Magnesium is a Huge Subject. There are books written on it. In this blog, I offer you a thumbnail sketch about this miraculous mineral. I hope that this will motivate you to look at your own health as it relates to magnesium, determine if you are deficient and take steps to continually replenish your supply.
Before we dive into magnesium, here’s a bit of background on minerals.
Minerals are magic!! They are the spark plugs of life and play many important health-related roles within the human body.
Minerals comprise about 4% of our body.
Humans do not produce minerals; therefore, we must obtain them through our food.
Minerals are what remain as ash when plant or animal tissues deteriorate.
They come from the earth and will eventually return to the earth.
Out of the 103 known minerals, at least 18 are necessary for good health.
We can’t have a discussion about minerals without addressing Enzymes.
Enzymes are substances produced by a living organism primarily from amino acids (protein) which act as catalysts to bring about a specific biochemical reaction. There are trillions in the body.
Minerals create and build enzymes and act as enzyme activators.
All cells require enzymes to work properly. Each function in the body has specific binding sites (enzyme binding receptor site) for enzymes to do their job. One to two minerals and their vitamin co-factors are present at the site to help them function and complete the job. Each enzyme is specific in its fitting the biochemical reactions by which it was designed like a key to a lock. Every organ and tissue have their own specialized group of enzymes.
Without enzymes or minerals, the cells of the body will no longer function.
Vitamins are synergistic to minerals as co- enzymes, therefore mineral imbalances will also have correlating imbalances in the vitamins they are synergistic with.
Now About Magnesium…..
Magnesium in particular is magic, as it IS the master mineral essentially sparking us to life.
Some authorities have argued that some typical manifestations of aging—such as loss of muscle mass, rising blood pressure, and diminished nervous system function—are partly attributable to magnesium deficiency.
50% is in bone, 50% remainder is in muscle and other tissues, 1% is in blood.
It is the second most abundant mineral next to potassium.
Magnesium Roles in the Body
Magnesium is necessary for more than 360 (up to 800 by some sources) biochemical reactions in the body.
It ignites metabolic reaction in the body for production and transportation of energy. It works inside tissue cells, bonding with ATP to produce energy for our body’s vital force.
It helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function.
It supports a healthy immune system.
It keeps the heart rhythm steady.
It helps bones remain strong.
It helps regulate blood glucose levels.
It aids in the production of protein.
It supports blood pressure regulation.
Nutrients Needed to Work with Magnesium (co-factors)
No mineral works in isolation. It’s a team effort!
Vitamin B6 is needed to help Mg get inside the cell.
Boron helps Mg stay in the cell.
Bicarbonate, magnesium, potassium, and sodium bicarbonate have a close relationship. Magnesium bicarbonate is necessary for the function of the sodium/potassium pump. If a magnesium bicarbonate deficiency occurs, then pumping sodium bicarbonate out of the cell and pumping potassium bicarbonate into the cell is impaired.
Additional co-factors are needed to improve magnesium intake and absorption.
Magnesium, like other minerals has synergistic or antagonistic relationships with other minerals.
Calcium and magnesium work together in many functions, such as regulating heartbeat, muscle tone and contraction, and nerve conduction. At other times, calcium and magnesium seem to compete by binding competitively to the same sites in the body.
Magnesium and calcium metabolism are closely related. The intestinal absorption and the renal (kidney) excretion of the two are interdependent.
If calcium and magnesium supplemented together, they may compete for absorption.
Severe deficiency can impede Vitamin D and calcium homeostasis (too much calcium can be retained depositing in soft tissue causing stiffness.)
High doses of zinc in supplemental form can interfere with the absorption of magnesium.
Symptoms of Excess
Toxic symptoms from increased magnesium intake are not common because the body eliminates excess amounts unless there are serious problems with kidney function. Magnesium excess sometimes occurs when magnesium is supplemented as a medication (intravenously).
Symptoms are similar to those of deficiency. If you receive an IV infusion of magnesium and experience side effect. Drink water to flush it out through the kidneys.
Symptoms of Deficiency
Deficiency results in increased release of histamine. You may experience symptoms related to increased histamine (allergy). It causes and underpins any chronic inflammatory buildups.
