Magnesium is essential and must be ingested through food and supplements. It's the 4th most abundant mineral in the human body and is involved in 700-800 metabolic/enzymatic reactions. Every cell in the body contains Magnesium and needs it to function adequately.
It regulates many biochemical processes, including protein synthesis, nerve and muscle function, blood sugar control, inflammation, stress reduction, sleep, and blood pressure regulation. This is also why Magnesium is implicated in many different symptoms and dozens of health conditions. In women, this vital mineral may even aid in reducing menopausal symptoms and is involved in supporting strong bones.
Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is fairly common, with approximately 70-80% of adults being deficient and utterly unaware of it. Some of the most prevalent signs and symptoms of low Magnesium are:
*Headaches, poor concentration, migraines, nervousness
*Muscle aches, pain, cramping, tingling of hands and feet
*Many sleep and stress-related issues
*Anxiety, depression, and cognitive disturbances
*Cardiac arrhythmias and heart-related issues
*Blood sugar dysregulation and insulin resistance
*Low Vitamin D status
It's hard to pinpoint why people have low magnesium levels, but some of the more obvious reasons are:
*Poor diet and eating high amounts of ultra process foods
*High sugar/refined carbohydrates in the diet
*low amounts of Magnesium in our drinking water; some filtering processes remove it
*Excess loss from the urine exacerbated by high alcohol consumption, diarrhea, and sweating
*Anti-nutrients; tannins, phytic acid, and oxalic acid in food binds Magnesium, thus preventing its absorption
*Age, Seniors; intestinal absorption decreases with age
*Vitamin D supplementation; taking large doses of vitamin D can intensify Magnesium deficiency (significantly if already deficient)
Measuring magnesium levels is difficult because over 50% of Magnesium is stored in the skeletal system, and the rest is found in muscle, soft tissues, and bodily fluids. Serum Magnesium (blood) is NOT an accurate measure because only 1-2% is stored in the blood. Red blood cell Magnesium is better but still lacks a complete picture. Some alternative health practitioners use a hair mineral analysis, but the evidence is lacking to prove this method's effectiveness.
One thing we must remember is that a chronic deficiency of Magnesium can occur without standard lab values being out of range. This deficiency may potentially harm the health and well-being of the individual.
This is a commonly used form of Magnesium and has good bioavailability compared to oxide. It is used naturally to support digestion, specifically constipation, acid indigestion, and migraines. Since citrate is not actively absorbed, it can cause loose stools or digestive upset at higher doses.
Excellent bioavailability and minimal laxative effects. It contains two glycine molecules for 1 Magnesium molecule. Glycine is an amino acid known for its calming effect and supporting cellular function. This is an excellent option for chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, stress reduction, and muscle relaxation.
Contains malic acid (amino acid). Malate plays a crucial role in our cellular energy cycle and thus can improve energy production. This form has been studied in fibromyalgia and people with chronic fatigue as it's been shown to help relieve muscle pain and tender points. It is also well absorbed causing minimal digestive upset, if any at all.
Orotate includes orotic acid, a natural substance involved in your body's construction of DNA. It has been studied specifically for heart health and has been shown to help heart cells repair and improve their function In clinical trials. This form has improved heart failure, high blood pressure, angina, exercise performance, tension headaches, and dizziness.
Often found in trace minerals in liquid form. It may improve blood pressure and has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression scores in 6 weeks. This form is not bound to an amino acid and, therefore, can cause loose stool.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) dosage for Magnesium is between 310-400mg per day. This is the minimum, but many individuals require more or maybe even less in some instances. It is essential to always consult a health care practitioner before starting any new supplement to ensure it is safe and effective for you.
Food Sources Of Magnesium
Despite a decrease in the amount of Magnesium in our some soils today, there are still some foods that provide a valuable amount of Magnesium. A variety of plant-based foods is key to ensuring adequate amounts of high magnesium foods in the diet. The foods that have the highest amounts are:
*Leafy Greens: (spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens & mustard greens)
*Pumpkin seeds - 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds equals 317mg
*Nuts (Brazil and almonds)
*Some grains (quinoa & buckwheat)
Top Health Benefits of Magnesium
We know that a Magnesium deficiency is often linked to numerous health conditions, and supplementing with this mineral has shown positive outcomes. This becomes increasingly important as adult men and women reach midlife. We will look at the most researched and well-known health benefits of Magnesium.
