Magnesium – Why It's Good For You
Magnesium is needed for many every day tasks. It's involved in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. Muscles need this mineral to contract, and nerves need it to send and receive messages. It keeps your heart beating steadily and your immune system strong.
Most people can get enough magnesium by eating foods such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fish. Even with an adequate diet, some people are at increased risk of magnesium deficiency.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is often referred to as a “natural muscle relaxer” and is important for many bodily functions, such as regulating blood sugar, blood pressure, cellular activity, nerve and muscle function. Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic processes in the body, including functions in every major organ and especially the heart and brain. It also helps your body absorb calcium and vitamin D more efficiently. When you develop a magnesium deficiency, even if it is not that severe, you can start feeling nearly any symptom imaginable.
Your body depends on magnesium for a lot of processes such as:
Maintaining healthy DNA
Controlling blood glucose
Helping your muscles work more efficiently (and not cramp up)
Maintaining blood pressure
Managing nerve cells
What role does Magnesium play in our bodies?
The human body is a complicated organism that relies on a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to run correctly. Unfortunately, the modern diet is lacking many of these essential nutrients. Restless legs, muscles cramps, trouble sleeping, digestive issues. These are just a few of the complaints that I hear commonly. If I have a patient mention that they or their child are experiencing any of these symptoms, I will most certainly ask if they are taking a magnesium supplement, as magnesium deficiency is a common cause of poor digestive health, muscle cramping and irritability (especially in pregnancy), and sleep disturbances (especially in kids).
How common is magnesium deficiency? Well, the food and drug administration estimates that 70% of Americans do not achieve the recommended daily values for magnesium of 420mg.
What symptoms may suggest I have Magnesium deficiency?
Regular muscle cramps and spasms
Recent diagnosis of heart disease
Trouble going to sleep or staying asleep
Slight tremors in the hands and feet
Difficulty remembering things
Consistently high blood pressure
Feelings of excessive anxiety or depression
Diagnoses of type 2 diabetes
Other mineral deficiencies
Feeling weak during everyday physical activity
Inability to concentrate
Are there ways to supplement Magnesium?
To avoid these symptoms, you need to make sure that your body receives enough magnesium through your diet or with supplementation. Magnesium supplements are typically taken orally, in a capsule, tablet, or even a chewable tablet. I am personally a fan of chewable magnesium, which typically provides the quickest absorption and therefore fastest effects of the supplement.
Magnesium can also be applied topically directly on the skin within a cream or oil. This is especially wonderful during pregnancy if you are struggling with restless or cramping legs. If you are unable to reach your legs, put a few drops into a warm bath or have a partner apply it for you! Magnesium can be found in many different plant-based foods because it is a major ingredient in the chlorophyll that assists plants in photosynthesis. Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and collard greens all contain high magnesium levels, and magnesium also shows up in whole grains, nuts, and beans. Other food sources include almonds, spinach, yogurt, and dark chocolate.
Which Magnesium supplement is right for me?
If you find yourself ready to pick up a magnesium supplement, it’s not just a matter of choosing the best brand. There are different types of magnesium that do different things in your body.
When choosing a supplement, you must look at bioavailability. How much is your body actually absorbing? Choosing supplements with high bioavailability means your body will be able to absorb and utilize them most effectively.
Magnesium Threonate readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, which means it absorbs quickly and acts fast.
Magnesium Sulfate might be the easiest form of magnesium to find. You can pick up a bag of epsom salt, which is pure magnesium sulfate, in almost every grocery store or pharmacy.
Magnesium Malate may help if you're looking to boost energy throughout the day. The elemental magnesium is bound to malic acid, which helps your cells produce energy.
Magnesium Glycinate is a highly absorbable form of magnesium in a capsule and will raise your overall magnesium levels quickly.
Magnesium Oxide can help keep things moving while providing the mineral your body needs anyway. On the flipside, you’re making enough (or too many) bathroom trips, it’s probably a good idea to pick a different form of magnesium.
Magnesium Citrate has a calming effect, which makes it a great supplement to take at night. This is also the form to reach for if you want to address muscle cramps and twitches.
Here at ANH Wellness we carry magnesium in several easily absorbable and appliable forms, such as our oral Magnesium Glycinate from Klaire Labs, topical magnesium oil from Mother Mother, and chewable tablets for kids from Zahler. Come and check them out next time your in the office!
Ask your provider about starting a magnesium supplement today! It is uncommon for magnesium to have drug interactions or side effects when taken within the recommended levels, but always consult with a professional just in case.
By: Dr. Megan Stavalone
Chiropractor at ANH Wellness