Magnesium is crucial to more than 300 enzyme-driven biochemical reactions occurring in the body on a near constant basis.
All nutrients used by the human body function as either:
- Sources of energy
- Building blocks for body structures
- Elements needed to regulate and control the body’s many functions
Like most vitamins, magnesium’s role is primarily regulatory. It allows enzymes to function properly, which in turn enable a vast majority of the body’s chemical reactions.
Enzymes are the basis of the body’s ability to function while supporting life. Many of the necessary chemical reactions that the body carries out, such as the breakdown of sugars in the digestive system, can only normally be performed under extreme heat or acidity.
Enzymes, however, allow these reactions to occur without damaging the body’s fragile tissues and organs.
Yet enzymes do not function alone. Substances known as enzyme co-factors must regulate the functions of enzymes in order to control the rate of reactions within the body. These co-factors act as “keys” to switches within each enzyme, instructing it to start or stop activity.
Magnesium is one of the most common co-factors in the body. Its presence is crucial to:
- Glucose and fat breakdown
- Production of proteins, enzymes and antioxidants such as glutathione
- Creation of DNA and RNA
- Regulation of cholesterol production
Without enzyme co-factors—including both hormones and vital minerals such as magnesium—reactions could easily spiral out of control.
In fact even slight imbalances can chronically impact the body’s level of performance and health. Thus, magnesium’s function as an enzyme cofactor can be seen as analogous to the important role that our body’s hormones play.
The crucial difference, however, is that our body can manufacture most hormones itself using basic building blocks. Magnesium, on the other hand, cannot be manufactured by the body, it must be taken in.
In the same way that multiple bodily systems suffer in cases of thyroid malfunction or insulin resistance, magnesium deficiency has far-reaching implications for the body’s level of functioning.