Magnesium is revered in Chinese Medicine as the “beautiful mineral”. It is as essential to the body as water and air and has undeniable healing potential. We humans do not produce magnesium on our own. Magnesium and other minerals can only be obtained from the earth or supplements. You have about two ounces of magnesium in your body – mostly stored in muscle and bone tissue.
This mineral is essential for more than three hundred reactions, including nerve and cardiac function, muscle relaxation and contraction, protein formation and manufacture of energy and cellular reproduction. In addition, strong bones and teeth, radiant skin, balanced hormones, and relaxed body and mind are all made possible by sufficient magnesium in our cells. If that isn’t enough, several studies have shown magnesium to be effective in buffering lactic acid, reducing heart rate and carbon dioxide production during exercise and improving cardiovascular efficiency. Supplementing this vital mineral can elevate testosterone levels and muscle strength by up to 30 percent. Finally, Magnesium has been shown to improve sleep quality.
How much Magnesium do you need?
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium for adults is 310–420 mg depending on age and gender. Many studies have shown positive effects for higher doses up to 2,500 mg, however, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider before taking a supplement, especially high doses.
How do you get enough Magnesium in your diet?
- Legumes – lentils, beans, chickpeas, peas and soybeans
- Nuts – almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts
- Seeds – flax, pumpkin, chia seeds
- Whole grains – wheat, oats, barley, quinoa, and buckwheat
- Fatty fish – salmon, halibut, mackerel
- Leafy greens – kale, spinach, collard, turnip and mustard greens
- Dark chocolate
Given current food preferences, however, it’s easy to see how difficult it is to achieve 100% of RDAs for magnesium.
There three basic reasons we can’t get enough magnesium in the diet:
- Reduced levels due to processing – refined grains remove 80-97 percent of Magnesium and refined cane sugar removes all of the magnesium during processing. Unfortunately, the typical American diet consists of fast food, pizza, sweets, and fried foods that contain these refined sugars and grains.
- Reduced levels due to soil conditions – the quality of our crops is decreasing. In 2004, the Journal of the American College of Nutrition released a study which compared nutrient content of crops at that time with 1950 levels. Declines were found as high as 40%. Pesticides and fertilizers are linked to the depletion of vitamins and minerals in the soil. For additional information on the harmful effects of pesticides, such as glyphosate, read my blog post, Round Up Kills People, Not The Lawn.
- Changes in eating habits – The average American diet supplies less than two thirds of the magnesium required by the body. Not only are we not providing our bodies with the necessary amount of this mineral, but we are also eating and drinking products that depletes what little we do have stored. For every molecule of sugar we eat our bodies need 54 molecules of magnesium to be able to process that sugar. Therefore consuming sugar-laden soda depletes our body of this necessary nutrient. There are approximately 39 grams of sugar in one 12 ounce can of sweetened cola. There’s also phosphorous acid in sodas that actually blocks the absorption of minerals in our bodies. Phosphorous acid is also found in diet sodas.
Magnesium deficiency can increase or cause chronic illnesses such as; diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, depression, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, migraines, heavy metal toxicity, GI issues, PMS, sleep issues, and even asthma.
Ideally the best way to improve your magnesium level is to consume it through eating organically bound magnesium found in whole foods such as; seeds, nuts, grains, legumes and vegetables. However, you may have to take a supplement to effectively reach your daily requirements. There are a number of different types and forms of Magnesium available. The most commonly used is in the oral supplement form and topical form. Below is a list of seven types that you may consider including in your daily life. Each person is different, so you may find different results with each Magnesium form.
- Magnesium Sulfate – Better known as Epsom Salt. Many athletes use this form in their baths to ease sore muscles and cramps.
- Magnesium Citrate – This form of magnesium, which is magnesium bound to citric acid, is one of the better-absorbed forms of magnesium (Walker, 2003). But there is one downside: it can cause a laxative effect at high doses. Aside from oral magnesium intended to boost daily intake, the most common use of this particular form of the mineral is as stool cleaning preparation for surgery or bowel procedures such as colonoscopies.
- Magnesium Lactate – This common form is used for general treatment to correct or prevent magnesium deficiency. You’ll find magnesium lactate in health or supplement stores or online as oral magnesium that can be used as part of your supplement plan. This is also a form of magnesium that’s used as a food additive in fortified or enriched foods.
- Magnesium Chloride – You’ll frequently see this type of magnesium sold as a dietary supplement to boost your daily intake and help with bone health. The form itself is a magnesium salt bound with chlorine, which makes for a supplement that’s pretty easy for your body to absorb. You can also find this in flakes or crystal form. After a long run or workout, you can soak your feet or body in a Magnesium Chloride bath for fifteen minutes to relieve soreness. It is also available in a topical lotion or spray.
- Magnesium Malate – This form of the trace element combines magnesium with malic acid, a substance found naturally in fruits. Magnesium Malate is the most bioavailable form of the mineral, which means these supplements may be able to offer the most health benefits (Uysal, 2019). The supplement I use, made by Jigsaw Heath, is Mag SRT. This supplement contains 500mg of Magnesium Malate.
- Magnesium Taurate – The combination of magnesium and the amino acid taurine may be beneficial for those seeking the heart health-boosting benefits. This form has also been shown to slow or prevent onset cataracts.
- Magnesium Oxide – You might know this form best as milk of magnesia. They’re well known for their ability to promote digestion and ease heartburn. It may also help with anxiety. Across 18 studies, magnesium oxide was the second most commonly used form of this mineral.
Getting enough magnesium is essential for maintaining good health. Without enough of this important mineral, your body can’t function optimally. Personally, focusing on eating clean, organic, Magnesium-rich foods and taking a daily supplement are non-negotiables for me.
Agarwal, R., Iezhitsa, I. N., Agarwal, P., & Spasov, A. A. (2013). Mechanisms of cataractogenesis in the presence of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium Research, 26(1), 2–8. doi: 10.1684/mrh.2013.0336, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23708888
Baaij, J. H. F. D., Hoenderop, J. G. J., & Bindels, R. J. M. (2015). Magnesium in Man: Implications for Health and Disease. Physiological Reviews, 95(1), 1–46. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00012.2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25540137
Bohn T. Dietary Factors Influencing Magnesium Absorption in Humans. Current Nutrition & Food Science. 2008;4:53-72.
Boundless by Ben Greenfield
Mag SRT, Jigsaw Health
I could talk all day about the benefits of Magnesium. Do you have any questions so I can continue this conversation?? Let me know in comments below.