As we age, many of us experience more frequent insomnia, joint pain, and fatigue – but these symptoms are not necessarily because of advancing years. Seniors tend to have deficiencies in many nutrients, and magnesium is responsible for many of the problems just listed. In fact, the nutrient is essential for healthy aging.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) has this to report about magnesium and its benefits.
Older adults have reduced dietary consumption of this mineral, and on top of that, absorption decreases with age. Older adults are more inclined to live with chronic disease or take prescription medication that impacts magnesium absorption, which can increase depletion risk.
A deficiency can cause side effects that mimic typical signs of aging – so it can be missed by physicians. This article will elaborate on how low magnesium levels affect a senior’s mental and physical health.
How Magnesium Affects Mental Health
Magnesium is vital to the proper functioning of over 300 metabolic reactions in the body. An inadequate level of the nutrient can therefore be associated with depression, insomnia, pain, and anxiety – to name a few conditions.
Research indicates that magnesium plays a significant role in calming the nervous system. It also inhibits the N-methyl D-aspartate receptors (NMDA), which are implicated in cognitive impairments involving memory and learning. As the brain ages, the NMDA receptor system can slow down and lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition to fighting memory loss, magnesium helps the body completely relax, making it a potent sleep aid. It also affects our body’s manufacturing of natural melatonin, which in turn regulates the human sleep cycle. Therefore, this mineral is a wonderful replacement for all those prescription and OTC sleep medications for a good night’s sleep – without waking up tired!
Magnesium and Physical Health
Over half of Americans have this deficiency, and that number grows as the population ages. This can be devastating, as magnesium also:
- Converts food into energy
- Creates proteins to build muscle tissue
- Contract and relax muscles
- Create and repair DNA
- Regulate the nervous system
In layperson’s terms? Magnesium slows the aging process, provides more energy, helps with weight loss, and provides sound sleep. But wait, there is more!
The nutrient is an effective anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the primary cause of health issues such as heart disease and cancer, as well as arthritis and osteoporosis. The recurring inflammatory response can harm healthy cells, tissues, and organs, resulting in DNA damage, tissue death, and scarring. Studies have also proven that insufficient magnesium in your system can adversely impact ocular tissues, causing age-related eye conditions. It is integral to the proper development and function of the eye, and without it, the eye can experience problems with the optic nerve – as well as other eye conditions such as infections, cataracts, dryness, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy which can dramatically impair vision.
How to Increase Your Magnesium Levels
To keep magnesium levels where they belong, make sure to include magnesium-rich foods in your diet – such as nuts and seeds, leafy greens and legumes. The recommended daily amount of magnesium is between 400-420mg for men and 310-320mg for women. Absorption declines as we age, and the most effective way to identify a deficiency is to look for the symptoms.
Seniors should also be aware that alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and a diet high in animal proteins or calcium can reduce magnesium levels.
A high-quality magnesium supplement can make a difference if you find it difficult to meet daily requirements.
Seniors should always speak with their physician and eye doctor before taking any new supplement, especially if they are already taking medications.
A Banyan Residence is a professional assisted living and memory care center located in Venice. We care about the complete holistic health of all our residents.