Zinc and Magnesium: Essentials for stress busting, immunity boosting, and so much more

Are you getting enough zinc and magnesium? Find out why it’s vital you get adequate levels of these minerals for your health and wellbeing and what you can do about it.

Most of us experience stress and anxiety at one time or another. Some of the biggest triggers are concerns about money, work, relationships, and the economy.

But whatever the cause, stress can seriously affect your health with symptoms ranging from headaches, high blood pressure, chest pain to heart palpitations, skin rashes, and loss of sleep.

In the United States, it’s estimated that anxiety affects 40 million adults—18% of the population—every year. And in the UK, the National Health Service reports that approximately 1 in 6 people experience some form of anxiety and depression every week.

The message is clear: Stress levels and related anxiety as a reaction to stress are rising.

But the good news is that zinc and magnesium can help minimise the adverse effects of stress in your life. Among many other functions, zinc and magnesium play a key role in your moods.

Together, these two minerals work to boost levels of the brain chemical GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Increasing GABA levels causes the nervous system to relax, reducing brain activity and decreasing anxiety and stress.

And if that wasn’t enough…

Magnesium and zinc are responsible for supporting over 300 functions in your body required for good health.

Unfortunately, many people don’t get enough zinc and magnesium to help perform all these essential functions. And deficiencies in either mineral can be the root cause of many poor health symptoms.

In this article, I’ll talk about the benefits of zinc and magnesium and what deficiency in these minerals means for your health. I’ll also cover recommended levels, tips for improving absorption, and supplementation.

zinc and health image

Zinc and your health

Zinc is an essential trace mineral your body needs every day to stay healthy. It’s called a ‘trace’ mineral because you only need a small amount to reap the health benefits.

Why do you need zinc?

Zinc appears in cells throughout your body and plays a vital role in numerous functions including immune function, growth and development, brain health, mood and sleep, eye and skin health, and testosterone production.

Not getting enough zinc can lead to serious side effects, severely impairing the immune system function and other health problems.

Here’s why…

Zinc is essential for growth and development.

Zinc plays a key role in the production of androgens – IGF 1 growth hormone. If you don’t have enough zinc, your muscles can’t grow, you’ll have low energy, as well as poor recovery.

Zinc helps your body absorb all other nutrients.

If you’re deficient in zinc, it’s more than likely you’re also deficient in other nutrients. That’s because zinc is the great organiser—it is synergistic for absorption of all nutrients.

Zinc is essential to managing insulin.

If you’re deficient in zinc, your body will have a hard time storing glycogen, inducing anabolism, and your carbs will keep building fat stores.

Zinc regulates dopamine production.

If you don’t have enough zinc, your brain cannot function properly. You’ll have a lower attention span, more mood swings, and little drive in the gym.

Common symptoms of Zinc deficiency

  • Low energy
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Acne
  • Diarrhoea
  • Impaired wound healing, including eye and skin sores
  • Hair loss
  • Learning problems
  • Low libido and impotence
  • Decreased lean body mass

While true zinc deficiency is rare in the Western world, mild zinc deficiency is relatively common, particularly in the very young and elderly, women who are breastfeeding or pregnant, people with certain digestive problems and diseases (such as Crohn’s disease), and those eating vegetarian or vegan diets.

Sources of zinc

The only way to get the zinc your body needs is through food and supplementation.

Foods highest in zinc are certain types of seafood like oysters, red meat, poultry, nuts and seeds, unsweetened chocolate (cacao), and whole grains.

Because zinc is mainly located in the germ and bran portions of grains, as much as 80 percent of the total zinc is lost during milling. That’s why many breakfast cereals are fortified with zinc.

How much zinc and magnesium do you need? magnesium and health image

Magnesium and your health

Like zinc, magnesium is an essential trace mineral. It’s also one of the most important minerals for optimal health and performance.

Why do you need magnesium?

Magnesium is vital to every organ in your body, including the heart, muscles, kidneys and bones.

It’s crucial for optimal progress in training and in everyday life as its necessary for more than 300 essential metabolic functions.

Magnesium calms nerves and anxiety.

Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system. It’s the raw material for serotonin, the neurotransmitter that aids relaxation and wellbeing.

Magnesium helps you sleep deeper.

Magnesium is an indirect raw material for the hormone melatonin, which brings you into the deep sleep phase. Too little magnesium = no deep sleep. More magnesium = deeper sleep.

Magnesium improves brain function.

Magnesium is essential for excellent mental performance. Supplementation with magnesium has been shown to increase brain function and improve learning and memory.

Magnesium increases testosterone levels.

Magnesium is needed for energy metabolism as well as physical activity, and recent research shows that intake increases testosterone levels. I personally use 5 different forms of magnesium, depending on the condition and the target.

Magnesium synthesises protein and builds strength.

