The average person's body contains just under 30 grams of magnesium, but this small amount is vital to a number of bodily functions. Many people do not have a adequate stores of magnesium, often because they rely too heavily on processed foods, which contain very little of this mineral. In addition, magnesium levels are easily depleted by stress. A lack of magnesium can hamper exercise routines. In one study, women over the age of 50 needed more oxygen and had higher heart rates during exercise when magnesium levels were low. For these reasons, nutritional supplements may be needed for the maintenance of optimal health. Supplements come in many forms, including magnesium acetate, magnesium carbonate, magnesium citrate, magnesium gluconate, magnesium oxide and magnesium sulphate.
In a study of 60 men and women with hypertension, the consumption of magnesium lowered blood pressure. On average systolic pressure (the top number) dropped 2.7 points; diastolic pressure (the bottom number) dropped 1.5 points. Declines of even a few points can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Magnesium citrate is the form of the mineral most easily absorbed by the body. Magnesium oxide may be the least expensive but is most poorly absorbed. Bran and whole grains such as a wild rice are rich in magnesium. Adults can get about a third of their daily target in a serving of bran.