Magnesium is the fourth mineral in your body.
It is involved in more than 600 cellular reactions, from making DNA to contracting muscles ( 1Trusted Source ).
As important as this is, up to 68 percent of adults in the United States do not meet the daily recommended intake (2Trusted Source).
Low magnesium levels are associated with many negative health effects, including weakness, depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
This article discusses how magnesium affects your body, its health benefits, how to increase your intake, and the consequences of getting too little.
Ensures healthy brain function
Magnesium plays an important role in the transmission of signals between your brain and body.
It acts as a gatekeeper for N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in your neurons, helping with brain development, memory, and learning ( 3Trusted Source ).
In healthy adults, magnesium resides inside NMDA receptors, which are triggered by weak signals that stimulate your neurons unnecessarily.
When your magnesium levels are low, fewer NMDA receptors are blocked. This means that they are stimulated more often than necessary.
This type of overstimulation can destroy nerve cells and cause brain damage (4 Normalizes heart rate.
Magnesium is important for normal heart rate.
It naturally competes with calcium, which is essential for the heart to contract.
When calcium enters the heart muscle cells, it stimulates the muscle fibers to contract. Magnesium counteracts this effect and helps calm these cells (5, 6).
This movement of calcium and magnesium through the heart cells keeps the heart beating normally.
When your magnesium levels are low, calcium can overstimulate heart muscle cells. One common symptom is a fast and/or irregular heartbeat, which can be life-threatening ( 7Trusted Source ).
In addition, the sodium-potassium pump, an enzyme that generates electrical impulses, requires magnesium to function properly. Some electrical impulses affect your heart rate (8