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If you suffer from migraines, PMS, low bone mass, or insomnia, then magnesium deficiency might be at least part of the cause. This article explains how magnesium supplementation from food and supplements can help.
How Magnesium is Used in the Body
Magnesium is the second most abundant element inside of human cells. It serves hundreds of functions and so the body needs it in large amounts. Magnesium powers over 300 enzyme-driven biochemical functions on a constant basis. It serves as a source of energy, powering ATP molecules and mitochondria.
Magnesium also provides structural support for the body and regulates many bodily functions such as muscle relaxation. It aids in glucose and fat breakdown. It helps produce proteins, enzymes and antioxidants. It assists in the creation and repair of DNA and RNA. It helps regulate cholesterol. See, I told you it is important!
Since magnesium is so vital to so many different functions, you can imagine that being deficient in a mineral as necessary as magnesium can have detrimental effects on the way our bodies function, including symptoms such as PMS, migraines, and anxiety (just to name a few).
Why So Many of Us are Deficient in Magnesium
Magnesium deficiency is one of the leading deficiencies in adults. We can try to eat a more nutrient-dense whole foods diet, but the truth is, it’s still harder today than it was several generations ago to get magnesium into our diets. The reason for this is depleted and over-tilled soils that are used to grow our crops.
Another reason people could be deficient in magnesium is because they are on prescription drugs. Proton pump inhibitors, prescribed for those with heartburn, lower stomach acid production making it nearly impossible for those who are on it to properly absorb magnesium from their diet. Diuretics, painkillers and certain steroids can also have a negative impact on magnesium absorption.
Drinking caffeinated beverages, sugary juices, alcohol and soda on a regular basis can deplete our bodies of magnesium or block its absorption. These beverages all have a diuretic effect on our bodies, which results in a quick loss of magnesium through our urine and feces before it can be absorbed.
Lastly, magnesium deficiency can be caused from taking birth control pills and from having digestive problems such as leaky gut or celiac disease that might cause the body to not absorb it as well.
The Effects of Magnesium Deficiency
As stated above, magnesium is required for hundreds of enzyme-driven biochemical functions within the body. Early signs of magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps, irritability, sugar cravings, brain fog, dizziness, sleep problems and fatigue.
More serious problems that develop due to a lack of magnesium include hypertension, poor digestion, artery calcification, PMS, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, fibromyalgia, hormone imbalances, migraines, fertility problems, pregnancy complications, osteoporosis and more.
Foods Rich in Magnesium
In order to remedy magnesium deficiency in our bodies, we can focus on consuming foods rich in this mineral. Some magnesium-rich foods include:
- Swiss chard
- pumpkin seeds
- raw cacao or dark chocolate with an 85% or higher cacao content
It’s important to heal the gut and aim for optimal digestion as well so that magnesium and other nutrients can be absorbed and used properly. I stopped using hormonal birth control about 10 years ago. I also advise buying organic as much as possible as well because crops sprayed with glyphosate can disrupt magnesium absorption.
Supplementing with Magnesium
When dietary magnesium isn’t enough, and it rarely is these days, consider taking a magnesium supplement to ensure that you’re getting a good amount of this important mineral. There are a few different types of magnesium and finding the right one for your situation is important. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of magnesium and what they are generally used for.
For specific dosing recommendations, I like to refer to Dr. Aviva Romm’s article about magnesium supplements for women. But, you should consult your healthcare provider if you suspect a magnesium deficiency and plan to start supplementing with magnesium. There are a few contraindications to taking it that you can discuss with your provider and will help determine which version is right for your specific situation.
Different Types of Magnesium Supplements
This type of magnesium contains citric acid and is often used as a mild laxative. Small doses can be used to correct restlessness as well. This is the main source of magnesium in the popular supplement powders and can have a calming effect on our nerves. But too much can cause diarrhea. Magnesium citrate is recommended for those who are suffering from constipation. Here is the LifeExtension version that I like to travel with to relieve occasional traveler’s constipation.
This is a chelated form of magnesium that is easily absorbed. It generally provides the highest level of bioavailability due to its higher absorption rate. This is the one recommended for those who are trying to remedy a general magnesium deficiency. It can also be helpful in calming the nerves, relaxing the muscles and decreasing the chances of migraines. It is currently being studied in gut healing therapies. LifeExtension sells a product with magnesium glycinate here.
This is a non-chelated form of magnesium bound to an organic acid or a fatty acid. It also has a mild laxative effect. Take it in small doses throughout the day if you are constipated. This Bone Restore product includes magnesium oxide.
This type of magnesium is recommended for people trying to correct or prevent heart disease. This form can be energizing and can also benefit those who suffer from fibromyalgia and muscle cramps. However, other forms of magnesium are better for these purposes.
Small doses of this form of magnesium have been shown to benefit those with multiple sclerosis, mood disorders, alcoholism and radiation effects of cancer.
This form only contains about 12% magnesium but is better absorbed than other forms. It is used for detoxification, improving metabolic functions, and kidney function support.
This form of magnesium is a combination of magnesium and the amino acid taurine. Together they tend to have a calming effect on the body. They are generally used for cardiovascular health.
This is my preferred form of magnesium. It has shown promising benefits for those who have anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health disorders. Magnesium threonate is easily able to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane and is easily absorbed since it can cross the blood-brain barrier. It has also been used in recovery treatment for those who have suffered from eating disorders. I use the LifeExtension NeuroMag Magnesium L-Threonate products, available in capsules or powder.
Other ways to supplement with magnesium include topical creams, oils, and epsom salt soaks.
My Experience Using Magnesium & Favorite Supplements
As I mentioned, I’ve had a lot of experience battling some serious health issues, and supplementing with magnesium has made a HUGE positive difference. I take both magnesium glycinate and magnesium L-threonate daily, and my symptoms of PMS, anxiety, and insomnia have improved.
Tell me about your experience supplementing with magnesium, has it made a difference for you and with what condition?
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