Although its importance is often overlooked, magnesium is the eleventh most abundant element in the human body, and it affects a number of things all the way down to our DNA. How can you use magnesium to be healthier today?
What does magnesium do in the body?
For an element that gets so little attention, magnesium does so much! Over 300 enzyme functions are enabled by magnesium.
Magnesium is hard at work regulating chemical reactions in the body, maintaining protein synthesis, producing energy, and promoting proper muscle and nerve function.
Magnesium also balances and transports calcium and potassium. It also plays a role in the brain as it is a precursor for neurotransmitters and is responsible for hormonal reactions. Blood glucose control, blood pressure regulation, and structural development of the bones may also be affected by this crucial element.
It effects so much in our bodies and is even a building block of our DNA and RNA.back to menu ↑
What is magnesium?
You can find Magnesium (Mg) on your old periodic table. It is the eighth most abundant element in the earth’s crust, the fourth most abundant element element in the whole planet, and it is flying across the universe in super nova stars.
This seemingly omnipresent element is highly reactive, and chances are you may have watched a strip of it burn up, brilliant and bright white, in grade school science class.
More Magnesium, Please
So, if magnesium is so prevalent in the universe around us, how could anyone have a deficiency in his or her diet?
One reason is that today’s industrial agricultural practices have depleted the earth of many nutrients, one of which is magnesium.
Before these practices, plants were often a rich source of magnesium. In fact, it is the magnesium in the chlorophyll of the plant which enables it to absorb energy from the sun. Herbicides block the uptake of minerals, and soil that is used to grow massive amounts year after year can become weak in important elements.
Another culprit behind magnesium deficiency is fluoride. Since magnesium is a highly reactive element, it can bond easily with other players in a system. Fluoride is a likely bond, and since people today have more and more fluoride in their bodies, the result is less and less magnesium absorption.
Poor eating (and drinking) habits are also a common cause for deficiency. Phosphates found in colored sodas are also bonding agents and could cause magnesium deficiency. Eating foods such as refined sugars which contain no nutritional value (and certainly no magnesium) can also lead to deficiencies.
Additionally, drinking several alcoholic beverages a week can cause magnesium to be flushed out of the system.
High stress levels can create an imbalance in adrenocortical hormones causing magnesium deficiency as well. Caffeine consumption, birth control pills, and even estrogen replacement therapy could also adversely effect the balance of magnesium in the body.back to menu ↑
If you’re still not convinced of the importance of taking stock of your magnesium levels, just look at the statistics. According to mercola.com, 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. People who seem to be most at-risk are African Americans and the elderly.
The use of certain medications, low dietary intake of the nutrient (more on this mentioned above), certain health conditions (such as gastrointestinal disease), and alcoholism can all contribute to a deficiency in magnesium.
Early signs of magnesium deficiency are: loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, facial tics, poor sleep, fatigue, weakness, and numbness. More advanced stages of deficiency could manifest by way of tingling sensations, muscle contractions, cramps, seizures, chronic pain, or abnormal heart rhythms.
To get tested for your magnesium levels, contact your health care provider and ask for a detailed test. This will most likely be a blood sample test.back to menu ↑
Magnesium’s (Many) Benefits
Magnesium has a wide variety of benefits to the body.
See below for the many important uses and treatments magnesium could provide for you (and also make sure to check below for which types of magnesium supplements can give you your desired results).
- Magnesium has been purported to relieve chest pain, regulate the heartbeat, lower blood pressure, and alleviate high levels of “bad” cholesterol. Along these claims, magnesium would also then help to prevent heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks.
- Magnesium works as both an antacid and a laxative. In fact, high dosages of magnesium are usually ingested in patients before surgical or diagnostic procedures in order to flush their systems.
- Magnesium therapy is a common treatment for those with pre-eclampsia or eclampsia. By preventing convulsions, magnesium sulfate is often used as early and effective treatment.
- Fibromyalgia, migraines, and premenstrual syndrome can also be alleviated by magnesium.
- Magnesium improves calcification in the body, and therefore it is often prescribed to patients with chronic kidney disease.
- Higher magnesium levels are also encouraged for dialysis patients because it helps fight atherosclerosis.
- Magnesium is a relaxant and helps stimulant neurotransmitters such as serotonin. For these reasons, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), migraines, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), leg cramps, restless leg syndrome, and altitude sickness can be alleviated by healthy levels of magnesium.
- Topical treatments of magnesium can help to treat infected skin ulcers, skin boils, and to speed the healing of a wound.
- Disease and conditions such as Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, kidney stones, weak bones, altitude sickness, urinary incontinence, hayfever, and multiple sclerosis can be alleviated by magnesium.
