Magnesium is one of the top supplements I recommend. I recommend it due to the signs and symptoms my patients are facing but it is also estimated that up to 80% of adults are deficient in this mineral. This is quite alarming considering the health benefits of magnesium and that magnesium plays a role in over 300 biochemical processes within the body. So unless your diet is high in magnesium-rich foods, or you are taking a magnesium supplement, you very well may be amongst the 80% of deficient adults.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
A deficiency in magnesium is considered hard to detect due to the fact that magnesium is inside the cells or bone and not free floating in the blood. Here are some signs and symptoms of a magnesium deficiency:
- Muscle weakness, spams, and cramps
- Chronic Pain
- Tooth decay
- Hypertension and cardiovascular disorders
- Chronic headaches and migraines
- Poor cognitive function
- Mood and behavioral disorders
- Poor gut health
- Restless leg syndrome
The reason for such mass magnesium depletion is hard to identify but there are several factors that play into it. For one, the soil is more depleted in high quality minerals than ever before. This in turn depletes the magnesium levels in the food that you are eating. If you are in the U.S., check out the magnesium soil map. Another major participant in magnesium depletion is the high level of people facing gastrointestinal issues resulting in malabsorption. Lastly, the high-paced, stressed-out lifestyle that most live certainly does not support healthy magnesium levels.
With my patients, we first look for deficiencies in their blood work or identify a need through their symptoms. After we start supplementing with magnesium, I hear back positive reports of relief. Before we dive into the health benefits of magnesium, lets first look at the different types.
Different Types of Magnesium
Like many nutrition related topics, magnesium turns into a confusing topic for many do to its numerous forms. No sooner do I tell someone to start taking magnesium, they ask which kind and/or start telling me a different form is better. The forms that dissolve well in water are typically the forms that absorb well in the gut. Magnesium citrate, chelate, and chloride are the most bioavailable forms.
For your knowledge, here is a breakdown of the different forms of magnesium:
Magnesium Citrate: Simply magnesium and citric acid. It is great for improving digestion and preventing constipation due to its laxative effect.
Magnesium Chloride Oil: This is a magnesium that is designed to be applied externally to the skin. I use this as an athlete to relieve muscle cramps, soreness, and skin irritation and to improve performance. An example would be to use on sore feet after running. This is a great form of magnesium used for those who have malabsorption and intestinal issues.
Magnesium Chelate: This form is a naturally occurring and highly absorbable form of magnesium found in foods. This is considered a highly effective form for restoring magnesium depletion, as it is attaches to amino acids.
Magnesium Threonate: There is not very much research available on this form of magnesium. What we do know is that it can penetrate the mitochondrial membrane and may offer incredible support for magnesium deficiencies as we continue to discover more about it.
Magnesium Glycinate: A highly absorbable form that is less likely to cause a laxative effect.
So the truth is that you will find yourself taking different forms depending on the application. Magnesium chelate and citrate are the forms I use the most.
The Health Benefits of Magnesium
Magnesium is a critical mineral for optimal cell, nervous system and bodily health. Here is a list of the many ways magnesium can massively improve your health.
1. ) Calming and Natural Anxiety Relief – Anxiety is a problem in mass proportion. Magnesium is important in the brain to convert glutamate into GABA. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that produces calming hormones. When there is too little magnesium to convert glutamate into GABA, then chronic stress can occur. When glutamate is converted into GABA, relaxation and a sense of calm is experienced.
The Journal of Neuropharmacology found that magnesium deficient mice had increased levels of anxiety. The magnesium deficiency caused the hormone cortisol to be at increase levels in the brains of the mice, driving the stress response.
2.) Increases Mental and Physical Performance – Magnesium promotes performance at both a cognitive and physical level. The body has a power plant sort to speak known as the mitochondria. Magnesium activates the ATP (fuel) providing your brain and body with the energy it needs to function daily. As a result, your memory is improved through magnesium along with mental performance through strengthened synapses.
3.) Treats Insomnia and Promotes Healthy Sleep – As mentioned above, magnesium is very calming which is important for winding down to go to sleep at night. A study that was published in 2012 in the Journal of Research in Medical Science took two groups of patients, one of whom was given magnesium supplements and one was given a placebo over a 48-week period. The group who took the magnesium supplement experienced increased sleep time, lower cortisol, higher melatonin concentrations and had an easier time falling asleep.
4.) Supports Healthy Digestion and Relieves Constipation – Magnesium offers the digestive tract and intestinal wall muscular relaxation. Magnesium also helps to loosen the stool, move it through the intestines, and balance stomach acid. It is also very important that magnesium support for the gastrointestinal tract is met with proper hydration. This creates the optimal environment to relieve constipation.
5.) Reduces Muscle Cramps, Aches and Spasms – When my patients have unrelenting muscle spasms I always turns to adequate hydration and magnesium levels. Magnesium is heavily relied upon for neuromuscular signals to properly occur. Without sufficient levels of magnesium, your muscles can go into spasm.
Due to the fact that magnesium and calcium work synergistically to create proper muscular control and function, I often recommend them taken together to get full benefit from their synergistic effect on the neuromuscular function.
6.) Boosts Immune Health – In immune cells, magnesium, calcium, and zinc play important roles as second messengers to regulate intracellular signaling pathways. Though magnesium alone is not the only factor in decreased immune function, it is a piece of the puzzle for increased immune function.
7.) Improves Cardiovascular Health – Magnesium is found in highest amounts in the left ventricle of the heart. Magnesium is linked to maintaining a steady heartbeat and normal blood pressure. A review of 22 studies published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2012, recommended that magnesium supplementation supports lowering your blood pressure.
Another report published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension in 2014 gave us the knowledge that low levels of magnesium were associated with hypertension. The one last study that I want to mention here is the PLoS One Report that revealed low levels of magnesium in the blood are linked with risks for heart disease, particularly heart attack.
8.) Migraine and Chronic Headache Prevention – If you have ever suffered from migraines like I have, than you know that it’s no joke. The good news is that magnesium can help. Due to its involvement in neurotransmitter and blood circulation, magnesium reduces vasoconstriction along with releasing hormones that reduce pain.
9.) Strengthen Bones and Joint – Magnesium helps up regulate Vitamin D levels, which is an important determining factor in bone formation. Multiple studies show that sufficient magnesium levels correlate with increase bone density in both men and woman.
Recommended Daily Allowance of Magnesium
As with any vitamin, mineral or supplement, you want to make sure your consuming the proper levels. This is a comprehensive list of the current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium depending on your age and gender according to the NIH:
- Infants–6 months: 30 mg
- 7–12 months: 75 mg
- 1–3 years: 80 mg
- 4–8 years: 130 mg
- 9–13 years: 240 mg
- 14–18 years: 410 mg for men; 360 mg for women
- 19–30 years: 400 mg for men; 310 mg for women
- Adults 31 years and older: 420 mg for men; 320 mg for women
- Pregnant women: 350-360 mg
- Women who are breastfeeding: 310-320 mg
Looking for the magnesium supplement that I use for myself and my patients? It’s called Muscle Calm. Muscle Calm formulated with Magnesium Citrate, Calcium, Passionflower, and Valerian Root, making it a powerful vitamin and herbal supplement.