Magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions in the body.
It is estimated that approximately 80% (or more) of Americans are not getting enough magnesium and may be suffering from magnesium deficiency.
Some things that can deplete magnesium levels in the body include:
- Prescription drugs
- Modern farming practices that tax the soil, depleting it of magnesium
- Fluoride in drinking water (binds with magnesium)
- Consumption of caffeine, sugar, processed food, alcohol, and phytic acid
- Birth control pills and insulin
So basically all of us are being robbed of magnesium, in one way or another.
Potential Benefits of Magnesium
Magnesium is critically involved in cell energetics.
Magnesium Is Basic To Cancer Treatment – Dr. Mark Sircus
Magnesium Can Help Prevent Chronic Disease – Leah Shainhouse, R.D.
Magnesium – How It Affects Your Sleep – Dr. Michael Breus
Magnesium appears to play a role in the prevention and/or management of many chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
And if your liver detox pathways are operating at suboptimal levels like mine (this is actually not too uncommon, due to mutations on the CBS gene), then ammonia is likely building up in your system (ammonia is a byproduct of the metabolism of protein), as your liver is incapable of filtering it out quickly enough before it floods the bloodstream and reaches your brain. In this case, magnesium “shields” are extra important for your brain.
Magnesium is also very important as it helps to stabilize the blood brain barrier. When blood sugar is imbalanced it causes the body to use up more magnesium and leaves the brain vulnerable to ammonia toxicity. Magnesium is also important for glutamine metabolism by activating glutamine synthetase, an enzyme that helps to remove ammonia from the cells.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
According to David Perlmutter, MD, magnesium deficiency symptoms can include:
- Memory problems
- Loss of Appetite
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle cramps
- Difficulty swallowing
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
And magnesium-deficiency-related clinical conditions can include:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Colon Cancer
- Parkinson’s disease
- Sleep disorders
- Migraine headaches
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Chest pain (angina)
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Coronary artery disease
- Type II diabetes
Dr. Perlmutter has also compiled a long list of drugs (including magnesium hydroxide, an antacid) that deplete magnesium stores in the body.
Magnesium is needed to stimulate the hormone calcitonin which draws calcium out of the muscles and soft tissues and into the bones. This helps explain why magnesium helps lower the risk of heart attack, osteoporosis, arthritis and kidney stones. – Katie Wells, 10 Signs of Magnesium Deficiency.
Magnesium deficiency can also lead to low serotonin levels (magnesium aids in the conversion of tryptophan to the neurotransmitter serotonin).
Magnesium is also critically involved in the activation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the main source of cell energy). ATP must be bound to a magnesium ion to be biologically active.
Even as I write this, I’m realizing I probably need to take more magnesium, as I still have several symptoms of magnesium deficiency (though fewer than I used to). Right now, I typically take 450-750 mg/day, which is more than the recommended daily amount, but then, celiac disease can lead to magnesium deficiency (as it reduces the body’s ability to absorb nutrients). Maintaining adequate nutrition is a particular challenge for me, especially as I can’t eat most high-magnesium foods:
- Swiss Chard
- Dark Chocolate
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Black Beans
Yep, none of those. 🙂
Tiger nuts are a decent source of magnesium, though, and thankfully, that is a food I can tolerate. But I still have to supplement with magnesium. And I don’t even drink city water. If I were regularly consuming fluoride-rich water, I’d need to supplement with more magnesium yet (and purchase a water filter)!
Best Forms of Magnesium
The “right” or “best” form will depend on your individual health needs. However, there are some forms (like magnesium oxide) that offer poor bioavailability and/or are basically junk.
I’m a fan of magnesium malate and citrate.
Dr. Traj Nibber, on magnesium malate:
This less well-known combination has been studied for use in fibromyalgia. Since malate is a substrate in the cellular energy cycle, it can help improve ATP production; there is some preliminary evidence that it may reduce muscle pain and tender points in fibromyalgia patients.
And on magnesium citrate:
A commonly used form that has a good bioavailability compared to oxide. It is also very rapidly absorbed in the digestive tract but it does have a stool loosening effect. This form is found in many supplements and remains a solid option for delivering magnesium into the body.
Check out the full article here, where Dr. Nibber discusses several forms of magnesium, and the possible benefits or side effects of various types.
In addition to researching and choosing the best magnesium compound for your body, you also have to decide what form(s) – such as liquid, capsule, powder, and/or bath salts – work best for you.
Katie Wells (blogger at Wellness Mama) uses topical magnesium (magnesium spray), and recommends this for better absorption. I personally have found that magnesium spray causes my skin to itch (though perhaps a different form/brand would work. Not sure I’ve tried the brand she recommends). However, I can tolerate magnesium chloride baths, another method for topical absorption.
These are the salts I use:
I also take magnesium in capsule form. Of the various brands and forms of magnesium I’ve tried, these are a couple that have worked well so far (both mag citrate), and my favorite is the one I’m using now by Pure Encapsulations (simple ingredient list, and doesn’t bother my gut to the degree that the mag citrate powder by Natural Vitality did).
With all the toxins and environmental issues/stressors to which we are exposed today, our magnesium need is likely to be much higher than it used to be. The RDA (recommended daily amount) may not be enough (I’m already taking more than the RDA for my gender/age, and it seems that even that may not be enough [although I definitely notice a difference when I do – or don’t – take it. If I skip magnesium for very long, I feel extremely achy, tired, and weak, and my face begins to look more aged.])
Magnesium helps relieve muscle aches (at least to a degree) for me, improves sleep quality and energy levels, and aids in the process of skin repair.
Magnesium is a mineral used by every organ in your body, especially your heart, muscles, and kidneys. If you suffer from unexplained fatigue or weakness, abnormal heart rhythms or even muscle spasms and eye twitches, low levels of magnesium could be to blame.
Magnesium Products I Currently Use
Why Do We Need Magnesium? (this piece also mentions some drugs that could interact with magnesium)
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or health professional. Just someone who’s had a lot of health problems, done a lot of research, and has been gradually learning/discovering solutions (read more about my health journey in #myjourneytorecovery). Please do not treat any of this information as medical advice, and consult your physician regarding any health concerns and before trying any products or remedies.
© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved