Magnesium is a mineral that is crucial to the body’s functioning – in fact, it’s involved in more than 300 biochemical functions in the body, like regulating heartbeat rhythms, helping maintain normal muscle and neurotransmitter functions as well as keeping your immune system strong.
Magnesium is a macro-mineral, which, unlike trace minerals, is needed by the body in large amounts. A magnesium deficiency is one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in adults today – by some estimates, as many as 80 percent of American adults aren’t getting enough magnesium, and research has found that just 25 percent are getting the recommended daily amount: 400 to 420 milligrams for men, and 310 to 320 milligrams for women.
Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms
With those odds, there’s a good chance that you’re magnesium deficient too. But how do you know, other than having your blood tested? Low magnesium levels can bring on a number of symptoms, including these:
Leg cramps. Leg cramps are fairly common. More than 70 percent of adults suffer from them fairly regularly, and while they usually go away after a few minutes, the pain can be debilitating. While they’re not always caused by an underlying condition, a lack of magnesium in your diet can lead to this problem. Those who add more magnesium-rich foods to their diet, or take a supplement, typically find relief.
Anxiety. If you feel anxious frequently, it may not just be the current state of the world. Anxiety is actually one of the more common symptoms of a magnesium deficiency.
Insomnia. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, your body may be lacking magnesium. If you don’t have enough magnesium it can prevent your brain from relaxing enough as it has a key role in the central nervous system.
Hypertension. Magnesium also helps to relax and dilate the blood vessels, so if you don’t get enough in can result in high blood pressure by increasing blood vessel constriction.
Headaches or migraines. Research has shown that those who suffer from migraines often have lower levels of magnesium. A number of studies have also suggested that taking a magnesium supplement may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks in those who lack magnesium, and some studies have suggested that it can also help women who experience migraines that are triggered by their periods.
Acid reflux or heartburn. If you frequently suffer from acid reflux or heartburn, and especially if you’re taking a medication to control it and aren’t getting results, it could be due to a magnesium deficiency. That’s because magnesium helps sphincters at the top and bottom of the stomach relax to allow food to be digested properly. Without enough magnesium, the sphincters don’t function properly and as a result, that food, along with acid, can get pushed back up into the esophagus, resulting in the burning sensation. And, medications that block acid can actually make heartburn worse.
Constipation. Constipation is another sign of a lack of magnesium in the body because once again, it’s this mineral that provides a relaxing effect to the digestive tract. When there isn’t enough, the intestines contract more than usual which makes it more difficult to pass waste.
Fatigue. If you feel as if you’re constantly fatigued, you might think it’s simply because your life is just a little too crazy now, but fatigue and low energy levels can be a sign of a magnesium deficiency.
According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, who has extensively studied and written about magnesium, science has shown that a magnesium deficiency can trigger or cause many different conditions, some of which are rather serious, including:
- Blood clots
- Bowel diseases
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
It’s easy to see just how vital this nutrient is for our health and well-being. And, you may be at an even greater risk of suffering from a lack of magnesium if you’re in one of the following categories.
6 Reasons You Are At Heightened Risk Of Magnesium Deficiency
You have type 2 diabetes. If you’re diabetic, you’re likely to urinate more often which makes it more difficult to absorb the magnesium you need.
You overindulge in alcohol. Alcohol consumption, even if you aren’t an alcoholic can prevent your body from properly absorbing nutrients from food, including magnesium. Even what many consider to be a relatively small amount, 3 glasses of wine each week, could be taxing your liver and causing a mineral deficiency. Alcohol dehydrates, compromises the immune system, disrupts sleep and creates an imbalance of gut bacteria.
You have a digestive disorder. If you have a digestive disorder like celiac disease or Chron’s, you’re more likely to lack magnesium because those conditions can impair magnesium absorption.
You take a lot of antibiotics. If you tend to take a lot of antibiotics that can damage your digestive tract and make it harder for magnesium to be absorbed from foods.
You’re elderly. As one grows older, their magnesium levels drop – and many people who are elderly tend to eat fewer magnesium-rich foods.
You drink a lot of soda or caffeine. This can also cause magnesium absorption problems.