Excess natural pain
Food craving, especially sugar or caffeine and simple carbs
Loss of appetite
Poor memory and concentration
Conditions Which Would Worsen if Magnesium Not Replaced………
Anxiety and panic attacks
Attention deficit disorder
Backache, upper back issues
Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol and triglycerides)
Insulin resistance or pre-diabetes
Persistent Deficiency Results in……..
Mitral valve prolapse
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Failure to thrive
Mitral valve prolapse with deficiency or low magnesium to calcium ratio
There are lots of causes of Mg deficiency. Here’s a good list…..
Pharmaceutics-diuretics and BCP’s increase excretion in kidneys.
Calcium or Vitamin D supplementation
Phosphates (found in effervescent drinks)
Use of pesticides/herbicides –binds with magnesium, making it unavailable for up to 30 years.
Inadequate dietary intake of high magnesium foods
Junk food – Liver needs 28 atoms of Mg to process one molecule of glucose and 56 for fructose (fruit and high fructose corn syrup which is in many processed foods)
Stress depletes all minerals. Stress (bursts of adrenaline) uses up magnesium and deficiency magnifies. There are more than a dozen MAJOR metabolic processes that are affected by bursts of adrenaline including heart rate, BP, vessel constriction, contraction of muscles including heart. Each of those processed require magnesium to bring them back in balance. This creates a conundrum!!
Heavy metal toxicity – depletes all minerals trying to remove the metals from body.
How Much You Need
In general, up to 5x body weight if deficient- but it is best to be tested. More on that below.
You probably also need other co-factor minerals and vitamins to work with magnesium but should be tested to know which ones and quantity needed.
Do you ever wonder why you crave chocolate? Especially if you’re a woman? And the craving gets worse with your cycle? It’s probably your body telling you it needs more magnesium!!
Here are the Best Sources of Mg in Food
Green leafy vegetables
Beans (lima beans)
Seeds (squash, pumpkin)
Tuna (limited quantity recommended due to mercury in waters)
Note: Beans, nuts and seeds must be soaked properly to release the phytic acid and make nutrients available to the body
I like to start by recommending a topical form. Skin is our largest organ and magnesium is very well absorbed through the skin without worrying about whether it’s going to give you diarrhea. You can use it as spray, lotion, body butter or magnesium oil in your bath.
Note: Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salts) DOES NOT restore tissue levels of magnesium BUT is good for relaxing muscles and as a gentle form of detoxification. I recommend it for clients who are trying to remove aluminum from their bodies.
There are so many forms of magnesium oral supplements. Here’s a list to help you decide what you want to take. Ideally you take magnesium supplements at bedtime as it can help you sleep. Moms, you may want to put some body butter or lotion on your kiddos’ feet when you have trouble getting them to sleep.
Magnesium Gluconate has the highest absorption rate and has laxative effect.
Magnesium Oxide is poorly absorbed.
Magnesium Citrate is absorbed relatively well and has laxative effects.
Magnesium Hydroxide is found in some antacids and milk of magnesia laxative.
Magnesium Aspartate is highly absorbed and has laxative effect.
Magnesium Glycinate is absorbed relatively well and has less laxative effect.
Magnesium Taurate or orotate are good for irregular heart rhythm and high blood pressure. It has an excellent absorption rate and provides a calming effect on the body. Does not have a laxative effect.
Magnesium Threonate crosses the blood brain barrier and may be the best for brain health including memory loss.
How to Determine One’s Mineral Status
A standard blood test is NOT recommended because only a small percentage of minerals circulating in blood and most is in tissues. Blood test cannot see that.
You can ask your practitioner for an RBC Mg (Red Blood Cell Magnesium) Level which looks at Mg inside red blood cell and reflects level in other cells.
Hair Mineral Tissue Analysis is the best method because it reflects the mineral content of your tissues, where minerals live. (See HTMA page)
Here’s some things to think about as we think about mineral balance.
Even nutrient overload can cause more issues than can deficiencies. The essence of nutritional therapy is to identify each person’s nutrient overload and deficiencies and provide a game plan that helps normalize the body’s systems.
We really must know for sure our body’s mineral levels to help us know what to eat and how to supplement correctly.
Minerals will work harder to free or liberate from food during digestion if digestion is compromised in any way. And if so, minerals will not fully be absorbed. So, absorption from the GI tract is the first step in getting minerals into circulation.
Hair trace mineral analysis can evaluate vitamin needs as minerals interact not only with each other, but also with vitamins, protein, carbohydrates and fat.