Posted by Whitney Marema, APRN on 20th Apr 2023
Magical Magnesium: What You Need to Know
A deficiency in this mineral makes you twice as likely to die as other people, according to a study published in the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine. It also accounts for a long list of symptoms and diseases.. And half of Americans are deficient in the nutrient and don’t know it.
Did you know that magnesium is on the “crash cart” in hospitals because if someone is having a life threatening arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) they use IV magnesium to help correct it? This is because magnesium has over 300 enzyme reactions in the body and is found in ALL body tissues…but especially in the brain, muscles, and bones.
A person MUST have magnesium for your cells to make energy, for chemical pumps to work, to stabilize membranes, and to help muscles relax. That is why the list of conditions that are found related to magnesium deficiency is so long. There are over 3,500 medical references on magnesium deficiency!
I joke with my clients when I tell them that magnesium is my first answer to any problem I am presented with! It really is a little magical mineral. Personally, I use magnesium supplements to treat mine or my family members atrial fibrillation, constipation, poor sleep, sore muscles after a workout, menstrual cramps, anxiety, and headaches.
Here is a list of symptoms that may be associated with magnesium deficiency:
Muscle cramps/twitches, muscle pain/tightness, insomnia, irritability, sensitivity to loud noises, anxiety, autism, ADD, palpitations, angina, constipation, anal spasms, migraines, fibromyalgia, migraines, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, asthma, kidney stones, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, PMS, menstrual cramps, irritable bladder, irritable bowel, GERD/heartburn, Reflux, trouble swallowing, insulin resistance, and high inflammation.
Why are Americans deficient? Contributing factors include commercial farming and nutrient poor soil, diets full of white flour, meat, and dairy which all lack magnesium, high consumption of coffee, soda, alcohol and sugar.. All which deplete magnesium.
How to increase magnesium:
1.Foods high in magnesium include: kelp, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, garlic, dandelion greens, figs, dates and beans.
2. Magnesium supplements: it is important to choose quality supplements when it comes to magnesium, since it is a mineral this means that strong stomach acid is required to break it down. Bariatric patients often do not have strong stomach acid, making the QUALITY AND TYPE of minerals important. We simply will not absorb some forms. The best forms are:
- Magnesium Citrate- best for those seeking regular bowel movements or with constipation.
- Magnesium glycinate- best for those seeking general relaxation of muscles and mood.
- Combination forms that include the above forms along with perhaps magnesium malate, truarate, or threonate. Small amounts of oxide asa component will help with regulating bowel movements, however is not well systemically absorbed.
- Avoid single formulations of magnesium oxide, carbonate, sulfate, gluconate. These are poorly absorbed forms of minerals.. So avoidance of these forms applies to other minerals as well such as iron, zinc, & calcium.
3. Epsom soaks! If you have ever enjoyed the relaxation or improvement in muscular tension after a soak with these salts, it's because they are MAGNESIUM salts. Magnesium is “the most powerful relaxation mineral!” So, adding epsom salt baths, foot soaks, or magnesium creams or oils into our self care routine can not only FEEL good, but do our body good!
The only useful test for magnesium levels in the body is a Magnesium RBC (red blood cell) level. It is widely available at commercial labs. The reason this is preferred is that it looks at a 2 month average of levels inside of our cells, not just in our blood. Serum magnesium levels are regulated by our kidneys and don’t reflect low levels until it is really critically low. Additionally, serum levels pick up magnesium levels that we just ate or took in supplements in the last 24 hours, so if we just had a big serving of nuts yesterday, our serum magnesium levels could look great, and then 24 hours later could be very low.
RBC magnesium levels are optimal in the upper two thirds of the reference range.
Cautions: Those with heart disease or kidney disease should speak to their doctor before starting magnesium supplementation.