Is This Your Missing Link To Wellness?
Magnesium benefits the body in so many ways. Many of us don’t know the importance of this magical mineral but a magnesium deficiency can cause lots of problems in the body from heart disease to restless leg syndrome.
For years, leg cramps and troubled thoughts disturbed my sleep, and my body would take a long time to recover after an exercise session. Old school athletic beliefs pointed to lactic acid “syndrome” as the cause of my issues and potassium as the relief. However, the potassium supplements I loaded up on didn’t provide much help. When I began studying nutrition and working in the health field, I discovered how magnesium benefits our bodies and how magnesium, one of the most abundant minerals in our bodies, was sorely missing from my regimen. I wasn’t clear on which type of magnesium I needed, or how many milligrams to take, or which foods packed the most magnesium punch. It was only after I delved into serious research on this vital mineral that I was able to see the results I was hoping for.
Only minor amounts of magnesium are lost in sweat under normal conditions, yet prolonged exertion in hot and humid environments can decrease serum magnesium, which could prove to be clinically significant in individuals with marginal magnesium status. Apparently, strenuous exercise increases urinary and sweat losses that may increase magnesium requirements. An updated research study by The National Institutes of Health claims, “Based on dietary surveys and recent human experiments, a magnesium intake less than 260 mg/day for male and 220 mg/day for female athletes may result in a magnesium-deficient status.” From then on, I started taking 500 mg. of magnesium glycenate with a glass of water after a strenuous, sweaty exercise session, and my muscles were less crampy.
Additionally, although magnesium levels may return to normal after some training sessions, over a prolonged period of regular exertion, magnesium levels may remain under par. Paired with potassium, magnesium benefits can alleviate any discomfort with post-training or strenuous exercise.
Robert Slovak from Water & Wellness Solutions explains:
Magnesium is a difficult mineral to obtain in the diet, and medical and nutritional research continually discovers new physiological roles for magnesium. It’s the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and it’s alarming that nearly 75 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t even get the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for magnesium (420 mg men and 320 mg women). I personally take a wide variety of different forms of magnesium which makes it easy for my body to assimilate exactly what it needs. This is the innate wisdom of the cells.”
Magnesium benefits the whole body, to the cells.
We, as a society, tend to be deficient in this fourth most important mineral in our body, due to poor crop soil and poor diet (including processed foods). Magnesium benefits metabolic function. From muscle spasms and heart imbalances to sleep problems and blood pressure control, magnesium keeps the body’s internal structure harmonious and properly balanced. Heart, muscle, and nerve cells use electrolytes to carry electrical impulses to other cells. Our body’s electrolyte levels tend to alter, though, as do the water levels in our body. Electrolyte levels tend to also change in relation to each other and in relation to other vitamins and minerals in the body. This is why magnesium is so crucial in our everyday health regimen. Symptoms of a magnesium deficiency, according to University of Maryland Medical Center, may include:
- Agitation and anxiety
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- Sleep disorders
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle spasm and weakness
- Poor nail growth
Slovak explains the magnesium benefits:
Most people supplement magnesium for heart and bone health but that is a far cry from all the complex functions of magnesium in the human body. Magnesium is essential for brain function, as a cofactor that activates more than 400 enzymes, and biochemically participates in literally hundreds of metabolic, molecular synthesis and neurological functions.
Here are the top six magnesium benefits and reasons to devour magnesium-filled foods or add a quality supplement to your routine.
1. Reverse Osteoporosis
Magnesium has proven to help reverse osteoporosis — and further studies are continuing to support this claim. According to Carolyn Dean, M.D., ND, author of The Magnesium Miracle, and a medical advisory board member for the Nutritional Magnesium Association:
Medicine hasn’t regarded magnesium as having any beneficial properties because [clinicians] just do a serum magnesium test. Only 1 percent of the total body magnesium is in the bloodstream so, if you just check that, you’re not getting any indication of what’s going on in the cells.
Hundreds of enzyme systems require magnesium, and standard serum magnesium tests don’t provide a true gauge of magnesium levels in the body. Dean recommends a magnesium red blood cell test to adequately assess magnesium levels.
