Guide to Magnesium

Magnesium: The Remarkable Mineral

Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and contributes to functions such as muscle and nerve function, energy production, protein synthesis, bone health, even immune system support. Magnesium is an essential mineral, meaning the body can not make it on it’s own as we need to obtain it through food. It is safe to state that the human body cannot live without magnesium. Magnesium is involved with a wide array of crucial development and maintenance of nearly every part of the body.

You would be surprised how much 1 remarkable mineral can do.

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What is Magnesium?

Only an essential mineral that plays a vital role in various physiological processes of the human body! Magnesium plays significant contributions to numerous bodily functions, from boosting your energy levels to soothing your muscles and even protecting your heart’s rhythm.

What functions does magnesium do in the body?

Many! Magnesium is a crucial mineral that is involved in several functions of the body. Magnesium is also one of the building blocks of bones, even our DNA. Here are just some highlights on the important roles magnesium play in the human body:

  • Energy Production– plays a part in the ATP’s production of energy, and essential function of life!
  • Muscle Firing– essential for the contraction and relaxation response of smooth muscle.
  • Builds strong bones– an essential building block for bone structure.
  • Nervous system regulation– supports nerve system transmission and helps prevent over stimulation.
  • Metabolism– maintains blood sugar levels by assisting with insulin secretion.
  • Cardiovascular Health– contributes to strong blood vessels and blood pressure.
  • DNA & RNA synthesis– magnesium ions help create and maintain DNA and RNA structures, assisting in numerous cellular functions.
  • Hormone Regulation– especially with hormones involved in stress and sleep.
  • Immune Function– helps support antioxidants, and assists immune cells and immune system response to harmful invaders.

Could I be magnesium deficient?

You very well could be! The chance of magnesium deficiency cannot be easily ruled out. Since magnesium is used for so many things, symptoms of magnesium deficiency can vary. A lack of magnesium in the diet can even bring on or worsen mental health issues. Some examples of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Insomnia
  • Muscle Cramps and Spasms
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Anxiety, depression, and/or restlessness

The standard American diet (SAD) is severely lacking in magnesium. While found abundantly in many whole foods, refining can often strip away this crucial mineral. For example, white flour has only 16% of its magnesium left after refining. Water in tap or bottle is usually stripped of magnesium, a mineral naturally found in spring water. This is why so many Europeans tend to drink mineral water over purified tap water, which is commonly stripped of most minerals. Water stripped of minerals like magnesium do no hydrate the cells as well.

In fact, a study conducted by the World Health Organization (W.H.O) in 2002 showed that rats drinking water with low mineral content showed changes in kidney function, did not hydrate, and increased cortisol levels.

Poor diet and excess alcohol consumption can also affect magnesium levels. Digestive issues such as Chrons disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or leaky gut can affect the absorption of nutrients such as magnesium. With most Americans living in a state of inflammation, magnesium consumption and absorption have become recent concerns.

Another reason why so many people are magnesium deficient is due to excessive calcium supplementation. Such irony when magnesium deficiency has been known to cause osteoporosis, which affects more than 2 million people in the United States each year. While health officials have run successful campaigns urging the public to get enough calcium, magnesium is even more so important. Calcium competes with magnesium for absorption, which is counterproductive when lumped together in a multivitamin.

Taking magnesium and calcium together may hinder the absorption of one or both. Instead, try to supplement them separately and varied apart from one another.

Natural Sources of Magnesium

Magnesium from food is called elemental magnesium, which the body can break down and use into many forms. It is often far superior and bio-available to magnesium supplements- except if when used for specific purposes. Here is a list of natural sources of magnesium:

  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Fish- such as salmon or mackerel
  • Leafy greens- such as kale, spinach, collard greens, and Swiss Chard
  • Legumes
  • Nuts & Seeds- such as almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
  • Tofu
  • Whole grains*

*More and more people today are finding grains to be irritating to the stomach lining, even commonly used grains used in gluten-free products. The same goes for soy. It is fortunate to know we can get magnesium from other food sources.

Magnesium Spray

What is Magnesium Spray?

Magnesium spray has become trendy on social media, as a way to promote better sleep. It is typically made with magnesium chloride, which absorbs nicely from the bottom of the feet. Magnesium spray is a great alternative to those sensitive to supplements or have digestive problems. If you suffer from insomnia or generally having a hard time falling asleep, magnesium spray is worth trying. It just takes a few spritz and you’re good to go.

