By Anne Salazar, Lead Clinical Herbalist
Magnesium is an extremely important mineral but unfortunately is quite deficient in our food sources today. The average American diet supplies less than two-thirds of the magnesium required by the body. 1,2 This is in part due to the foods we select to eat but also due to the changes in food production. Farming with pesticides has made it even less prevalent in food sources.3
Magnesium affects mitochondrial functioning, enzyme activity, and is involved in protein, carbohydrate, and lipid synthesis. The demand for magnesium increases with high-intensity exercise or anything that is dehydrating. It can also be depleted by some prescription drugs as well as some over-the-counter drugs, like calcium, which disproportionately affects women.
Deficiency can result in muscle weakness, spasms/cramps, mitochondrial damage and can include symptoms such as:
- Muscle spasms, from feet cramps to chest pain (due to spasms in your heart muscle)
- Headaches including migraines
- Feeling constantly fatigued or weak
- Anxiety and edginess
- Loss of appetite
- Quick exhaustion during exercise
- Insomnia: Clinical studies show magnesium supplements are very effective for improving sleep quality and depth.4
Long term, chronic deficiency has been linked to:
- Heart arrhythmias and heart attack
- Kidney stones
- Blood clots
- Inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome
- Numbness and tingling
- High cholesterol
- Memory issues: Animal studies show that magnesium supplementation can help reverse this.5
- Heart disease: The Framingham health study has shown that self-reported magnesium intake is associated with less arterial calcification and therefore less risk of heart attack and stroke – particularly in women.6
Your body stores around half of its magnesium in the cells of your tissues and organs. The other 49% combines with calcium and is stored in your bones to keep them strong and healthy. This leaves just a small fraction of around 1% of free magnesium in your blood. This is why blood tests are not very helpful for checking magnesium because they don’t show the levels in your cells. [Remedy does offer micronutrient testing which uses a more accurate testing technique to assess blood levels]
Magnesium supports the burning of energy and metabolism. It relaxes muscles, regulates body temperature, builds bones, produces glutathione (the ‘mother’ of antioxidants), and filters out heavy metals (ie: mercury, aluminum, lead).
So….obviously Magnesium is ESSENTIAL!!
Magnesium comes in a variety of forms. Knowing how these forms work will help you choose the right one for you. Read more about the specific types of magnesium below. All of the following are chelated and readily bioavailable (avoid magnesium oxide, as it is very hard to assimilate):
Magnesium Citrate - A commonly found type of magnesium, this form of magnesium will assist with muscle relaxation and will slightly cross the blood brain barrier for neurotransmitter help. However, it also loosens stool. It does this by taking water from the large intestine and depositing it into the stool. So if you do not need stool softening, this is not the one for you!
Magnesium Glycinate - This form will help with mind and body relaxation, without the stool softening of the citrate form. Very popular for aiding in sleep, etc!
Magnesium Malate- is commonly used for neuromuscular excitability, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Magnesium L-Threonate is the new kid on the block. This very helpful form completely crosses the blood brain barrier. It is helpful with issues such as chronic migraines, concussion damage, focus, depression, memory loss, etc.
Please come in and talk to us about your needs. We are always happy to assist!! If you are looking for more custom tailored recommendations please consider booking an herbalist consultation or doing a micronutrient test which includes a 30 minute consultation with a pharmacist to review your results!
- Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1997.
- Altura BM, Altura BT. Magnesium: Forgotten Mineral Cardiovascular Biology and Therogenesis. In: International Magnesium Symposium. New Perspectives in Magnesium Research. London: Springer-Verlag; 2007:239-260
- Crinnion WJ. Organic foods contain higher levels of certain nutrients, lower levels of pesticides, and may provide health benefits for the consumer. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Apr;15(1):4-12. PMID: 20359265.