Why You Probably Need More Magnesium Than You’re Getting
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By: Sarah Grace Powers – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
About a year ago, while complaining to a friend about how my muscles get so sore nowadays, she recommended I start taking magnesium. It wasn’t the first time it had come up, so I picked up a bottle from decently reputable company.
I knew that I was getting SOME magnesium already because I eat well and I take a high-quality multivitamin that includes it, but once I started learning more about how much we women need this vital mineral, I began upping my dosage significantly.
You might have heard the argument that we should be getting nutrients and minerals like magnesium through foods rather than supplements. And although I’m a huge proponent of eating wholesome and natural foods high in vitamins and minerals, I don’t believe that we get enough through our food.
First of all, it’s a sad truth that even freshly grown veggies don’t carry the magnesium and other nutrients in the quantities they once did, due to farming practices which have deleted the soil of minerals. And, secondly, living in today’s world with all of its external and internal stressors (hello pollution, hormone disruptors, and a culture of overwork!), our nutrients become depleted far more rapidly than in previous times.
So, I take a little cocktail of supplements most mornings, repeating a few of them throughout the day. Magnesium is definitely included in that handful of pills.
I used to only be able to tolerate about 200milligrams of magnesium a day because any more than that caused way too much of a laxative effect for me. But when I began to research magnesium more in depth I discovered that there are actually several different types of magnesium and only some of them affect the bowels.
I do still like taking a 200 mg capsule magnesium citrate each day, as it does keep the traffic moving quite nicely. However, I now take additional magnesium glycinate. More on the different types of magnesium later.
WHY WE NEED MAGNESIUM
At the most basic level, this crucial mineral helps your body produce energy. Who doesn’t want more of that? It regulates more than 325 enzymes and many of these produce, store and transport energy throughout the body.
You also need magnesium for the most efficient cell growth and regeneration. It is required to synthesize proteins in both DNA and RNA. Additionally, it promotes normal blood pressure, good vascular toning and blood flow, as well as helping all your nerves and muscles function better.
You’ve probably heard that magnesium is helpful for muscle cramping, and this is definitely the case! But that’s not the half of it. It also literally helps to build muscle and bone, regulates your body temperature, and prevents your muscles from getting so sore after exercise.
Of course, the other well-known use of magnesium is to promote deeper and more restful sleep. Who doesn’t want more of that? The benefits of improved sleep are obvious, but there are several more ‘hidden’ benefits as well, including improved hormone production and functioning.
This wonderful mineral also helps to optimize the action of your hormones so you can feel and look your best. Here’s a short list of some of its more vital actions.
- Anti-Aging: helps with the manufacture of DHEA and human growth hormone, which are produced while we sleep at night. Since magnesium improves your sleep quality, you’ll naturally produce more of these youth-enhancing hormones.
- Reduces adrenalin and cortisol— sufficient magnesium in your system will help you to feel less anxious and stay calmer during stressful situations since it can help to reduce the amount of stress hormones your body produces.
- Helps Insulin Sensitivity—It can naturally lower and/or stabilize your blood sugar—which, in turn, can reduce cravings for unhealthy foods and help with weight loss and healthy weight maintenance.
- Thyroid—It helps to convert the less active T4 thyroid hormone to the more active T3.
- Estrogen balance—it balances the levels of the different types of estrogen in your body, reducing your chances of estrogen dominance, which can cause a whole host of health problems for women.
- Sex Hormones: Magnesium is an important component is some vital biological processes that allow your body to produce estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
- Serotonin—Magnesium helps to convert the amino acid tryptophan to serotonin, which of course is so important to our moods. Many people who deal with depression and anxiety get amazing improvements by supplementing with magnesium.
Warning Signals That You Are Deficient
If you suffer from any of the following, there’s a good chance you need some more magnesium. (I feel like I was a poster child for almost all of these!)
- Muscle spasms. Lots of people notice this sort of cramping in their feet or calves, but these can be anywhere, even in your chest (which could literally mean your heart muscle is spasming!)