Reduces Inflammation & Chronic Pain
Magnesium is often overlooked in favor of other anti-inflammatory remedies, but research shows it has a powerful impact on reducing inflammation. Research review results indicate that Magnesium supplementation reduced CRP (a marker of inflammation) among individuals with elevated levels. When Magnesium levels are depleted, there's a potential increase in the activation of white blood cells and an increased production of inflammatory cytokines and free radicals. Pain is primarily a result of inflammation. Tight and tense muscles lead to trigger points and irritating nerve endings, which can then send pain signals back to the brain. Magnesium plays a crucial role in regulating & relaxing muscle and nerve function.
Magnesium is commonly deficient in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes because of increased loss through the urine and lower dietary intake (high insulin levels cause this loss). Low Magnesium levels are linked to insulin resistance and inflammation. Research has shown that insulin receptors depend on Magnesium to function properly and respond to insulin. Taking a magnesium supplement for more than four months improved insulin resistance in people with and without diabetes, so it may be an option for people with diabetes. It is essential to consult with your doctor before taking any supplement or medication.
Appropriate and optimal Magnesium levels may also be a critical factor in preventing metabolic syndrome but more research is needed. What we do know is it is essential for proper metabolic function.
Improves Bone Health & Activates Vitamin D
50-60% of Magnesium is stored in the bones. We need Vitamin D as a necessary component in bone health, and Magnesium is required to convert Vitamin D into its active form so it can turn on calcium absorption. We need adequate Magnesium to absorb, metabolize and distribute calcium properly. When calcium is elevated in the blood, it stimulates the secretion of a hormone called calcitonin and suppresses the secretion of parathyroid hormone (PTH). Both of these hormones regulate calcium levels in our bones and soft tissues, and thus are related to osteoporosis and arthritis. Magnesium has been shown to slow the rate of bone turnover.
Improves Sleep & Reduces Stress
Magnesium supports deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA (an amino acid serving as a neurotransmitter in the brain ), leading to increased relaxation, reduced stress, calm mood, and improved sleep. Supplementing with Magnesium can improve sleep quality, help fight insomnia, and may help with restless leg syndrome. It also may reduce oxidative stress (free radicals), which damages our cells and cause inflammation. Magnesium is vital because it prevents the physical tension that leads to stress and downgrades the biological response to stressful situations (reducing cortisol, a stress hormone, levels).
Cardiovascular Function & Blood Pressure
Magnesium positively improves cardiovascular health, with low levels corresponding to an increase in heart disease incidence. Low levels of Magnesium have been implicated in endothelial (inner lining of blood vessels) dysfunction and inflammation, which often leads to vascular hardening and high blood pressure. Magnesium can counter these effects by causing the blood vessel walls to relax. Magnesium supplementation can decrease systolic blood pressure by 3 to 4 mmHg and diastolic by 2 to 3 mmHg and may also improve blood vessel stiffness which is critical for proper blood flow.
Magnesium is essential for producing thyroid hormone and helps convert the less active T4 thyroid hormone to the more active T3. It helps manufacture steroid hormones, including progesterone, estrogen & testosterone, making it helpful for PMS, migraines, and menopause.
Magnesium promotes sleep, and this alone is crucial for hormone production. During sleep, we see a surge of the DHEA & growth hormone hormones, which help convert an amino acid called tryptophan into the important mood-boosting hormone serotonin. Serotonin also makes melatonin, which is needed for good quality sleep.
Improves Digestive Health & Function
We need Magnesium to perform the mechanics of digestion, make hydrochloric acid (stomach acid), repair & protect our digestive organs (esophagus, stomach, intestines, pancreas & colon) and make digestive enzymes so we can digest carbs, proteins & fats. Magnesium also keeps our pancreas healthy and has been shown to prevent pancreatitis & pancreatic cancer. To expel waste products produced by our organs and eliminate our excess hormones, we NEED to have regular bowel movements. Magnesium helps relieve constipation and aids in keeping us regular.
Helps with Acid Reflux. A Magnesium deficiency makes the pyloric sphincter fail to relax and impairs efficient emptying of the stomach. Food remains in the stomach longer, creates pressure on the lower esophagus, and causes acid reflux.
It's hard to overstate having adequate levels of this vital mineral. Diet quality and conscious effort to eat a variety of high Magnesium, high fiber foods are needed to maintain healthy levels. Supplementation is necessary if one cannot preserve magnesium needs through the diet.