Another reason behind the high rates of magnesium deficiency: nutrient depleted foods
Even if you think you’re doing everything right, eating a nutritious diet, drinking lots of water and getting regular exercise, etc., that doesn’t mean your body is getting the magnesium it needs. One of the reasons for that is that our modern agriculture takes many of the important minerals we need like magnesium, out of the soil, which means our foods aren’t as rich in magnesium as they once were. It used to be that farmers would allow their soil to rest, which would give it time to recover and regenerate, by harvesting crops for six years and then taking a year off. That resulted in crops that were more nutrient rich. Now, many farmers just can’t afford to do this, not to mention that addition of pesticides and other harmful chemicals used on crops too, which can further deplete nutritional value.
8 Ways To Get All The Magnesium You Need
It’s no wonder so many people are lacking nutrients like magnesium. As it’s obviously vital to get an adequate amount, how can you ensure that you’re giving your body what it needs?
You might think that you’d have to eat 10 bags of spinach every day just to get enough, but the good news is that you don’t have to turn yourself into Popeye. While this leafy green does offer a good amount of magnesium, 20 percent of the daily value in a half-cup serving, there are many other ways to boost your magnesium levels – and not all include food either!
1. Take A Magnesium-Rich Epsom Salt Bath
For centuries, Epsom salt baths have been used therapeutically. Many people who are dealing with magnesium deficiency notice an improvement in symptoms when they soak in the mineral-rich water. Epsom salt is a compound of magnesium and sulfate, both of which are easily absorbed through the skin. That makes taking an Epsom salt bath a great way to boost your magnesium levels. By simply soaking your feet, or your entire body, in a bath with Epsom salt, your internal levels of magnesium are increased naturally.
You can simply add Epsom salt to your own favorite detox bath recipe, or try this one:
- Add two cups of Epsoak Epsom salt to a bath with warm, but not steaming hot, water.
- Soak for 15-20 minutes, ideally 3 times each week.
That’s all there is to it. If you want to switch things up and enjoy a nice foot soak, simply reduce the amount of salt and add it to a foot bath for a luxurious, therapeutic at-home spa-experience. When you’re short on time, you can make a paste to use in your shower by combining one-quarter cup extra-virgin olive oil with enough Epsom salt to make a paste. Then use it as a scrub in the shower.
2. DIY Magnesium Oil
Improve your overall health by spraying some magnesium oil onto your skin before bed, and let the mineral work its magic while you sleep.
Making it at home is incredibly easy and all you need are two ingredients: filtered or distilled water and magnesium chloride flakes. You can buy magnesium chloride flakes online or purchase them at many health food stores. If you don’t want to make it yourself, magnesium oil can also be purchased on Amazon, such as this Life-Flo Pure Magnesium Oil.
You can make a smaller or larger batch depending on your needs, the ratio of flakes to water is 1:1. To make it:
- Add a half-cup of the magnesium chloride flakes and a half-cup of filtered or distilled water to a small pan.
- Heat the mixture over low heat until the flakes are completely dissolved
- Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
- Pour the mixture into a glass spray bottle.
- After spraying (you can spray it anywhere on your body, but your torso and underarm areas are ideal), allow it to dry for 30 minutes. You can leave it on, or you can rinse it after that.
For a full tutorial, visit our guide here.
3. Magnesium Lotion
If you prefer the feel of a lotion, you can make a magnesium lotion fairly easily at home too. While this recipe creates a very thick, luxurious lotion, it can easily be thinned down by reducing the beeswax or leaving it out completely.
To make it you’ll need the following:
- 1 heaping cup magnesium chloride flakes
- 8 to 10 oz. filtered or distilled water
- 2 cups coconut oil or grapeseed oil (if you have oily skin, use grapeseed)
- 3 to 6 tbsp Beeswax (Beeswax Pastilles or grated Beeswax – if using coconut oil use a lesser amount, for grapeseed use more)
- Bring the water to simmer and then remove it from the heat.
- Pour in the magnesium flakes and stir until the flakes completely dissolve.
- In a double boiler, stir the coconut or grapeseed oil and beeswax over medium-low heat until the entire mixture has totally melted.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool until just slightly warm.
- Pour the mixture into a deep, somewhat narrow container.
- Put an immersion blender into the container all the way in.
