Are You Getting Enough Magnesium?
By Dr. Kevin Passero
Magnesium is a vitally important mineral that is used for over 300 reactions in the body. Nearly every cell in your body needs magnesium to function properly.
From regulating muscle contractions to helping DNA and RNA synthesis, magnesium is considered an essential mineral.*
Due to its importance, when you’re low on magnesium, there can be a number of health consequences such as fatigue, muscle cramps, weak bones, migraines and brain function issues.
So it’s important to understand how magnesium works and how to make sure you’re getting enough of it.
5 Signs You are Low on Magnesium
One issue with magnesium is that it is hard to determine your magnesium levels through a blood test. This is because less than 1% of your magnesium is stored in your blood.*
So as medical professionals, we are often forced to rely on recognizing the common symptoms of magnesium deficiency while working with patients to rule out other causes of these symptoms.
Here are five of the most common symptoms of low magnesium:
- Craving chocolate – dark chocolate is high in magnesium and some people report craving chocolate when they are low on magnesium*
- Muscle cramps – low magnesium has been associated with muscle cramps and spasms*
- Fatigue – one of the first signs you may be low on magnesium is fatigue and low energy*
- High blood pressure – there is an inverse relationship between magnesium and blood pressure; if you have low magnesium, you are at greater risk for elevated blood pressure*
- Low Mood – low magnesium can contribute to feeling down or anxious*
Why is Magnesium Deficiency so Common?
Another reason magnesium deficiency is so common is that magnesium is difficult to absorb, especially as we get older.* In addition, many processed foods lose their magnesium potency and even the soil used to grow fruits and vegetables doesn’t contain the same density of magnesium as it did years ago.*
Phosphate-based fertilizer that is used in many large-production farms cause a reduction in magnesium in the soil and subsequently in the vegetables and fruits they grow.
Top 5 Magnesium-Rich Foods
When thinking about the foods packed with magnesium – it’s best to think small. Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and almonds have high magnesium content per ounce.*
Cashews and peanuts are also rich in magnesium. Green leafy vegetables like spinach as well as whole grains including oatmeal contain 9%-15% of the FDAs recommended daily value of magnesium.* If you love chocolate – choose dark chocolate as it is rich in magnesium too.*
7 Important Benefits of Magnesium
Since magnesium is used by nearly every cell in your body, the benefits of healthy magnesium levels are wide ranging. Here are 7 of the most important reasons to make sure you are getting enough magnesium:
1) Bone Health
Magnesium deficiency has been shown to increase a person’s risk for age-related bone problems.* Osteoblasts and osteoclasts are the cells responsible for building and repairing bones and they both require plenty of magnesium to function properly.*
2) Restful Sleep
As a naturally calming mineral, healthy magnesium levels can support restful sleep. Various studies have shown the benefit of supplemental magnesium on increasing sleep duration and sleep efficiency.*
3) Heart Health
Low magnesium can contribute to coronary artery problems and other cardiovascular issues.
Thankfully, supplementing with magnesium can support heart function. One study found magnesium supplementation to have beneficial effects on the three common lipid tests performed to evaluate cholesterol health – LDL, HDL and triglycerides.*
This study also showed the benefits of magnesium on systolic blood pressure readings and fasting glucose levels.*
4) Muscle Mass and Soreness
Magnesium plays a big role in skeletal muscle health. Supplementing with magnesium can help reduce age-related skeletal muscle mass loss. Magnesium supplementation can also help reduce muscle soreness and reduce recovery time after exertion, which can be especially helpful for those who are active or exercise regularly.**
5) Neutralizing Inflammation
Magnesium is also used to help reduce muscle aches and pains due to the effect magnesium can have on reducing inflammation.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a blood test often done to evaluate the level of circulating inflammation in the body – the higher the CRP value, the more inflammation. Researchers evaluated 11 studies and found that magnesium helped reduce CRP levels.*
Magnesium may also help regulate oxidative stress which can help bring balance between oxidants and antioxidants. This balance helps to reduce the risk of free radical damage which can cause inflammation (and accelerate aging).*
6) Mood and Nervous System Function
One of the main functions of magnesium is to support neurological activity. Low magnesium levels are often seen in people with serious neurological issues.*
Migraines are an extremely common neurological disorder and one that is still difficult to treat due to the various causes and mechanisms behind these painful events.
One of the ways migraines can start are when the nervous system enters an excitable state, and this can be due to the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. Magnesium can block receptors related to glutamate activity to help mitigate the onset of migraines.*
Anxiety has also been associated with low magnesium levels.* And unfortunately, high levels of stress can actually further deplete magnesium levels, causing a vicious cycle of worsening stress and anxiety.*
7) Energy and Stamina
Your body needs magnesium to produce energy and support DNA and RNA synthesis. Magnesium helps transport both calcium and potassium, which in turn supports nerve impulse conduction and muscle contraction.* The energy-carrying molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) binds to magnesium to complete this function. In fact, most of the ATP inside our cells are actually magnesium-ATP complexes.*
Supplementing with the Right Kind of Magnesium is Crucial
Magnesium oxide is one of the most common supplemental forms of magnesium. It’s been around for a long time and it’s cheap – but the problem with the oxide formulation is that your body can only use a small amount of the supplement due to poor absorption, making its overall bio-availability the lowest of any form of magnesium.* Magnesium oxide can also produce an often-unwanted laxative effect. This may be great for people looking for a natural way to support regular bowel motility, but it is not a very good way to boost cellular levels of magnesium.
Magnesium citrate has a higher bioavailability than magnesium oxide but also comes with the often-unwanted laxative effect.* It can be used to relieve constipation but can lead to diarrhea if taken regularly – especially by someone who is not struggling with constipation.
One of the most bioavailable and absorbable forms of magnesium is magnesium glycinate.* Not only is your body better able to use the magnesium in this form, it’s also the type least likely to cause side effects like diarrhea.*
Durable MAGNESIUM™ features magnesium glycinate, the highly absorbable form I recommend to my patients for long term use to maintain optimal magnesium levels. This daily magnesium supplement is ideal for our high-stress world.
Unlike other common forms, magnesium glycinate is gentle on the digestive system and readily absorbed into the bloodstream for maximum cellular benefits. It is a great form of magnesium to use at night to support restful and rejuvenating sleep or taken during the day to relieve stress. Most people tolerate a highly absorbable form of magnesium, like magnesium glycine, in doses up to 600 mg per day.