- Magnesium has been purported to help in the prevention of hearing loss.
- Low levels of magnesium have also been associated with diabetes, osteoporosis, and asthma.
Magnesium Rich Foods
If you’re ready to begin reaping the benefits of magnesium, a good place to start is at the market!
The best sources for magnesium are green, leafy vegetables. The chlorophyll in these vegetables aids in the growth of the plant and will provide a rich source of magnesium for all who ingest. Spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, and cabbage are the best sources in this family.
Legumes such as peanuts, soybeans, lentils, beans, and peas as well as sesame seeds, cashews, and sunflower seeds also contain magnesium. Fruits like bananas and blackberries are also good sources, as are cocoa, coffee, and tea. Foods rich in fiber also have high levels of magnesium.back to menu ↑
Magnesium Supplements For Your System
A variety of magnesium supplements are available, not only to balance out your diet, but to target specific areas of treatment. Supplements can be taken orally and some are also available for topical use. Most can be found at your local supermarket, health food store, or ordered online. Here is a list of the most helpful and widely used varieties:
- Magnesium glycerinate is a variety which is very common and is a chelated form. It provides not only the highest levels of absorption, but also of bioavailability (which is the best rate of magnesium ingested to magnesium being absorbed). Because of these strengths, magnesium glycerinate is most commonly used for correction of magnesium deficiency.
- Magnesium oxide is non-chelated form that provides a bevy of effects related to digestion. It works as a fairly rapid laxative (and is used to empty the bowels before surgical or diagnostic procedures). It also works as an antacid, relieving heartburn, stomach aches, and acid indigestion. Because of its strong qualities as a laxative, it should not be taken too often.
- Magnesium hydroxide (or milk of mangesia) works mainly as an antacid and helps to sooth heartburn, sour stomach, and constipation.
- Magnesium chloride is an effective supplement in flushing toxins out of the system. By spurring the growth of starch-digesting enzymes and gastric acid, magnesium chloride draws certain toxins out by excretion.
- Magnesium carbonate (a main ingredient of Mylanta) is another supplement which provides antacid properties. Take for heartburn, upset stomach, or indigestion.
- Magnesium citrate is another combination containing magnesium and citric acid. This supplement is used for cleansing the system and works as a laxative.
- Magnesium lactate is a magnesium salt of lactic acid. It helps support functions of the nervous and digestive systems and facilitates muscle movement and glucose. It also helps soothe upset stomachs, build strong bones, and supports the heart muscle.
- Magnesium sulfate is used to balance levels of magnesium in your body. It has also been used to control seizures in both chidden and women (most often due to complications of pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia and eclampsia), to control blood pressure, and to treat inflammation of the kidneys.
- Magnesium taurate is a combination of magnesium and taurine which work together to help calm the body and mind. This supplement is not aimed at aiding digestive issues, as others are, but instead helps to control neurotransmitters in the brain which can prevent the death of brain cells. It can be used to relieve hyperactivity, depression, irritability, and anxiety.
- Magnesium threonate is new supplement aimed to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane. Tests have shown that when given to rats, magnesium threonate can promote cognitive ability. It has been purported that it can help the human brain, especially in regard to memory.
- Magnesium oil is a topical way to get more magnesium into your system. This can be applied to the skin for benefits such as: better sleep, calmed nerves, relieved stress, boosted energy, strengthened immune system, promoted muscle function, improved bone strength, relieved aches and pains, and detoxification.
- Magnesium powder can also be taken to reap health benefits. Some come in tablets which can be dissolved in water. These powders come available in a variety of the different types of magnesium listed above and can provide the individual and desired treatment which each type of magnesium has to offer.
Dosage, Recommendations, and Side Effects
Because levels of magnesium which are too high can overwork the kidneys, intake of magnesium should be monitored closely in people with poor renal function, kidney disorders, or heart disorders.
For most adults, 350 mg per day of magnesium is safe and recommended. Magnesium is also likely safe for the majority of pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding (depending on the age of the woman).
Since so many of the supplements are specific for detoxification, antacids, and laxatives, the most common side effects of magnesium have to do with problems of digestion.
Upset stomach or diarrhea can occur, as well as nausea, vomiting. Because magnesium is an active bonder, it can sometimes cause deficiencies of other other minerals or severely lowered blood pressure.
In rare and serious cases when too much magnesium has been ingested, confusion, slowed heart rate, respiratory paralysis, coma, cardiac arrhythmia, or cardiac arrest could occur.
People with heart block, kidney problems, or people who are taking antibiotics, bisphosphonates, medications for high blood pressure, water pills, or muscle relaxants should most likely avoid magnesium supplements, and should consult a doctor before ingestion.