Magnesium - A Powerful Mineral to Heal your Body and Mind
Magnesium is one of the most ubiquitous minerals in the body, found in the bones, teeth, muscles and vital organs including the heart and kidneys. Magnesium is needed in over 300 different biochemical reactions including glucose metabolism, glutathione production, DNA creation and regulation of cholesterol production. It is also one of the most important co-factors for biochemical reactions, meaning it not only is needed on its own but also alongside other vitamins and minerals.
Getting Enough Magnesium?
Approximately 80% of Americans are not getting enough magnesium and may be deficient. In addition to not consuming enough magnesium-rich foods, other factors contributing to a lack of magnesium include consuming certain foods that affect the absorption of magnesium, current farming practices, lack of vitamin D and K2 and stress.
Seaweed and green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and Swiss chard, and nuts and seeds, such as almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and black walnuts, are excellent sources of magnesium.
However, most food grown today is sprayed with magnesium deficient fertilizer such as super-phosphate, which effectively block the uptake and utilization of minerals. As a result, it can be quite difficult to find truly magnesium-rich food. Cooking and processing further depletes magnesium.
Certain foods can actually influence the body’s absorption of magnesium. Grains contain phytic acid which inhibits process of absorbing magnesium. Other foods that can inhibit magnesium absorption are alcohol and sugar.
Additionally, magnesium needs to be balanced with vitamin D and vitamin K2, as these are needed to properly absorb magnesium.
Stress also deteriorates magnesium. During times of stress, the body liberates magnesium stores to be used for various emergency biological processes that are required for fight or flight. If these magnesium stores are not required, they are excreted in urine and lost.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to test the amount of magnesium in your tissues since only 1% of magnesium in the body is distributed in the blood, making a simple sample of magnesium from a blood test highly inaccurate. However, early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, headache, nausea, fatigue, and weakness. An ongoing magnesium deficiency can lead to more serious symptoms such as: numbness and tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms and coronary spasms.
It is imperative that the combination of magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin K2 are properly balanced in order to be safe and effective. Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role of building strong bones by moving calcium to areas of the body it should be and removing it from areas it should not be. Vitamin D is important for absorbing calcium and phosphorus into the bones as well as facilitating communication among cells. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is used to provide structure and strength for bones.
Lack of balance between these nutrients is why calcium supplements have become associated with increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, and why some people experience vitamin D toxicity. Since vitamin K2 brings calcium to the right areas, a K2 deficiency can result in problems since calcium is being added to the wrong places. Similarly, mega doses of vitamin D without supplementing with magnesium and vitamin K2 could lead to vitamin D toxicity and magnesium deficiency symptoms. Magnesium is essential for the body to transform vitamin D from a biologically unusable form to a usable form. Magnesium also helps our bodies absorb calcium much better.
All four of these vitamins and minerals work synergistically with each other. So, if you are taking any of the four, make sure you keep the other three into consideration.
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Type II Diabetes
Magnesium has a host of healing properties. Below are just some of the ways Magnesium helps the body:
- Anti-aging. Magnesium appears to boost DHEA levels, which is a steroid hormone that fights premature or accelerated aging
- Insulin Sensitivity. Magnesium is critically involved in the process of secreting insulin to deal with blood glucose. Magnesium deficiency has been associated with insulin resistance, poor glucose tolerance and impaired insulin secretion
- Blood Pressure. Magnesium inhibits the constriction of blood vessels, a major factor in high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks
- Anti-Inflammatory. Magnesium plays a part in controlling the celullar processes that lead to inflammation. Inflammation can lead to a large number of diseases ranging from depression to heart disease. By controlling inflammation, magnesium can address a wide range of diseases
- Cancer. There is a definite association between low magnesium levels and rates of certain cancer. Additionally, U.S. and Swedish studies show that higher level of magnesium consumption may correlate with lower level of colon cancer. While it is still too early to tell, there is still a possible link
- Oxidative Stress. Magnesium fights oxidative stress by protecting cells from heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, and increasing the ability of other antioxidants such as vitamin E and C to fight oxidative stress themselves. Magnesium deficiency increases production of free radicals and decreases production of the single greatest weapon against oxidative stress – glutathione
- PMS. PMS is associated with low magnesium and low magnesium in proportion to calcium. This may be a result from magnesium’s ability to increase serotonin or relax muscles which could treat cramping
- Migraines. Studies show correlation between low levels of magnesium and certain types of headaches
- Osteoporosis. Maintaining appropriate magnesium levels is one of most important factors (along with vitamin D and K) for preventing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS). RLS is extremely uncomfortable and tends to strike when a person is trying to sleep. Magnesium has been shown to treat RLS
Dosage and Available Forms
Magnesium has a range of forms and is either administered orally (tablet or capsule) or transdermally (through skin).
While you should try to get as much as possible from whole foods, this may not be enough to treat an illness. Supplementation comes in a multitude of forms
- Magnesium Glycinate – a chelated form generally believed to be the most bioavailable. Chelation is the process of making any dietary supplement easier for our bodies to absorb. Since this form is the most bioavailable and easiest to absorb, it is the ideal supplement for those who are suffering from a deficiency
- Magnesium Carbonate - contains 45% magnesium. This form is idea for people suffering from hyperacidity as this form has carbonate molecules that reduce acidity
- Magnesium Oxide - a non-chelated form that is the most commonly used in supplements due to low cost. However, even though this combination contains a large proportion of magnesium compared to the oxide molecule, it has poor bioavailability and readily causes loose stools
- Magnesium Citrate – form with citric acid that is also used as laxative, making it also an ideal form from those suffering from constipation
- Magnesium Threonate – shows initial promise due to its superior ability to get inside the mitochondria (cellular powerhouse). May have the ability to improve memory and brain function, but it is too early to tell conclusively
- Magnesium Sulfate – often used as an intravenous preparation but it is not used in oral formulations; most commonly found in Epsom salts since it has some absorbability through the skin
- Magnesium Chloride – form used in magnesium oils and intravenous preparations
- Magnesium Lactate – form most commonly used in treating digestive issues
- Magnesium Taurate – both magnesium and the amino acid taurine share the ability to improve cardiac function; each has a potentiating effect on insulin sensitivity and also a calming effect on neuromuscular excitability. The actions of both have striking similarities when it comes to cardiovascular health. They both have blood pressure reducing effects, stabilize nerve cells, improve the contraction of the heart muscle and have an anti-thrombotic effect
For dosage, you can start with around 200-400 mgs (depending on the form) per day and work up. A good gauge of how much is too much is when u start to experience diarrhea. Too much magnesium will cause a laxative effect. Below are sample dosages for certain ailments
Magnesium Type / Dosage
1,830-3,625 mg Magnesium Citrate daily divided into several doses for 3 months OR 400 mg magnesium oxide twice daily
8.75-25 mg diluted in water at a ratio of 290 g of magnesium per 5 ml water OR 2.48-4.8 g of magnesium hybdroxide with ratio of 400 mg water per 5 ml water OR 10-30 grams of magnesium sulfate
400-1,200 mg of magnesium hydroxide 4x a day OR 800 mg of magnesium oxide daily
PMS (Bloating, cramps, aches, angry outbursts, skin problems)
33 mg of magnesium oxide daily
300 mg magnesium hydroxide daily for 6 months
2.3 mg of magnesium per pound of body weight
300 mg of magnesium oxide twice daily with 800 mg of calcium and 50-100 mg of vitamin B6 daily