The serum magnesium will always try to stay in a normal range to help keep the heart functioning. If the serum magnesium goes down, the body’s biofeedback mechanisms draw magnesium from the bones, where 60 percent of the magnesium resides, or from the muscles, to support the heart.
2. Prevent Heart Disease
Magnesium can prevent cardiovascular disease — sufficient intake may reduce the chance of having a stroke. ”It could be that magnesium helps the body’s cells fend off stress. Magnesium-deficient cells also are more vulnerable to injury, and patients with heart disease may have greater need for magnesium,” says C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, the cardiac center director at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. Due to magnesium’s calming effect on all areas of our bodies, it is an antidote to those who suffer from stress, which inevitably puts pressure on the heart.
3. Regulate Blood Pressure
Magnesium naturally regulates blood pressure — a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which are good sources of potassium and magnesium, are consistently proven to lower blood pressure. Adding magnesium supplementation raises the benefit quotient even more. “With its relative safety and low cost, magnesium supplements could be considered as an option for lowering blood pressure in high-risk persons or hypertension patients,” said Yiqing Song, M.D., Sc.D., lead author and associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University.
4. Treat Diabetes
Magnesium can treat diabetes, since it aids in the process of metabolizing carbohydrates and influences the release and activity of insulin, which controls blood glucose levels. With a magnesium deficiency, you are more at risk for type-2 diabetes due to elevated blood glucose levels increasing the magnesium loss in the urine, which in turn lowers blood levels of magnesium.
5. Treating Insomnia, Migraines, And Depression
Magnesium relaxes muscles and can help migraine and tension type headaches. Even those suffering from panic attacks or severe stress occurrences can benefit from a magnesium supplement of 300 milligrams or more. A 500 mg per day dose of magnesium will help to treat all the symptoms of insomnia and depression, as well.
6. Digestive Aid
According to Pinedo, a certified drugless practitioner, health coach and herbalist at People’s Pharmacy in Austin, Texas, “Magnesium can also be used to help support digestive health for people who tend toward constipation (assuming they are also drinking plenty of water).” The propensity towards magnesium supplementation (especially magnesium citrate) when feeling bloated or blocked up in the bowels is something that wellness professionals, such as Pinedo, come to regard as essential for healthy digestion and the recommendations can vary between 300 to 500 mg each day. Sarah Kay Hoffman, another wellness practitioner from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, also claims that magnesium and constipation are directly related because the entire digestive tract is essentially one long muscle. When you supplement with magnesium you increase water in your intestines which helps to initiate peristalsis (the wavelike motion which moves fecal matter through your system and also pushes food into your stomach) .
Nine Various Types of Magnesium And What’s Right For You
Magnesium is not easily absorbed in the body unless first attached to a transporting substance. According to Dr. Sircus, Director of the International Veritas Association, “Magnesium functions as a bicarbonate cotransporter into cells. And bicarbonate acts as a transporter of magnesium into the mitochondria.” He adds, “Anything that moves us from overall acid conditions toward alkaline that recover the neutral zone is going to enhance cell metabolism via mitochondrial optimization.”
Good dietary sources of magnesium include nuts (especially almonds), wheat germ, fish, seaweed, coriander leaf, raw cacao, dried pumpkin seeds, and chlorophyll.
Chelated magnesium is frequently manufactured by supplement companies to organic and amino acids. This allows for greater bioavailability and absorption.
Topical sources of magnesium, such as applying magnesium oil directly to your skin, are very efficient ways of getting this mineral into our system. Since our skin is the largest organ and magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral we possess, the transdermal delivery can be astounding and immensely effective.
While transdermal drugs are well known in the medical community, the difference with magnesium oil topical treatments is, of course, the fact that magnesium is an essential mineral to the human body, in a natural form. Thus, use of topical magnesium oil products brings all the advantages of transdermal applications, but none of the disadvantages of introducing foreign substances into the body.
At the end of the day, and depending on my level of need (muscle soreness, insomnia) I would add several drops of magnesium oil to my bath. Soaking in magnesium-infused water was the best way of delivery to my system, as well as in conjunction with an oral supplement of magnesium.