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What is the best way to absorb Magnesium?

With so many Americans eating less nutritious food these days, supplements are worth considering. And with how many people in this country that suffer from digestive issues, a magnesium spray may be a better way to absorb magnesium. In fact, the National Institute of Health (NIH) states only 30-40% of dietary magnesium is absorbed! When you purchase a magnesium spray, it is important to note that different forms of magnesium may have varying levels of bio-availability. Some brands may use cheaper compounds, so always check the ingredients. Making your own is easy, and ensures you know exactly what ingredients are in it.

It is also advised to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any magnesium supplement, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications. Your doctor can help decided which type of magnesium supplement to take.

The Different Types of Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium that comes from food is called elemental magnesium, and the body draws it from there to create different kinds of magnesium compounds. Food-sourced nutrients are the ideal go-to, but supplements can offer different benefits. Taking certain types of magnesium supplements can treat or alleviate specific conditions. They range from uses and bio-availability, no two one the same.

Here are some of the most common magnesium supplements:

Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium citrate is made in a laboratory by blending magnesium with citric acid. Eating citrus and magnesium in foods will not make magnesium citrate I’m afraid. It is a better absorbed magnesium, and usually recommended by doctors to those with sensitive stomachs.

Magnesium citrate is commonly used as a laxative to relieve constipation and promote bowel movements. It helps draw water into the intestines, softening stool and easing its passage through the digestive tract. It even helps reduce bloating by cleansing out the large intestine. Magnesium citrate, combined with amitriptyline, has shown to have positive results against fibromyalgia pain in clinical studies.

Photo by: Ron Lach

Magnesium Glycinate

This form of magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system, aiding relaxation and promoting better sleep. In fact one study performed in 2012 on elderly people with insomnia showed improvement with sleep quality after taking 500 mg of magnesium over a 8 week period.

Magnesium glycinate is often used to improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia symptoms. According to the Sleep Foundation, they recommend magnesium glycinate for sleep because how easy it is absorbed. The glycine component in this compound has a relaxing effect on muscles, reducing spasms and post recovery pains. Sounds like a great wind to unwind after a strenuous workout.

Magnesium Oxide

Magnesium oxide can help in cases of diarrhea and severe cases of magnesium deficiency. It can also work as an antacid, relieving stomach pain and indigestion. Though high in elemental magnesium, it is unfortunately one of the least absorptive forms of magnesium. Magnesium oxide in fact is also used in industrial settings such as: cement fixing, making of medications, and adjusting water PH in municipal water systems. It is mainly used as a supplement though.

Magnesium Malate

Magnesium malate is known for supporting energy production. Magnesium does this by combining with malic acid and is used by the Krebs cycle to create ATP in the mitochondria of the cell. Thought to enhance ATP synthesis, magnesium malate helps assist the body’s primary energy source.

Magnesium malate has been shown on average to help patients with rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Studies have shown nearly half of people with these illnesses are deficient in magnesium and supplementing with magnesium malate will help boost ATP production.

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Magnesium Threonate

Magnesium L-threonate has gained recent attention due to its potential cognitive benefits. This magnesium compound benefits the brain in a variety of ways, improved sleep to less anxiety, better neuroplasticity- even showing promising help with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Some studies suggest that magnesium threonate may improve cognitive function and memory by crossing the blood-brain barrier more effectively. This is incredibly hopeful in the field of mental health.

Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt)

Magnesium sulfate, commonly known as Epsom salt, is used in baths for relaxation and to soothe sore muscles. It is also antiseptic, and can help clean wounds. When dissolved in warm water, Epsom salt releases magnesium ions, which can be absorbed through the skin and promote muscle relaxation. This type of magnesium powder can help potted plants to ingrown toes!

Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium chloride is used in topical applications and trans-dermal magnesium products, but is mainly used for industrial purposes. Magnesium chloride can be absorbed through the skin, providing relief for sore muscles, cramps, and improving overall magnesium levels. Magnesium chloride is commonly used to de-icing the roads during winter.

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Now you have a better understanding of magnesium. It is a remarkable mineral that we use constantly, whether awake or asleep. And now you know what foods are good sources of magnesium, and which supplements to consider with your healthcare provider. If you liked this article, then check out some other posts we recommend!

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