Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body. Every cell has it and needs it to function properly.
However, most people have low magnesium, even those who eat well. It is estimated 70-90% of people are deficient in magnesium. Both my son and I were tested and we were deficient.
Why’s Magnesium So Important?
Magnesium orchestrates the functioning of 80 metabolic processes by activating enzymes and compounds. It is found in more that 300 different enzymes and is required for their chemical reactions.
- regulates enzymes
- manages the electrical current for nerves
- regulates muscles and nerve function.
It is necessary for:
- producing and transporting energy
- synthesizing protein
- transmitting nerve signs
- Relaxing muscles “the relaxation mineral”
- assisting enzymes
- helps to clean out metals and toxins
- helps protect from heart attack, heart disease and stroke
- regulating blood sugar
- preventing unhealthy calcium build up in heart and kidneys
- regulating blood pressure
Some experts point to case studies where depression and accompanying mental illness showed rapid recovery using Mg. They believe further studies should be done.
Mg works similar to statins on cholesterol without the toxic effects.
Signs of Magnesium Deficiency
Deficiency can be shown as-
- panic attacks
- blood clots
- bowel issues
- depression (lack of serotonin)
- migraines / headaches
- low blood sugar
- fatigue=enzymes not working
- insulin build up
- inhibits normal blood pressure
- kidney stones
- bone loss
- pain and numbness in fingers
- tooth decay
- calcium doesn’t work w/o magnesium ,
- muscles = cramps, spasms, twitches, neck/back pain
- nerves = migraines, cramps, foot cramps, vertigo
- and more!
Magnesium deficiency is hard on your heart. Magnesium aides in:
- protecting arteries from potential damage and accumulation of toxins and free radicals
- proper cell division
- cell repair allowing for proper maintenance of heart muscle cells
- dilates blood vessels making it easier the heart to pump blood
- enhances immune function
- helps regulate blood pressure -to normalize blood pressure lower salt, raise potassium for Mg to work.
- prevents formation of blood clots
- regulates calcium
- without proper levels of magnesium we are subject to heart attacks.
Ways Magnesium is Depleted from our Bodies
It is depleted from the soil in many farms so we are not getting as much from our produce.
Excess calcium and vitamin D deplete magnesium. Take extra Mg.
Magnesium is lost during processing of foods. It is removed during processing but seldom replaced.
Stress depletes the body of magnesium by the release of stress hormones. Magnesium is needed to buffer those stress hormones, using it up.
We need stomach acid to use magnesium. Acid blockers and antacids reduce stomach acid.
High protein diets deplete Mg.
Excessive sweating from exercise and hot flashes deplete magnesium.
Excessive exercise makes it worse.
Absorption is blocked (gets eliminated, not absorbed) by processed meat, alcohol, carbonated beverages, floridated/soft water, oxalic acid (spinach, chard, rubbarb, chocolate, tea, coffee) phylic acid (soy, hull of bran seeds and grains)
Many medications cause the body to lose magnesium. Don’t take it with
- beta blockers
- diabetes medications
- proton pump inhibitors
- cholesterol drugs
- HRT and oral contraceptives
- high blood pressure medications
Some medications may requires you separating intake by a few hours, some may require you to take a higher dosage.
Coffee and tea flushes it from your body. Don’t take it when you are drinking those things
Evaluate your lifestyle and how likely your activities cause deficiency. Discuss adjusting your intake with your doctor.
Testing is not reliable, however the best one is the blood ionized magnesium test. It is the most accurate and proven. It uses a special machine to isolate magnesium ions. This is the least common test since not many places perform it.
The most commonly used test is the serum concentration test. This test is for Mg in your blood. This is not the most accurate test because most of our Mg exists in our cells. Only < 1% is in our serum.
Magnesium red blood cell blood test (RBC-Mg) checks Mg levels in your cells. This is more accurate than the serum test.
You want to be optimal, not normal. so anything under 5.5 indicates deficiency (ranges vary according to your lab).
Doctors generally don’t screen for magnesium levels, even if you ask. I brought the name of the test to my pediatrician from my holistic doctor and she still would not test for it, saying she did not know how to interpret the results.
Bioavailability is the ability of your body to absorb the mineral. Some forms have a high bioavailability, others poor bioavailability. Taking with B6 can increase the bioavailability.
Forms of Magnesium
Magnesium comes in many forms, which can be confusing. You can read multiple sources on magnesium and they might each recommend a different form. Whether it is oxide, chelated, taurate, malate, glycinate, chloride, orotate, l-threonate, citrate or lactate.
Everyone has different needs. Try some different forms and see which on works best for you.
All forms are good for general health, joints and muscles.
Carbonate– Good absorption. Turns into Mg chloride when it mixes with our stomach acid. Has antacid properties. Good for indigestion and acid reflux. Also known as chalk used in rock climbing and gymnastics.
Chloride– High absorption rate. Take externally for feet and skin issues. Can boost a sluggish metabolism.
Citrate– cheap and high absorption. Good for gastrointestinal health (makes you poop). Might want to avoid this if you already have loose bowels.
Glycinate– One of the most bioavailable and absorbable forms. Best for correcting deficiencies. Has a calming, relaxing effect. Good for chronic pain and muscle tightness.
L-Threonate– Newest form. Studies show improvement in brain function and memory.
Lactate– Higher bioavailability. Mostly used for digestive issues.
Malate– Good for those suffering from fatigue. Being studied for use with fibromyalgia.
Orotate– Best form. Can penetrate cell membranes and deliver to the nucleus and mitochondria. Most absorbable. Being studied for heart health.
Oxide– Most common form sold because it is inexpensive. Poorest absorption rate. Used in milk of magnesia.
Sulfate– (aka Epsom salts) Good for constipation, but an unsafe for dietary Mg. Don’t use on regular basis.
Taurate– Best for cardiovascular issues. Known to prevent arrhythmias and guard from heart attack damage.
Chelated Magnesium means the mineral is bound to a group of amino acids. This allows them to move from the stomach to the small intestine intact. This allows for more absorption. These are generally the most expensive forms.
Take on empty stomach
Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences recommends intakes for adults males over 19- 400-420 mg/day. Females over 19- 310-320 mg/day. These are minimum amounts for minimum health, not optimal.
Take 300 mg 2x/day to fix something.
If stools become loose, cut back dosage or spread out over day.
Excess intake- unlikely unless you take huge amounts- loose bowels, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, confusion, slow heart rate, deficiencies of other minerals.
Because it is excreted renally, take with caution if you have kidney disease. See your doctor.
Some Good Food Sources
- leafy greens- spinach, chard, kale
- green vegetables,
- pumpkin seeds
- sunflower seeds
- unprocessed wheat germ
- wild rice (rice bran)
- cocoa powder (dark chocolate)
- blackstrap molasses
Eat more raw food to avoid processing.