Here is a breakdown of other various types of magnesium:
- Magnesium Malate, citrate, and gluconate are known for their bioavailability.
- Magnesium Orotate — The most effective form, capable of penetrating cell membranes as the most readily absorbable on the market today.
- Magnesium Oxide –Poor bioavailability (only 4 percent). Used more for acid reflux (aka Milk of Magnesia).
- Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate –A mineral chelate form, whether a lactate, a glycinate, an aspartate or an arginate. The latter two being the best.
- Magnesium Lactate — Primarily treats digestive issues. Not recommended for those with kidney ailments.
- Magnesium Sulfate — Commonly referred to as Epsom Salt. Best used in warm water and tub settings to relax the muscles.
- Magnesium Glycinate & Taurate — These two chelated forms are less concentrated and have a variety of uses (as I mentioned with the glycinate and leg cramping). Best taken with a calcium supplement for extra bioavailability.
- Magnesium Ascorbate — A form of magnesium and ascorbic acid.
- Magnesium L-Threonate — Known for its high absorption and ability to deliver magnesium to the brain. Nicole Pinedo, a certified herbalist and wellness practitioner in Austin, swears by magnesium threonate,. “Magnesium threonate is the form [of magnesium that most effectively] crosses the blood/brain barrier and can help with neurological and nerve health while glycinate is the form that works best with muscles (including the heart).”
Magnesium, Calcium, And Vitamin D
Balancing vitamins and minerals with their cofactors is the key to obtaining their benefits and reaching optimal health. Case in point: I had a tooth problem crop up ever since the crown my dentist installed fell out. It wasn’t until I quit taking my calcium and magnesium citrate supplement that I noticed how sensitive the tooth became. Sweets, cold items, any food hard to chew, it all made an impact on my tooth.
I discovered that in fact, calcium and magnesium — if taken in a healthy balance — does relieve toothaches. Now my tooth is still without a crown, but by maintaining a 1000 mg supplement of calcium citrate and magnesium, along with Vitamin D through natural sunshine, I’ve kept the pain at bay.
Dr. Carolyn Deans says:
Since magnesium is required for the conversion of vitamin D into its active form, it’s also true that taking vitamin D may not raise vitamin D blood levels in those who are magnesium deficient. Magnesium is ‘used up’ when Vitamin D is converted into its active form in the blood and magnesium is ‘required’ to convert Vitamin D into its active form in the blood.”
Unlike drugs, nutrients are “synergistic” and interconnected with each other, and especially in the case of magnesium and Vitamin D, it’s extremely important that you take them together.
Magnesium also helps with calcium absorption. Liz Weinandy, MPH, RD, LD, an outpatient dietitian at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, agrees that “getting adequate magnesium from diet alone can be challenging for some people who don’t eat enough vegetables, legumes, and nuts.” In addition, she says magnesium “doesn’t get enough attention for the role it plays not only in bone health, but in overall health.”
Magnesium is dubbed as “the new vitamin D,” since a magnesium deficiency can lead to critical malfunction of our cellular structure. When we have enough of it in the body, it boosts the bioavailability of vitamin B-6 and absorption of cholesterol, as an added bonus to the body.
Dr. Weinandy believes:
For too many years, we’ve just been throwing calcium at people. Now, we’re on top of the vitamin D piece, but I think magnesium is still that one missing piece. I think even getting the recommended daily amount, for most people, would be a fabulous start because hardly anybody is getting that amount.
Magnesium benefits so many aspects of our health it’s worth integrating into your daily routine.
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Magnesium Benefits: Final Thoughts
Magnesium benefits the entire body. Consult with a holistic or wellness practitioner if you still have questions about magnesium and its necessity in your life. Be cognizant that the symptoms of a deficiency far outweigh the ramifications of allowing these to go unnoticed. Due to the magnesium benefits we could enjoy in our everyday lives, it’s important to be informed, ask questions, recognize when something isn’t right in the body, and to take the steps to fix it with supplementation or diet. Our wellness depends on it.