Magnesium supports protein synthesis, as it allows a corresponding enzyme function in the body. In addition, research shows that supplementing magnesium with strength training can make you stronger.

Magnesium reduces inflammation.

Inflammation is not only an obstacle to recovery after hard workouts, but it’s also associated with cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and diabetes.

A study by George Washington University showed that a magnesium deficit leads to increased levels of inflammation throughout the body, adversely affecting both the blood vessels and the cardiovascular and intestinal tissues. Inflammation of the heart tissue can lead to cardiovascular diseases, as it increases the oxidative stress, while inflammation of the digestive tract leads to digestive problems.

Magnesium makes your bones stronger helping to prevent osteoporosis.

You need calcium for strong bones, yet you need sufficient magnesium and vitamin D to effectively absorb the calcium.

Magnesium leads to cellular enzyme activity, which first allows the body to convert vitamin D into its active form and then helps with the mineral intake into the bone structure. Magnesium allows for the release of the hormone calcitonin, which helps to preserve the bone structure and feeds calcium from the bloodstream and soft tissue back into the bones.

Magnesium optimises blood lipid levels and blood pressure.

Magnesium deficiency has an effect on lipid metabolism and increases blood pressure, which can negatively affect arterial health and ultimately lead to arteriosclerosis. Research shows that supplementation of magnesium significantly reduces the likelihood of exercise-induced chest pain.

Magnesium affects your moods.

Magnesium is the raw material for serotonin, the neurotransmitter for relaxation and wellbeing. Serotonin deficiency is directly related to mood swings, depression and wellbeing. More magnesium = More serotonin = You feel better.

Magnesium helps you sleep deeper.

Magnesium is indirectly the raw material for the hormone melatonin, which brings you into the deep sleep phase. Too little magnesium = no deep sleep. More magnesium = deeper sleep.

The right magnesium is crucial.

Magnesium comes in different forms. Each magnesium form has other functions and is preferentially absorbed by other tissue. For example, magnesium citrate is ideal after exercise but does not have a relaxing, sleep-inducing effect. To make it easier for you to fall asleep at night, magnesium bisglycinate is the most efficient solution.

Common symptoms of a deficiency in magnesium

  • Muscle cramps and twitches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety, depression, or restlessness

Sources of magnesium

Like zinc, food and supplements are the main sources of magnesium.

The highest magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, seeds, beans, fish, whole grains, nuts, dark chocolate, yoghurt, avocados, and bananas.

How much zinc and magnesium do you need?

Zinc and magnesium are vitally important nutrients that play an indispensable role in your body. You need the right amount of these minerals to function properly. These are the current daily intakes recommended by the National Institutes of Health:
  • Zinc: Adults 11 mg for men and 9 mg for women (19+ years old)
  • Magnesium: 400 mg for men, 310 mg for women (19-30 years old), 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women (he31+ years old)
It’s important to note that the recommended daily allowances for zinc and magnesium put forth by the National Institutes of Health are the bare minimum to prevent true deficiency. However, the amounts are not adequate for optimal health, particularly when you consider the amount of stress we battle today, which is so much higher than in our grandparent’s generation. Also, some people may have issues that reduce absorption or health goals that increase the need for these minerals.

But it’s not always easy to detect low zinc and magnesium levels. That’s because some of the more common symptoms are not unique. Yet, low intake of these minerals are not only common but also linked to several conditions.

While you can absorb zinc and magnesium from dietary sources, many people do not get enough. It’s also important to remember these minerals are not stored in the body so you need to have an adequate amount every day.

That’s why adding supplements to your daily regimen is important to boost and maintain your levels.

Boost your health with zinc and magnesium supplements

Here at Human Performance Hub, we’re passionate about the benefits of proper supplementation. We only endorse and recommend the highest quality supplements from the world’s leading suppliers of dietary supplements.

We stock a range of zinc and magnesium supplements with different formulations, as well as multivitamins containing these essential minerals.

We’re always here to help to give advice on choosing the best one for you. Please book in for a consultation if you want to find out more and look at your zinc and magnesium levels.

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Recommended usage

Always read the instructions for each supplement as they may differ from each other.

In general though, to gain the most from the powerful combination of essential minerals I recommend taking zinc with meals throughout the day and magnesium later in the day or the last thing at night as magnesium has a relaxing, calming effect.

Also, if you sweat a lot after exercise supplementing after training is beneficial to restore depleted amounts.

However, as well as not getting enough zinc or magnesium can affect your health, too much may also produce adverse effects, particularly zinc. That’s why I suggest you take a nutrient test to measure your levels and then supplement accordingly.

Nutrient testing

In addition to looking for symptoms of deficiency, a diagnostic test can give you a deeper understanding of your nutrient status. Once you have your results, you’ll know the exact levels of any deficiencies or imbalances you may have and how to correct them.

