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Understanding Magnesium

One of the leading deficiencies in people is magnesium. An estimated 80% of people are deficient. When you consider all the functions it helps perform in the body, I feel like everyone should be supplementing. That is my personal opinion and you should always consult a doctor and decide for yourself.  

Magnesium is considered the “relaxation mineral” and is involved in nearly every body process. It is an essential mineral and an electrolyte. It is extremely important for metabolism, enzyme function, energy production, and is mainly concentrated in metabolically active areas, i.e. brain, bones, and muscles. We need only a small amount of magnesium that needs to be replenished on a regular basis in order to prevent a deficiency. There are many nutrients and minerals in your body that need to be balanced with each other. Magnesium needs to be balanced with calcium at a 2.5:1 ratio, calcium to magnesium.  

If you are supplementing with calcium, as most women are, making sure you are adding in magnesium is just as important. Magnesium is required for calcium to be utilized. Finding a supplement that has a 1:1 ratio is sufficient. Magnesium activates protein and carbohydrate metabolism, it activates energy production, and most importantly, it is a critical cell membrane component. The cell membrane is the bouncer of the cell; it decides what goes in and what comes out. You want to make sure that the good stuff is going in and the bad is leaving, as opposed to good stuff not getting in and the bad stuff staying. This leads to inflammation and disease! Magnesium is essential to activating the enzymes used for glucose to glycogen conversion and can help prevent Type 2 Diabetes. It can also help with sleep, particularly those who fall asleep, wake up and can’t fall back to sleep. On the plus side, if you can’t poo, it helps with that!

As I mentioned before, magnesium should be taken with calcium, but that isn’t the only friend that it needs. Outside of calcium, Vitamin B6 (25-50mg), Sodium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, Vitamins C, D, and E are needed as well. The best way to do that is to eat your veggies. Yes, I said it: eat your vegetables. The best way to get this is to eat a wide variety of whole foods. I am always going to advocate for that. Eating the Rainbow is once again a rule. Think dark leafy greens, sea veggies, nuts & seeds, avocado, beans & legumes, and blackstrap molasses for magnesium. Red peppers, raspberries, radishes, and bananas for B6. When you are wanting to add potassium to your diet, don’t just rely on bananas. There are so many more foods that contain potassium, such as fish, chia seeds, mushrooms, artichokes, sweet potatoes, and sesame seeds. Phosphorus isn’t just eggs; it can include salmon, organ & muscle, black beans, scallops, and pumpkin seeds. Selenium is a little trickier. There isn’t enough in a lot of foods to truly supplement what we need, but Brazil nuts, nutritional yeast, snapper, lamb, oats, and brown rice are a good start. Just like selenium, Vitamin C isn’t just found in citrus fruits; it can be bell peppers, parsley, tomatoes, and mangos. The sun, fish, and cod liver oil are good sources of Vitamin D. For Vitamin E, you can add in eggs, whole grains, and organ meat.  What every single one of these have in common are GREEN veggies. Find a way to love them!

Unfortunately, given the high level of deficiency, it is hard to get the full amount of magnesium from your diet, no matter how healthy it is. Which sucks because I would prefer giving you foods as opposed to supplements, but that is not the way it is. Maintaining healthy stores is what is important. There are several reasons you might lose magnesium at a higher rate than normal, for example, those who are under stress or put their bodies under a lot of stress like athletes or those who continue to eat a diet full of refined grains and sugars and drink alcohol excessively. There are several signs of magnesium deficiency such as fatigue, constipation, blood sugar imbalance, inflammation, insomnia, migraines, muscle cramps, and PMS.  

Again, I would rather recommend foods as the supplement, but that is not always what is needed. Whole foods-based supplements are the next best thing. The best form of magnesium supplements are ones that end in “ate” such as glycinate, taurate, citrate. These are the cleated forms. The cleated form is the best for absorption. A multivitamin will have between 300-500mg and that is typically fine for most, but some can benefit from up to 100mg a day. There are several versions of magnesium and they tend to do several different things: magnesium citrate can act as a laxative, magnesium chloride for those with kidney disease, magnesium glycinate is the most absorbable and widely recommended and is least likely to cause laxative effects. In addition to supplements, bathing in Epsom salts can have positive effects. There is always magnesium oil that can help with muscle cramps and can act as a pain reliever. You can purchase this or you can make your own. 

If you are looking for help in this area or have concerns you might have a magnesium deficiency, let me know. I can help set you on the right path. 

Niki Claybrook holistic nurtitionist