From energy production to protein synthesis and cell signalling, magnesium really does do it all. Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for your health and is involved in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. Interestingly, your body contains around 25 milligrams of magnesium, making it the fourth most abundant mineral in your body. More than half of this amount is concentrated in your bones, but magnesium can also be found in your soft tissues, and there is a very small amount (1%) circulating in your blood.
Despite its benefits and concentration in the human body, you may be surprised to learn that magnesium deficiency is quite common in the average person. In fact, it’s estimated that one-third to one-half of Canadians are deficient in this crucial mineral. Why?
- Nowadays, it is harder to get sufficient amounts of magnesium in your diet thanks to farming practices and dietary predispositions towards more processed foods.
- Furthermore, stress, aging, diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders like prolonged diarrhea may further deplete the body’s magnesium.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include constipation, difficulty sleeping, stress, heart issues (including high blood pressure) and poor memory.
Because there is such a small amount of magnesium in your blood, it is hard to detect magnesium deficiency in blood tests. Luckily it is very safe (and beneficial) to take magnesium supplements to prevent deficiency.
What Foods Contain Magnesium?
The best sources of dietary magnesium are dark leafy greens like spinach or kale, nuts, legumes and seeds. However, it is hard to get the magnesium your body needs from food alone. In fact, the National Institutes of Health estimate that we only absorb 30 to 40 percent of magnesium from food.
Whether you are looking for general or therapeutic benefits of magnesium, it will be virtually impossible to get enough from food alone. Hence why it’s important to supplement with quality magnesium.
Here are our top reasons to take magnesium:
Reason #1 – Stress Reduction
The symptoms of stress are almost identical to the symptoms of magnesium deficiency, including tiredness/fatigue, irritability, nervousness/anxiety, lack of energy or muscle weakness, upset stomach, muscle tension and headache. To make matters worse, you may be losing more magnesium due to stress. Did you know, that being chronically stressed is known to deplete your magnesium levels through urine? Paradoxically, when you’re stressed, you also NEED more magnesium. In addition, magnesium is known to activate GABA, one of the main calming neurotransmitters in the brain. Use magnesium when you’re stressed, or are experiencing symptoms of stress such as muscle pain, depression, and sleep issues.
- Type of Magnesium to Try: Magnesium bis-glycinate
- Magnesium Dose For Stress: 200-400 mg per day
Reason #2 – Heart Health
Magnesium helps to maintain a healthy heartbeat and blood pressure. Magnesium also helps to regulate two other nutrients crucial for heart health: potassium and calcium. Some observational studies have shown a correlation between low magnesium levels and increased heart disease, including: atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, and heart failure.
- Type of Magnesium to Try: Magnesium taurate or orotate
- Magnesium Dose For Heart Health: 250-750 mg per day
Reason #3 – Muscle Pain
Magnesium is great for alleviating the pain caused by muscle cramps, spasms, and tension. It’s also excellent in supporting muscle pain after an intense workout. Simply put, if you aren’t getting enough magnesium, your muscles can’t properly relax.
- Type of Magnesium to Try: Magnesium sulfate (also known as Epsom salts) dissolved in a warm bath
- Magnesium Dose For Muscle Pain: 1 cup
Reason #4 – Laxative
Magnesium is a natural laxative and is safer to use long-term than laxative herbs. Two types of magnesium, magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide, are considered osmotic laxatives because they act by drawing water into the colon to soften stool and clear constipation.
- Form of Magnesium to Try: Magnesium citrate or magnesium oxide
- Magnesium Dose For Laxative Support: 250 mg per day
Reason #5 – Memory
Magnesium deficiency is common and can lead to poor memory. Researchers believe that magnesium plays a role in regulating neurotransmitter activity, which is the process that transmits signals between nerve cells in the brain. Magnesium also helps your body make new proteins, which are used by neurons to grow and develop connections with other neurons. Some researchers have suggested that a lack of magnesium may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease as well because it impacts neurotransmission and protein formation. Interestingly, a recent study showed a reversal of brain aging at a higher dose of magnesium (1000 mg per day).
- Type of Magnesium to Try: Magnesium threonate
- Magnesium Dose for Memory: 250-750 mg daily
Reason #6 – High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major health issue in North America. In fact, high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart attack and stroke. When your arteries get too narrow or stiff, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through them. High blood pressure also puts more stress on your heart in general, which increases your risk for cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, magnesium can help lower both systolic (the top number) and diastolic (the bottom number) blood pressure readings.
- Type of Magnesium to Try: Magnesium bisglycinate or orotate
- Magnesium Dose for Blood Pressure: 250 mg per day
Reason #7 – Sleep
One of the most important benefits of magnesium is that it can help you get a better night’s sleep. A lack of sleep can cause a wide range of health problems and magnesium is a natural remedy for insomnia. Magnesium has been shown to reduce stress and muscle pain, both of which could cause insomnia.
- Type of Magnesium to Try: Magnesium bisglycinate or magnesium citrate
- Magnesium Dose For Sleep Support: 200 – 400 mg/day
There are volumes of scientific research that reinforce just how safe and beneficial magnesium supplements can be. Restoring your body’s magnesium levels can provide an incredible benefit to your life–with a difference that you actually feel.
While Magnesium is considered very safe, it is always a good idea to speak with your doctor before beginning any supplement regime. Especially if you are pregnant or nursing, have kidney disease or are taking any medications in the ACE inhibitor class.
You should speak with a qualified health practitioner or knowledgeable team member at a good health food store to assess the right form of magnesium in the right dose for YOU.
Which Magnesium Is Best?
There are a plethora of magnesium supplements available; finding one that is high-quality, clean and trusted is the most important.
- If you’re shopping for Magnesium Citrate,Natural Factors Magnesium Citrate is available in a 150mg potency and easy-to-swallow capsule. They use an active form of magnesium and formulate a clean, high-quality supplement that’s Canadian-made.
- For Magnesium Bisglycinate,CanPrev Magnesium Bisglycinate 200 Gentle is an effective, quality formula that offers enhanced absorption and provides 20% more elemental magnesium in this form.
- For those that don’t like to swallow capsules or that are looking for sleep support,Natural Calm Magnesium Powder is a fan favourite and is available in many flavours.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.