The Organix® Comprehensive Profile is a nutritional test from a single urine specimen providing insights into organic acids and a view into the body’s cellular metabolic processes. By identifying metabolic blocks that can be treated nutritionally, you can know how to improve health outcomes with individual tailoring. The test is valuable for determining functional vitamin and mineral status, oxidative damage and antioxidant needs, amino acid insufficiencies, and many other markers.

Once you start supplementing, your levels will rise and you should do another test six to eight weeks later for best results.

Zinc supplements

Zinc supplements support a healthy immune function, fight free radicals to prevent infections and cancer, help maintain hormone levels and assist the body in absorbing other nutrients. Boosting zinc levels is also important for athletes who lose zinc through sweating during exercise.

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Thorne Zinc Picolinate

This is a highly absorbed form of zinc that supports immune function, reproductive health, and the prostate. NSF Certified for Sport® designation assures athletes that it is tested for compliance with label claims and ensures the absence of more than 200 substances banned by major athletic organisations.

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Designs for Health Zinc Supreme™

This is a powerful antioxidant in a formulation of zinc chelates with other nutrients like vitamins B6 and taurine to provide superior absorption and results. Made from non-GMO ingredients.

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ATP Lab SynerZinc

This powerful antioxidant combines a vegetarian softgel formulation of zinc with other nutrients like copper, selenium, and biotin to provide superior absorption and results.

Magnesium supplements

Magnesium supplements help promote optimal magnesium levels in the body that are required for 300+ biochemical reactions. Human Performance Hub offers various types of magnesium, each with related benefits in cognitive, neurological, and cardiovascular functions.
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ATP Lab SynerMag

Description. ypsi magnesium kapseln supplement image

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YPSI Magnesium Kapseln

These magnesium capsules are the strongest we supply, with 525 mg per capsule. Comprises 3 different magnesium forms, magnesium bisglycinate, magnesium aspartate and magnesium citrate to ensure good bioavailability. Made in Germany, certified gluten-free, and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. ypsi inositol plus magnesium supplement image

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YPSI Inositol plus Magnesium

Mix this effective powder in water or juice to release the benefits of YPSI inositol plus magnesium. Contains a composition of inositol and magnesium, as well as the amino acids L-glycine and L-taurine. 180g per can, 60 servings per can. designs for health magcitrate powder supplement image

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Designs for Health MagCitrate Powder

This great-tasting lemon flavoured powder provides 300 mg of magnesium in each teaspoon serving. Mixes in water or juice for superior absorption. Helps promote bowel relaxation when fibre alone is not enough and supports the ability to sleep. Can be taken along with our Inositol Powder to further promote restful sleep. Made with non-GMO ingredients. designs for health neuromag 90 capsules image

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Designs for Health NeuroMag™

NeuroMag™ uses the unique, patented, chelated mineral Magtein™ containing magnesium chelated to threonic acid (magnesium L-threonate). Its ability to get through the blood-brain barrier to transport magnesium ions to brain cells may support cognitive abilities and decrease common age-related memory decline. Made with non-GMO ingredients. atp lab mind mag supplement image

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ATP Lab Mind Mag

Mind Mag has the unique ability to affect brain levels of magnesium as the only form that can easily cross the blood-brain barrier. By doing so, this form of magnesium lends itself to some very impactful benefits for overall brain function and performance. Recommended for symptoms of short-term memory loss, recovery from head injuries, ADD challenges, or to prevent neurological decline. strength sensei quadra mag image

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Strength Sensei Quadra Mag

Quadra Mag combines highly absorbable forms of magnesium (Glycinate, Glycerophosphate, Taurate, Orotate) to restore magnesium levels, calm the central nervous system, enhance energy metabolism, and optimal muscle function. Also contains an active form of vitamin B6, Pyridoxal 5-Phosphate, to act as a synergistic compound for ultimate health support. strength sensei yin reserve image

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Strength Sensei Yin Reserve

This natural berry-flavoured powder provides 102.5mg of elemental magnesium in one 5g serving mixed in liquid for easy absorption. Combines highly absorbable forms of magnesium with Inositol and L-Theanine to help metabolise carbohydrates, protein and fats, assist in tissue formation, and promote relaxation.

10% Off Zinc and Magnesium Supplements

Get 10% off all zinc and magnesium products when using coupon zincmag10 at checkout.
Roan Author

About the author

Roan Heming is the founder of Human Performance Hub, as well as a Certified Personal Trainer, Coach and Fitness Nutrition Educator, and qualified chef based in Buckinghamshire, UK.

Roan is passionate about helping people improve their health and performance goals. Human Performance Hub is a labour of love because, from personal experience, Roan knows the right supplements work wonders and can mean all the difference for good health.

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