- Turn the blender on and then very slowly lift it toward the top of the liquid. Continue to move it up and down until the liquids are well blended. Alternatively, you can use a regular blender 0 while it’s running, pour into the mixture in very slowly.
- Allow the mixture to cool for several hours and then blend again.
Don’t fancy a DIY? You can also purchase ready-made magnesium lotion from Life-Flo here.
4. Magnesium Body Butter
This body butter is another great way to boost magnesium levels, plus it’s incredibly moisturizing, can soothe sore muscles and even offers a small amount of sun protection. Coconut oil and shea butter are both naturally SPF of 4 to 5 and magnesium is needed for absorption of Vitamin D.
To make it, you’ll need:
- 1/2 cup magnesium flakes + 3 tbsp boiling water or 1/2 cup magnesium oil
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 2 tbsp emulsifying wax or beeswax (emulsifying wax is preferable as it’s easier to mix)
- 3 tbsp shea butter
- Add the boiling water to the magnesium flakes in a small container and stir until it dissolves to create a thick liquid; set aside to cool.
- Combine coconut oil, emulsifying wax or beeswax and shea butter in a quart size mason jar that’s been placed inside a small pan with about an inch of water over medium heat.
- When melted, remove the jar from the pan and allow the mixture to cool until it reaches room temperature and is slightly opaque.
- Place the mixture into a medium bowl.
- Use a hand blender or an immersion blender and blend on medium speed. Slowly add dissolved magnesium mixture, one drop at a time, to the oil mixture, constantly stirring until the entire magnesium mixture has been blended in thoroughly.
- Place it into the refrigerator for 15 minutes, and then remove and blend again in order to achieve a more butter-like consistency.
5. Soothing Magnesium Foot Scrub
This soothing scrub moisturizes and exfoliates – and, it smells wonderful too. Plus you can use different essential oil combinations to create different aromas and change things up occasionally.
While Epsom salt is rough on its own, adding some soothing ingredients like essential oils helps to create a scrub that is not only exfoliating and moisturizing, helping to ease problems like dry skin or irritations, it also helps you soak up the magnesium. While the essential oils you add are really up to you, these combinations are particularly good:
- 10 drops lavender essential oil + 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 10 drops citrus essential oil + 5 drops peppermint essential oil
- 5 drops lemon essential oil + 5 drops rosemary essential oil
To make it, you’ll need:
- 1 cup Epsom salt or magnesium flakes
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp liquid Castile soap
- 10 to 15 drops of essential oil of your choice or one of the combinations listed above. You can purchase all of the essential oils you could ever need from this page at Plant Therapy.
- In a small bowl, mix all ingredients and add essential oils or scents until the desired scent is achieved.
- Use a teaspoon sized amount to exfoliate feet or body as needed; rinse after use.
6. Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods
As we mentioned, spinach is a great source of magnesium, but there are many others, making it easier to get more of this important nutrient in your diet:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Black beans
- Brazil nuts
- Dark chocolate
Try These: Homemade Magnesium Boost Balls
7. Juice Your Greens
One way to really increase your magnesium, as well as many other important plant-based nutrients, is by juicing your greens, as renowned physician and alternative medicine proponent Dr. Mercola recommends.
Juicing will help you absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables, which, as we mentioned, is particularly important as so many of us have impaired digestion as a result of making poor food choices over the years which limits the body’s ability to absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables. Juicing helps to “pre-digest” them so that you’ll receive most of the nutrition, rather than having it go down the toilet.
Dr. Mercola recommends drinking one pint to one quart of fresh green veggie juice each day, and this can be your primary source of magnesium. He also notes that as vegetable juice has very little protein and virtually no fat, by itself, it is not really a complete food so it should be used in addition to your regular meals, not in place of them.
Here’s how to do it:
If you’re new to juicing, he recommends starting out with three vegetables: celery, fennel, and cucumbers. While they aren’t as nutritionally dense, they’re easily digested and tolerated, and you can start adding more nutrient-rich veggies as your body adjusts. Once your digestive system is used to consuming a large amount of vegetables, you can begin adding spinach, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, romaine, endive, and escarole.
8. Magnesium Supplements
You can also take a supplement to boost your magnesium levels. Choose a high quality oral supplement and take it twice a day, with either breakfast and dinner or lunch and dinner. Some of the best magnesium supplements include: