Magnesium is an important mineral that many Americans are lacking. In fact, some reports estimate that as many as 80 percent aren’t getting enough of this nutrient. If you’re one of them, you may experience everything from weakness and fatigue to cramps, mild nausea, seizures and even coronary spasms. Magnesium is something that’s utilized by every organ in your body, especially your heart, muscles, and kidneys. Most of it is stored in the bones and organs, where it’s used for many biological functions, but it’s also quite possible to be deficient and not know it, which is why a magnesium deficiency has been called an “invisible deficiency.”
Science has discovered that magnesium is also found in over 300 different enzymes in the body and that it plays a key role in detoxification processes, making it essential for helping to prevent damage from things like heavy metals, environmental chemicals, and other toxins. As only about 30 to 40 percent of magnesium from food is absorbed by the body, magnesium supplements can be crucial for helping anyone to meet their daily requirement.
This macro-mineral, which, unlike trace minerals, is required in rather large amounts for the body to function properly: 400 to 420 milligrams for men, and 310 to 320 milligrams for women.
8 Signs Of Magnesium Deficiency
Leg cramps. More than 70 percent of adults suffer from leg cramps on a regular basis. While they usually go away after a few minutes, the pain can be debilitating. Although leg cramps can result from an underlying condition, a lack of magnesium can also be the cause.
Anxiety. Anxiety can be brought on by many things, from the current state of the world to the state of your finances and everything in between, but it can also result from a magnesium deficiency.
Insomnia. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, your body may be lacking magnesium, as the mineral is necessary for allowing your brain to relax enough so that you can get a good night’s sleep.
Hypertension. In addition to playing a part in the nervous system to help the brain relax, magnesium also helps to relax and dilate the blood vessels. That means a deficiency can result in high blood pressure by increasing blood vessel constriction.
Headaches or migraines. Studies have demonstrated that those who suffer from migraines often have lower levels of magnesium. Research has 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, 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 on 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.
7 Benefits of Magnesium
By ensuring that your body gets the magnesium you need, you can decrease the chances of experiencing those symptoms, while enjoying numerous benefits.
Better bone health. Magnesium regulates the levels of calcium absorbed by the body, along with zinc, copper, and vitamin D. Not only do these minerals help keep your bones healthy and strong, but they help to lower the risk of developing osteoporosis in the future. Magnesium can also ensure a more beautiful smile too, as it helps the body absorb calcium better, leading to stronger teeth as well as stronger bones.
Pain relief. A 2010 study tested the theory that magnesium may reduce nerve pain in patients. N-methyl-D-aspartate or NMDA is a brain chemical that triggers nerve pain when overstimulated, and researchers found that the mineral can help to calm this chemical to ease chronic pain. Magnesium also benefits by easing muscle pain as it causes the muscle to relax, decreasing pain that’s associated with overworked muscles.
Improved heart health. If you don’t get enough magnesium, it can lead to heart disease. Research that was published in the Circulation Journal found that when heart disease patients took magnesium supplements twice each day for six months, both their blood vessel strength and physical stamina improved.
Lowering the risk of diabetes. Research has found that those who lack magnesium have a greater risk of developing diabetes and the opposite is true as well. People who meet the recommended daily intake of the mineral are much more likely to enjoy a diabetes-free future, as magnesium helps to trigger the release of insulin, allowing for healthier blood sugar levels.
Boosting Energy. While a magnesium deficiency often means fatigue, getting enough of the mineral helps to boost energy as it’s actually utilized in order to create energy by activating something called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. A low intake of magnesium means that you’ll fatigue more quickly, and require more oxygen while you’re exercising. One study demonstrated that when women who had a magnesium deficiency worked out, they needed more oxygen, even for low-level activities.
Stronger Muscles and a Fitter Body as a Whole. Magnesium is very important for those who want to build stronger muscles, something that’s not only essential for boosting athletic abilities, but also for losing weight as the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism, and the more calories the body burns. The body requires magnesium, as well as zinc, iron, chromium, and calcium, in order to build muscle. In fact, even a minor deficiency in magnesium can hinder muscle growth.
Feeling Happy and Calm. As mentioned, a lack of magnesium can result in anxiety but get enough of the mineral, and you’re much more likely to feel happy and calm more often. That’s because it’s essential for proper functioning of GABA, which is a neurotransmitter that produces feel-good hormones like serotonin. A number of other hormones that are regulated by magnesium is also critical for promoting relaxation and calm, which is why getting enough can also help prevent insomnia.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Neuropharmacology, revealed that when mice became magnesium-deficient, they exhibited enhanced anxiety-related behaviors, as compared to mice that received magnesium supplements. The mice with a magnesium deficiency experienced an increase in the production of cortisol via the activation of the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus, a part of the brain that controls responses to stress and anxiety.
How To Get The Magnesium You Need
As it’s obviously vital to get an adequate amount of magnesium, 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 foods and even other ways to boost your magnesium levels.
In addition to dark leafy greens, especially raw spinach, you should regularly consume magnesium-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, black beans and quinoa, which contain some of the highest amounts of magnesium. Brown rice, peas, oatmeal, and broccoli are all good sources too.
The Need For Magnesium Supplements
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 the soil in their fields to rest, which would give it time to recover and regenerate, by harvesting crops six years and then taking a year off. That resulted in crops that were more nutrient rich. These days, many farmers just can’t afford to do this, not to mention the addition of pesticides and other harmful chemicals used on crops too, which can further deplete nutritional value.
There are other factors that can lead to a magnesium deficiency too, including digestive problems that lead to malabsorption of magnesium, and prescription medications that cause damage to the digestive tract, which leads to the improper absorption of the mineral and the inability to properly utilize it from foods.
Additionally, the body loses its stores of magnesium every day simply by performing normal bodily functions, like regulating heartbeat and hormone production and moving the muscles. Although the body only requires a small amount of magnesium compared to other nutrients, the stores have to replenished regularly to prevent symptoms of deficiency.
But how do you know if you are lacking in magnesium? It’s difficult to assess actual levels in your body, as this mineral is mainly within the bones, or inside the body’s cells, and not in the bloodstream, which can make blood test results rather misleading when trying to determine a deficiency.
While it’s still best to get your magnesium from a healthy diet that includes magnesium-rich foods, most people can benefit from taking a magnesium supplement too. Supplements are available in a number of different forms, and the absorption rate and bioavailability of each type can differ. In general, the types that dissolve in a liquid are better absorbed in the gut than less soluble forms.
Which Magnesium Supplements to Take
As there are multiple types of magnesium supplements, it can be somewhat confusing as to which one to take. These three are all considered high-quality magnesium supplements that you may want to consider purchasing. Plus, they’re conveniently available online at Amazon, so you won’t even have to drive to the health food store.
Natural Vitality offers Natural Calm Magnesium Anti-Stress supplements using ionic magnesium citrate on Amazon in both 8-ounce and 16-ounce sizes.
Magnesium citrate is a combined form of magnesium and citric acid. Unlike most other types of magnesium supplements, magnesium citrate has an acidic pH and is often used as a food additive to regulate overall acidity. When taken, this form of magnesium has the ability to attract water inside your body, pulling it towards your colon through a process known as osmosis.
Natural Vitality’s supplement is specifically aimed to relieve stress, induce relaxation, support a healthy immune system and stronger bones, while also helping to restore magnesium levels. It’s vegan, organic, gluten-free, and Non-GMO Project Verified.
Get it on Amazon here.
KAL offers Magnesium Glycinate, with an 180-count bottle currently available on Amazon all-around most easily absorbable for the body. Magnesium Glycinate is the magnesium salt of a compound called glycine, an amino acid. This form of magnesium is commonly found in ‘chelated’ magnesium products, and is the type oftenr ecommended by healthcare professionals to patients that are seeking to raise magnesium serum levels for treatment of magnesium deficiency, officially referred to as hypomagnesemia.
Get it here on Amazon.
Pure Encapsulations is another good option, made from magnesium glycinate to support physiological functioning. An 180-count bottle currently sells from this page on Amazon.