Magnesium affects every part of the body. It's essential for energy production, supporting muscles, bones and teeth, and regulating other vitamins and minerals. Because magnesium plays a role with so many other body components, deficiency can be detrimental and cause sleep problems, nausea, vomiting, irritability, abnormal heart rhythms and seizures. Magnesium plays a role in skin health -- both directly and indirectly -- and low magnesium levels negatively affect your skin.
Magnesium deficiency is rare in developed countries among people who have variety in their diets. However, alcohol abuse, medications or a lack of variety in your diet can all increase your risk. The recommended daily intake to avoid magnesium deficiency is 320 milligrams for women. Men need 420 milligrams, while some children need as little as 40 milligrams each day.
Magnesium deficiency may have an effect on how the body uses vitamin D. Magnesium helps your body convert vitamin D into its active form, so that it can help you absorb calcium. Magnesium deficiency correlates with low levels of vitamin D activity, which in turn causes poor calcium absorption and affects the immune system. Because vitamin D also affects your hair and skin, this deficiency can also negatively affect your skin. Getting enough magnesium can help fight vitamin D deficiency and promote skin health.
Magnesium deficiency can contribute to skin damage caused by free radicals. These compounds cause damage to body cells and come from sources such as pesticides, smoking, bacteria, viruses and heavy metals. Free radicals negatively affect the body and can accelerate the aging process -- including the aging of your skin. Additionally, as people age, their magnesium levels may diminish, caused by reduced magnesium absorption. According to the Nutritional Magnesium Association, magnesium oil applied to the skin as a topical ointment helps the body produce more of the hormone DHEA, which can slow some signs of aging.
Some supplements -- for example, magnesium sulfate -- can be absorbed through the skin to boost your magnesium levels. If you have magnesium deficiency, talk to your doctor about supplements to correct it. Magnesium supplements absorbed through the skin may be beneficial for your situation or you may need to increase your intake of foods that contain this mineral, including legumes, whole grains, leafy vegetables, almonds, oatmeal and bananas.
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute: Magnesium
- Reuters.com; Magnesium Deficiency Reduces Effectiveness of Vitamin D in the Prevention of Disease, According to Magnesium Expert Dr. Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.; June 2011
- Nutritional Magnesium Association: Senior Health -- Anti-Aging and Magnesium Deficiency
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin D and Skin Health
- Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.