth, magnesium will help transport calcium so that it can attach there.

Can magnesium really reduce fatigue as we often hear?

In fact, magnesium is necessary for managing energy reserves.

Concretely, after intense physical exercise or if it is very hot, magnesium needs will increase. If you do not provide enough magnesium at this time, your muscles will work slowly and you will therefore be tired with the slightest effort. And it’s the same in cases of nervous fatigue! So having enough magnesium can indeed reduce your fatigue.

But be careful, not all fatigue will be eliminated by adding magnesium. An unbalanced diet, too much work or a sedentary lifestyle are other factors responsible for fatigue. And chronic fatigue can also be a symptom of illness. So if it persists, consult your doctor.

A woman sleeping on a train.

Where to find this magnesium in food?

Magnesium is found in several foods:

  • In whole grains. These are whole-wheat rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat bread…because the magnesium is precisely in the film which gives this slightly brown color to these cereals,
  • In dried vegetables such as chickpeas, lentils, for example…,
  • In vegetables which have dark green leaves because magnesium is contained in the center of the chlorophyll molecule which gives this color precisely,
  • In almonds and walnuts,
  • In fruit.

Chocolate contains magnesium too, right?!

Chocolate contains it, but dark chocolate specifically! Moreover, some mineral waters also contain it, to know which one, it’s simple, it’s written on it (Hépar for example).

In fact, with all the diversity of foods that contain it, you should meet your daily magnesium needs. You will find it in almonds, brown rice, cashews, spinach, flageolets, bananas and dark chocolate.

dark chocolate for magnesium

What should you do to find out if you are magnesium deficient?

A blood test will not give you an accurate idea of ​​the presence of magnesium in your body.

These are essentially the symptoms which should alert you to a possible deficiency:

  • Anxiety, stress and sometimes even depression;
  • Muscle cramps, insomnia, sleep problems, osteoporosis, fatigue.

In addition, certain categories of people are more at risk of magnesium deficiency, such as women, due to losses during menstruation.

Also certain medications promote the elimination of magnesium in the urineor reduce its intestinal absorption: this is the case with diuretics, estrogen progestins (hormonal contraception or hormonal treatment for menopause), or even proton pump inhibitors (taken to reduce stomach acidity).

In any case, do not practice self-medication, if you have any of these symptoms, consult your doctor.

What should we think of magnesium supplements that we buy in pharmacies?

In theory if you eat a balanced diet, this is not necessary.

On the other hand, if you have some of the symptoms we have just talked about or you do not eat the foods we have mentioned, you can use food supplements.

It exists in the form of tablets, oral solution or ampoule, whatever the presentation, what I recommend is the magnesium bisglycinate which will be better absorbed by your body. Do not do a treatment for more than 2 months in a row because the body gets used to it and stops fixing it.

Of course, always ask your doctor for advice!