Magnesium: The Fountain of Youth

If you’ve been following wellness news, then you likely know that good sleep is vital to your long-term health. Research links poor sleep with an increased risk of developing numerous chronic conditions, as well as a shorter lifespan.

In search of restful sleep, several of my friends take supplemental magnesium before climbing into bed. They believe that the mineral helps them to fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply, an opinion supported by research. For instance, one study showed that older adults who took 500 mg of magnesium just before retiring enjoyed superior shuteye, possibly because magnesium boosts levels of melatonin, a sleep-supporting hormone.

Magnesium Slows Down Aging

But restful slumber is not magnesium’s only benefit. Known as a “helper molecule” the mineral supports hundreds of bodily functions, like pitching in to keep your brain healthy, your muscles strong and your heart beating in a regular rhythm. Magnesium levels may also determine how long you live. For instance, when researchers provided magnesium to mice suffering from a disease characterized by premature aging, their lifespan lengthened.

Longevity research links magnesium deficiency with growing old before your time. For starters, daily living exposes your DNA to normal wear and tear. Your body needs magnesium to keep your DNA robust and to repair any damage that may occur. These activities protect your cells from untimely aging and premature death.

Here are some additional ways magnesium helps to slow down the process of aging.

Magnesium Supports Metabolic Health

It may seem obvious but growing older is the major risk factor for all chronic disease. Consequently, scientists are studying how to hamstring aging by delaying the onset of chronic conditions.

Poor metabolic health is one hallmark of aging. By improving metabolic health scientists believe they can handicap chronic disease development.

An unhealthy metabolism raises the risk of problems like metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that paves the way for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Research shows that adequate dietary magnesium reduces the likelihood of developing these life-threating conditions, in part by nipping metabolic syndrome in the bud. When Spanish researchers investigated the impact of magnesium intake, they found not only that people with high intakes were 40% less likely to die from heart disease than those with low intakes but that their risk of death from all causes was equally low.

Magnesium Thwarts Frailty and Fractures

While aging takes a toll on your body in general, it is especially unkind to your muscles and your bones. Generally, both peak around the age of 30 and then slowly begin to decline. Research links magnesium intake in older people with stronger muscles and bones, helping to prevent fragility and supporting an active life. Among its benefits, magnesium encourages vitamin D to activate, improving its bioavailability. Active vitamin D has been specifically shown to slow down age-related bone loss linked with osteoporosis.

Magnesium Fights Free Radicals

You’ve probably heard of free radicals, which have attracted the interest of aging researchers for well over fifty years. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) is one type of free radical. Too many of these molecules spark a chain reaction known as oxidative stress, a process often compared to the buildup of rust on a car. Let unchecked, rust eventually destroys the vehicle.

Your body generates free radicals in response to various situations. Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicals, helping to manage oxidative stress. Magnesium has antioxidant properties; research shows that oxidative stress is likely to show up when magnesium is in short supply. Insufficient magnesium also slows down the body’s antioxidant defense system. These reactions set the stage for numerous age-related conditions, including osteoporosis, obesity, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

Magnesium Tamps Down Inflammation

Virtually every age-related illness can be linked to chronic inflammation, a condition closely connected with oxidative stress. Inflammation is so common in older people that experts have coined the term “inflammaging”. Most older people have higher than normal levels of inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP.).

Magnesium supplementation has been shown to significantly decrease CRP levels, as well as numerous other markers of inflammation. Theoretically, delaying or even preventing the onset of inflammation can slow down chronic disease development and therefore, the aging process itself.

Getting Adequate Magnesium

Most Americans are magnesium deficient, thanks in large part to diets high in ultra-processed foods, which are notoriously lacking in micronutrients.  Moreover, it’s easy to burn up magnesium in your body. Magnesium deficiency can be triggered by lifestyle factors prevalent in contemporary society, including chronic stress, alcohol consumption and certain prescription drugs.

It can be challenging to obtain enough dietary magnesium to keep your body humming, particularly as you age. Older people are more likely to experience magnesium deficiencies simply due to biological changes associated with aging. Most experts recommend supplementing with magnesium since it has so many benefits and is deemed to be very safe.

One strategy for keeping magnesium intake high is avoiding ultra-processed foods, which have cascading negative effects. These include diminishing beneficial gut bacteria that support magnesium absorption. Eating a diet of whole foods, weighted toward those that are magnesium-rich, like leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds has an additional benefit. It provides the body with supportive nutrients that work synergistically with the mineral, providing numerous health benefits, including helping to keep you young.

Judith Finlayson is a bestselling author with a longstanding interest in health and nutrition. Her most recent book, You Are What Your Grandparents Ate:  What You Need to Know About Nutrition, Experience, Epigenetics, and the Origins of Chronic Disease, was published in 2019. It has been translated into 7 foreign-language editions, including French, German, Spahis and Japanese. Visit her at



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.