Study Finds: If You're Low In Magnesium, You Could Be At A Greater Risk Of Anemia
The health world has been abuzz with chatter about magnesium over the last several years, and for good reason. The essential mineral is important for supporting sleep, digestion, brain health, energy, and more. Researchers are now looking into how this nutrient relates to anemia, and it turns out, having a healthy magnesium intake may also keep the condition at bay.
A recent study1 used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to explore the relationship between magnesium intake and the incidence of anemia—a lack of healthy red blood cells that's more common in women and most often caused by insufficient iron. Over 30,000 people ages 20 to 80 were included in the study.
Anemia causes symptoms like fatigue, generalized weakness, heartbeat irregularities, and issues like headache and brain fog, nutrition specialist Brooke Scheller, DCN, CNS, previously told mindbodygreen.
The study found strong evidence that magnesium deficiencies throughout adulthood were linked to anemia. This link was strongest in women and those in the older cohorts of the study.
Magnesium is an essential micronutrient that supports over 300 bodily processes and has been found to support a wide range of common health concerns.
Particularly, it's been shown to help support a healthy sleep cycle. Other noted benefits include helping maintain strong bones, reducing muscle cramping, and supporting healthy blood pressure and blood sugar—and the list goes on. More recently, research has also been digging into how it can support brain health.
Authors of this new study note that while this is a compelling jumping-off point, more research is needed to help confirm the link between magnesium and anemia risk and begin to explore causation.
How to get enough magnesium daily (because a lot of us don't)
When looking to up your own daily dose of magnesium, opt for nuts and seeds, leafy greens, whole grains, fish, dark chocolate, and sea salt. Even better, combine a handful of these by incorporating them into your favorite recipes or searching for magnesium-rich foods. You can quickly whip up this magnesium-rich smoothie for a full blend of delicious benefits.
Despite these far-reaching benefits, the average American doesn't get nearly enough magnesium2 in their diet.
Not sure where you fall? A quick blood test at your doctor's office or an at-home test will be able to help you gauge if you need to start getting some additional magnesium.
Taking a daily magnesium supplement is a safe way to help ensure you get to healthy levels.
There are a few types of magnesium supplements you'll find (magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, etc.)—some of which have specific benefits for things like sleep, brain health, and muscle recovery. Look for a magnesium supplement suited to your primary concerns. Here's what nutrition experts have to say about finding the right option for your needs—plus, 13 of the best magnesium supplements on the market right now.
Pro tip: If you're prone to gastrointestinal upset, consider opting for magnesium glycinate, which tends to have fewer GI side effects than other forms of magnesium.
Though the findings are relatively early stage, new research suggests that healthy magnesium levels should be top of mind for women looking to reduce their anemia risk. You can make sure you're getting enough of the mineral by eating magnesium-rich foods and taking a daily supplement.
Jenny is a San Francisco-based mbg health contributor, content designer, and climate & sustainability communications specialist. She is a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara. An avid open-water swimmer, Jenny has worked for healthy living and nutrition brands like Sun Basket, Gather Around Nutrition, and Territory Foods.