Magnesium - The most powerful mineral in the body

Magnesium - The Most Powerful Mineral In The Body

Many people are now starting to understand the importance of magnesium as an essential nutrient. Magnesium is found everywhere in the body being the fourth most abundant mineral in our cells. Even though magnesium plays such a crucial role in so many bodily functions, most people are not getting enough of it, which is a huge cause for concern. About 50% of Canadians are not getting sufficient magnesium on an everyday basis. Low magnesium levels can lead to issues like, muscle cramps, high blood pressure, migraines, fatigue, mental confusion, chocolate cravings and so much more!
Just like the body uses proteins, carbohydrates and fats, the vital organs in the body need magnesium to carry out their daily functions. It plays a leading role in over 600 biochemical functions including, providing the body with energy; maintaining muscle mass; preserving bone and nerve function; regulating neurotransmitters; supporting digestion; and enhancing immune & cognitive health. Thus, if we are not getting enough magnesium everyday, how will all of these very important bodily functions be carried out?

What Are Some Signs of A Magnesium Deficiency?

  • Muscle cramps and spasms - Calcium is important for muscle contraction and magnesium is important for muscle relaxation. Low levels of magnesium can result in muscle cramping and spasms, especially at night! 
  • Hypertension - Magnesium plays an important role in heart function. A magnesium deficiency can increase sodium and potassium, increasing the chance of developing hypertension and other cardiovascular conditions. 
  • Headaches - Magnesium deficiency can lead to vasoconstriction of the arteries that supply blood to the brain, this can lead to headaches.
  • Fatigue & low mood - All of our cells in the body need magnesium for energy production. A magnesium deficiency can lead to the constant feeling of low energy and low mood.
  • Insomnia - Magnesium is needed for optimal GABA production in the body. GABA’s role is to calm the brain and reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.  Without magnesium, GABA cannot do its job and this causes anxiety and trouble sleeping.
  • Hormone Imbalances - Magnesium is essential for estrogen detoxification in the liver. During detoxification, estrogen is made water soluble so that it can be eliminated from the body. However, low levels of magnesium means that the liver may not be able to completely detoxify estrogen. This means excess estrogen can be found in the body, leading to the telltale signs of hormonal imbalances - weight gain, fluid retention, acne and mood swings.
  • Low bone density - Magnesium helps Vitamin D and Calcium get into the bones, where they should be. Low levels of magnesium can draw calcium out of the bones, lowering bone density. 

Why Is Magnesium Deficiency So Common?

Our soils are becoming more and more depleted due to modern agricultural techniques. Foods that once used to be high in magnesium are no longer high. North American lifestyle allows for easy access to processed foods, which really lowers our magnesium intake since it is mainly found in whole foods. Magnesium is stripped from food during processing – about 80% of magnesium is lost when the germ layer is removed from wheat to produce white flour and other white bread products. 
Our bodies uses magnesium like never before. With regular alcohol consumption and daily stress, magnesium is used up rather quickly!  These lost stores need to be replenished! 

How Much Magnesium Do You Need Daily?

According to the National Institute of Health and Dieticians of Canada the recommended daily intake of Magnesium differs depending on age and gender. Keep in mind these numbers are often lower and to feel your best, higher amounts of magnesium are required!
  • Ages 31-50: 320 mg
  • Ages 51+: 320 mg
  • Pregnancy: 400 mg
  • Ages 31-50: 420 mg
  • Ages 51+ 420 mg


What Are Some Magnesium Rich Foods?

A great place to start when trying to increase magnesium levels in the body is, diet. In general foods containing dietary fiber provide magnesium including, dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts and whole grains. 
Pumpkin seeds: 151 mg/oz
Brazil nuts: 107 mg/oz
Dark Chocolate: 95 mg/1 square
Almonds: 96 mg/1/4 cup
Cashews: 89 mg/1/4 cup
Spinach: 81 mg/½ cup
Black beans: 60 mg/ ½ cup 
Avocado: 60 mg/1 medium
As you can see, foods are a good source of magnesium. However, even with an adequate diet many of us are still not getting enough magnesium through food sources. This is where supplementing can come in handy.

Is There a “Best” Form Of Magnesium To Take?

Experiencing multiple of the above mentioned signs of a magnesium deficiency may just mean your body needs more magnesium! Often times dietary sources alone are not enough to raise your magnesium levels and supplementing with some extra magnesium may be necessary to feel your best! Magnesium supplements don’t just contain pure magnesium (elemental magnesium). Magnesium ions are very reactive and unstable on their own. So they must be combined with other molecules, like amino acids to be optimally absorbed in the body. 
Since there are many different types of magnesium picking the right one for your needs may be a challenging experience. Choosing the ideal form of magnesium for you will depend on your individual needs and circumstances. 

Top 8 Forms of Magnesium Supplements 

  • Magnesium Glycinate (AKA Magnesium Bisglycinate)

    • Magnesium Glycinate is one of the most absorbable forms
    • Bound to the amino acid, glycine. Glycine is a relaxing neurotransmitter 
    • Best used for mental calmness, relaxation, chronic pain and for preventing muscle cramps
    • No laxative effect, so best suited for individuals with sensitive bowels
  • Magnesium Citrate

    • Magnesium Citrate has fairly good absorption in the body
    • Bound to citric acid
    • Used for stress and energy
    • Best used for constipation as it is rapidly absorbed in the digestive tract
    • Can have a laxative effect as it is rapidly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract
  • Magnesium Malate

    • Magnesium Malate has fairly good absorption in the body
    • Bound to malic acid
    • Best used to improve energy and combat fatigue
    • Studied a lot for its use in Fibromyalgia
  • Magnesium Taurate

    • Magnesium is combined with the amino acid Taurine
    • Used to improve cardiac function, lower blood pressure, support digestion and helps to maintain healthy blood glucose levels
    • Not used to treat constipation
  • Magnesium Orotate

    • Magnesium Orotate has high absorption rates
    • Magnesium is bound to orotic acid
    • Used to improve exercise endurance, heart health and athletic performance
  • Magnesium Oxide 

    • Most common form of magnesium sold but least absorbable form
    • Mainly used to loosen stools and for constipation
    • Side effects include bloating and diarrhea to the low absorption rate
  • Magnesium Sulfate

    • Best absorbed through the skin (Ex. Epsom salt baths) or through Intravenous therapy
    • Best used for sore muscles
    • Cannot be used orally
  • Magnesium L-Threonate

    • Newest forms of magnesium
    • Used to improve cognitive function, nerve function and memory
    • Not as useful when a magnesium deficiency is suspected
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body! It is used for a variety of functions, such as energy production, optimal sleep, cardiovascular health, bone density, hormonal regulation and so much more! Low intakes over a long period of time can lead to a magnesium deficiency. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, poor sleep, headaches, PMS, mood swings and muscle cramps. This is becoming more and more common today due to our typical North Ameican diet as well as food processing techniques that are stripping these essential minerals from food.
It’s time to make a conscious effort to consume more foods that are high in magnesium and further to this, supplement with additional magnesium. Magnesium may just be the missing link to your daily wellness routine! 
The advice in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the care of a Naturopathic physician.