- Headaches and migraines. (Ok, I don’t get these too often).
- Feeling constantly fatigued or weak
- Anxiety and edginess
- Loss of appetite. (Um, no…. )
- Quick exhaustion during exercise. This was one of my biggest issues. I think the magnesium is helping. It turns out that research has shown that women with low magnesium levels in their muscles are likely to use more energy during moderate activity and therefore get tired a lot faster!
- Insomnia or restless sleep. Many people find relief by taking some magnesium before bed. If that’s not enough to make you want to get a hold of some magnesium, there’s more!
To make things worse, longer-term magnesium deficiency is linked to a whole slew of more serious conditions such as fibromyalgia, blood clots, seizures, stroke, heart disease, and more.
How Should I Take Magnesium?
Despite the soil depletion issues mentioned above, it’s still a good idea to eat magnesium-rich foods to keep a good base level going. Do what you can to eat more of these foods.
- Seaweed, such as kelp, kombu and dulce. One good way to do this is to lightly toast the seawood (such as dulce) and mix it with toasted nuts (also high in magnesium!) for a yummy snack. Another is to put a strip of seafood (kombu is good for this one) into soup or broth when you make it. The magnesium in the seaweed will leach into the broth.
- Nuts, try almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews and Brazil nuts
- Cruciferous vegetables: Including broccoli and cabbage.
- Fish, in moderation of course because… mercury.
- Chocolate, if you can tolerate it, why not?! Super high in magnesium
- Swiss chard
- Brown rice, millet, and buckwheat
You can also absorb quite a bit of magnesium by taking an Epsom salt bath! Get the extra benefit of a lovely self-care treatment. Epsom salts are basically made of magnesium sulfate—which most people can tolerate quite well.
Magnesium absorbs into the body quite well when applied topically this way through a bath, or as a gel or lotion. There are several different companies that make topical magnesium. Make sure you are buying from one that uses the form of magnesium called magnesium chloride. This one is very good:
All Magnesium Supplements are Not Created Equal
We all know that some supplement companies do things on the cheap—and some of that savings gets passed on to us. Although I like to save a little money when I can, I have realized that you often get what you pay for.
Fortunately, with magnesium it is pretty easy to tell if you are getting what you need once you understand the difference between the forms of magnesium. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Magnesium Glycinate: This one is the most bioavailable, and usually the most expensive. It will replenish low levels of magnesium the most quickly, and it does NOT have a laxative effect. This is the one I use in addition to my one Mag Citrate a day.
- Magnesium Citrate: This is the one you’ll see most often in decent quality supplements. It does absorb into the body easily, but since it has a slight laxative action you can lose that more easily. It’s a great one to choose if you deal with constipation. Or, you can be like me and just take one a day to help things along.
- Magnesium Malate: You don’t see this one as often, but it is readily available. Apparently, it can give some instant energy. I have not tried it yet, but since it is supposed to be fairly well absorbed, I think I might switch to this one in the morning. Not recommended for bedtime use!
- Magnesium Oxide – This is the one you’ll find a lot in the cheapy supplements. Avoid it! It has a very low level of bioavailability, and can cause weird, adverse reactions. What’s the point in taking something that isn’t even going to help that much? You can take your magnesium as a pill, or get the powder and mix it with water or another beverage. The powdered form can be nice before bed and one of the popular brands is CALM. Just be sure to check your labels for what type of magnesium the company is using.
I decided against the CALM brand myself and went for one that is entirely magnesium glycinate. This one is reasonably priced and unflavored.
It seems to me that it’s a no-brainer to take more magnesium. Be smart and don’t overdo it. But you very well might find yourself more energized during the day and sleeping better if you add a little more into your daily diet.
More by Sarah:
Sarah Grace Powers is a certified life coach and EFT Practitioner. She is a ‘dream resuscitator’, helping clients rediscover their passions and reinvent themselves no matter what their age or circumstance. In her previous career, she owned and operated an herb shop and has practiced holistic living for over three decades. Find her at sarahgracecoach.com
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