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The Benefits of Magnesium

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential mineral crucial for our body and brain. It is required for 800 enzymatic reactions, and every cell in our body contains it.

Studies on Magnesium

Studies show magnesium can help improve exercise performance, reduce depression symptoms, lower blood pressure, prevent migraines, improve PMS symptoms, decrease the risk of osteoporosis, fractures, and bone loss, improve sleep quality, reduce anxiety, improve blood sugar levels, and increase insulin sensitivity.

However,  approximately 50% of U.S. adults get less than the recommended daily amount of magnesium. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Muscle cramps/spasms
  • Muscle twitching
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Headaches
  • Heavy menstrual cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Increase of kidney stones
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Coronary artery calcification
Types of magnesium

Note: Bioavailability refers to the amount of a nutrient absorbed into the bloodstream. Remember that just because a supplement claims to contain a particular amount of a specific nutrient, your body may not absorb the entire amount.

Glycinate – sleep and anxiety – good bioavailability – no laxative effect

Malate – helps with chronic fatigue, insomnia, and fibromyalgia – high bioavailability.

Citrate – helps with constipation – very cheap – high bioavailability. Magnesium citrate proved to be far superior in double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials, reducing the occurrence of kidney stones by 90%.

Oxide – promotes bowel movements, low bioavailability. One study showed only a 4% absorption rate of magnesium oxide. This means 12 mg of a 500 mg capsule is absorbed, and 288 mg stays in the intestines.

Threonate – helps with cognition and memory – more expensive – high bioavailability.

Chloride – best for digestion + improves insulin sensitivity – good bioavailability

Orotate – promotes heart health – good bioavailability

Sulfate – muscle soreness + detox (think Epson salt) – low bioavailability

Taurate – helps with heart function – good bioavailability.

The nutrition facts label or ingredients will indicate the kind of magnesium in the product.

Magnesium Dosage

The RDA recommends 320 mg for women and 420 mg for men.

However, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for nutrients is set at the minimum level to stave off deficiency symptoms, not at the optimum level that ensures good health.

A better recommendation for magnesium is to take 4-6 mg of magnesium per pound of body weight for both men and women.

Other factors that increase the need for magnesium include high stress, elevated blood glucose and insulin levels, a diet high in refined carbs/sugar, alcohol, prescription drugs, aging, and antacids.

You can find magnesium in dairy, dark leafy greens, almonds, whole grains, dark chocolate, and pumpkin seeds. However, due to modern-day food production and soil degradation, most food contains much less magnesium than years ago. Even if you have a good diet, you’re likely only getting 120 mg of magnesium.

Also, if you are taking a multivitamin or mineral, remember to check the amount of magnesium on the label and count it in your daily total.

Keep in mind

If you experience diarrhea, take magnesium throughout the day. If that doesn’t work, reduce the amount you take.

Magnesium may be harmful to people who are taking certain medications or supplements; it is best to talk with a doctor or pharmacist to prevent drug interactions.

When buying magnesium, you might find that you must take 3-6 tablets to make up the dosage on the label. The label may be in small print but read the nutrition label carefully to understand what each tablet contains. Also, look for it to be third-party tested or labeled with the U.S. Pharmacopeia. To see the magnesium glycinate/malate that I take, click here.


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