Magnesium: The Missing Link
Magnesium is an essential mineral for your body to function properly and 90% people have a deficiency, leading to a myriad of health problems. It works closely with calcium, potassium, and vitamin D for optimal bone and muscle health. As human beings, we are constantly regenerating and rebuilding so it is important that we provide our bodies with the right raw materials to do so. Researchers are finding more and more metabolic processes that magnesium is involved with and at this time there are currently over 1,000 functions it assists with within the human body. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked when it comes to supplementation, as most of us only think of calcium when it comes to building strong bones and now in recent years, vitamin D. Magnesium is the missing link. If our body is receiving other vitamins and minerals without magnesium then this can lead to toxicity due to lack of proper absorption, in addition to the weak bones and other problems that we were trying to prevent in the first place.
When our muscles contract, they release double-charged calcium. Often times, our muscles are chronically contracted without us knowing due to repetitive motions (driving, working at a desk, playing sports, etc.) or lack thereof (sitting on a couch, not exercising, having bad posture, etc.), which over an extended period of time can lead to calcification of muscles, making them hardened like bone. Massage is recommended to help reduce the chances of calcification, but can only help so much when a magnesium deficiency is present. You see, magnesium is by definition a muscle relaxer, therefore it helps reduce the presence of calcium in muscle produced by contractions or over-supplementation.
To give you a better idea of what the recommended daily allowance is for your gender and age group, I’ve included some averages in the chart below:
RDA (mg) of Magnesium
Whole foods that contain magnesium include dark chocolate, avocado, tofu, green leafy vegetables, spinach, kale, figs, bananas, raspberries, nuts, seeds, black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, peas, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, salmon, mackerel, tuna, grains, soy, quinoa, and milk.
I always recommend that my clients get their blood tested to see the levels of vitamins and minerals in their blood to gain a better understanding of their own body and what they need. I also remind them that blood tests are just a small snapshot of an aspect of the body and are not necessarily an accurate depiction of the overall big picture.
Here are some signs that may indicate a magnesium deficiency:
“Hungry bone syndrome”
High blood pressure
As you can see, there are so many symptoms that come with magnesium deficiency, but also keep in mind that these can be signs of other deficiencies / health problems as well, not necessarily just magnesium or even magnesium at all. That is why it is important to get your blood tested. Keep in mind, just like how there can be deficiencies of everything, there can also be toxicities as well, meaning that you may also be receiving too much! Now this is very rare with magnesium, and toxicity usually only occurs through over-supplementation. Here are the symptoms of magnesium toxicity:
Low blood calcium level (hypocalcemia)
Low blood potassium
It’s really interesting how toxicity can have some of the same symptoms as a deficiency! You have to find the right balance for your body. When starting a magnesium supplement, I usually recommend that clients start with a smaller dose and work their way up gradually. Here are some different types of magnesium that you may consider as far as supplementation goes:
Magnesium Glycinate - highly bioavailable chelated form
Magnesium Carbonate - great for heartburn and upset stomach, may have a laxative effect
Magnesium Sulfate - for topical use, relieves sore muscles, sold as epsom salt
Magnesium Chloride - is more bioavailable than magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate, also helps relieve sore muscles when applied topically
Magnesium Lactate - helps regulate digestion. As bioavailable as magnesium chloride.
Magnesium Orotate - the most effective source of magnesium when it comes to addressing deficiencies and rebuilding magnesium storage
Magnesium Citrate - may induce bowel movements and aid in prevention of kidney stones
Magnesium Oxide - relieves symptoms of acid reflux and works as a laxative
Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate - bound to an amino acid like glycine, aspartate, or arginine, etc. The forms containing aspartate or arginine are recommended.
I really like this brand called MegaFood because of the quality of their products. They make a large variety of different supplements for all kinds of deficiencies. They have a magnesium supplement that is derived from whole foods which makes it very bioavailable - MegaFood Magnesium - as well as a supplement that contains magnesium, potassium, and calcium for optimal bone health MegaFood Calcium, Magnesium & Potassium. But just to reiterate what I said before, it is important to get your blood tested to see what supplement is right for you because too much of one thing - like calcium for example - can really take a negative toll on your body.
Another great way to add minerals into your daily life is by sprinkling celtic sea salt on your food or beverages. I add a pinch to my water to ensure that I am getting some good electrolytes throughout the day. I personally like this brand called Selina Naturally. Because our water is so processed it is essentially “dead,” deprived of all of the naturally occurring nutrients. This is why it is so important that we add back in the nutrients of what we would normally be consuming when we hydrate to help our bodies function properly.
So that concludes my magnesium spiel, I hope that for at least some of you who read this it sparked an aha moment :) In my holistic health training many of my mentors stressed the importance of magnesium over and over and I can say now that I’ve been receiving my proper supplementation I am experiencing a lot less fatigue, muscle weakness, and soreness.