Magnesium is a mineral that is present in relatively large amounts in the body. Researchers estimate that the average person’s body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, and about half of that is in the bones. Magnesium is important in more than 300 chemical reactions that keep the body working properly including muscle function, heart rhythm, blood pressure, immune system functioning and blood sugar level.
Symptoms of deficiency can include constipation, fatigue, weakness, pain, spasm, tremor, cramping, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, depression, irritability, lethargy, and insomnia.
Magnesium has been linked to reduced incidence of common conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome in large peer-reviewed, long-term studies. Studies today focus on whether active magnesium supplementation may be one of the missing links to preventing these diseases, as well as several disorders affecting the brain, muscles and skin.
The U.S. Department of Health has placed magnesium on its short list of nutrients of concern, and many experts actually recommend increases to magnesium’s Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).
The good news is that magnesium supplementation is a safe and effective way for most people to ensure they are getting enough magnesium to stay healthy, before deficiencies arise.
Better sleep – The sleep regulating hormone melatonin is disturbed when magnesium is deficient. Furthermore, magnesium brings balance and controls stress hormones. Stress and tension are often reasons why people suffer from insomnia in the first place.
Relaxes the nervous system – Serotonin, which relaxes the nervous system and elevates mood, is dependent on magnesium.
Bigger, stronger muscles – Magnesium allows the body to produce more Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1), which is a major contributor to the growth and strength of muscles. Furthermore, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the cell’s energy store, and is created with help from magnesium.
Better flexibility – Magnesium loosens tight muscles. Without magnesium, muscles do not relax properly and cramps occur. Magnesium is important for flexibility, because low magnesium results in a buildup of lactic acid, causing pain and tightness.
Bone integrity and strength – Magnesium helps to fix calcium properly. It may blow some people’s mind that the calcium supplements they’re taking are not only useless, but are actually contributing to osteoporosis! There are actually about eighteen essential nutrients that contribute to bone health; magnesium is definitely one of the most essential, because it stimulates a particular hormone called calcitonin. And, it also suppresses a hormone called parathyroid that breaks down bone.
Remineralizes teeth – Magnesium deficiency causes an unhealthy balance of phosphorous and calcium in saliva, which damages teeth.
Alkalizes the body – Magnesium helps return the body’s pH balance. Magnesium reduces lactic acid, which is partly responsible for post-exercise pain (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
Hydrates – Magnesium is a necessary electrolyte essential for proper hydration.
Helps to relieve constipation – Magnesium can be used to cleanse the bowels of toxins.
Enzyme function – Enzymes are protein molecules that stimulate every chemical reaction in the body. Magnesium is required to make hundreds of these enzymes work and assists with thousands of others.
Diabetes – Magnesium enhances insulin secretion, which facilitates sugar metabolism. Without magnesium, glucose is not able to transfer into cells. Glucose and insulin build up in the blood, causing various types of tissue damage, including the nerves in the eyes.
Over the past few years I have come to learn that many of the chronic issues people are dealing with, start due to a magnesium deficiency. If your vitamin D is low, if you have bone health issues such as osteoporosis, if you have chronic migraines or high blood pressure, and so many more are related to your poor magnesium stores! If we focus on optimizing this ONE mineral so many other conditions improve! That is why I encourage my clients to all start with magnesium!
Traditionally, magnesium comes from our food. Foods such as dark leafy greens (such as kale and spinach), pumpkin seeds, almonds, mackerel fish, beans, whole grains, dried fruit, avocados, and dark chocolate have been traditionally high in magnesium. The problem today is our modern farming practices. Through the heavy use of chemicals and over-cultivation modern agriculture has stripped our soil of the essential biological and organic interactions that allow plants to uptake the magnesium they need. As the soils become more depleted of this biological interaction our food continues to become more lacking in the essential magnesium element. Magnesium is also used up by the body in excess when we consume alcohol, iodized salt, phosphoric acid (in soda) and coffee. It is also lost during heavy sweating and during periods of intense or prolonged stress and during heavy menstruation.
Prescription medications and diuretics can also strip the body of magnesium because they are acidic and antagonistic chemistry. Some medications which can lead to magnesium deficiencies are certain antibiotics, estrogen from birth control and hormone therapy pills, corticosteroids, diuretics, certain heart medications, some “anti”-cancer and immunosuppressant drugs, chemotherapy, some asthma medications, some “anti”-psychotic and “anti”-schizophrenic drugs.
This is especially problematic in that the diseases they are meant to be treating are most often caused by a deficiency which they are further exacerbating.
On your routine yearly blood work your doctor will order a serum magnesium level. This is a very common practice but a very POOR way to determine magnesium status. It is very rare that this number will be low. What we really need to be looking at is your magnesium stores in the body to determine if you are deficient or not. So next time you go to the doctor specifically ask them to run a magnesium red blood cell lab, or Mag RBC.
Aim for 6.5-7 for optimal health.
Magnesium RBC is the “gold standard” blood test to evaluate a magnesium deficiency. The RBC blood test is used to measure the level of magnesium found in the red blood cells floating in the blood serum. The RBC blood test is more sensitive to magnesium deficiencies than a standard magnesium blood test. When the body becomes magnesium deficient, it pulls the magnesium that is stored in red blood cells out of those cells and into the serum of the blood. A standard blood test, therefore, may show magnesium levels as normal even though the red blood cell’s stores of magnesium are depleted. Magnesium is crucially important for bone and muscle health. Early detection and treatment of a magnesium deficiency helps to prevent the development of more chronic problems.
You can order this lab yourself for under $50 using this link: Magnesium RBC
As stated above optimal levels of Mag RBC are 6.5-7. If your levels are below that, you should consider the supplement options below and then retest in a few months. If your levels are normal then you should continue your current supplement plan and retest in a few months. Magnesium has a very high burn rate and understanding how fast your body burns magnesium can help you determine what your daily/weekly magnesium supplementation will look like! More on this below!
Magnesium is an all natural, healthy way to treat constipation on a regular basis. Products like laxatives, stool softeners and Miralax can be very damaging to a healthy gut if used daily. Certain forms of magnesium increases water in your intestines which help initiate peristalsis (the wavelike motion which moves fecal matter through your intestines). Peristalsis also pushes food into your stomach.
The laxative effect of magnesium appears to come through two different mechanisms:
Since your intestines will be absorbing this excess water from your body it is very important to drink plenty of water after taking magnesium. This will keep you from becoming dehydrated.
Magnesium should be taken daily as needed to treat AND prevent constipation. Daily dose will vary depending on the body’s current needs. One day you may need 500-600mg and the next you may need 1200mg. Adjust your dose according to your bowel movements. If your stool is hard and you are feeling constipated increase dose, if your stool is loose and you have diarrhea decrease your dose.
If constipation is an issue for you we recommend using this product as needed, Oxy-powder. I personally use this product as needed for constipation IN ADDITION to the soak and other products.
For more health and weight loss tips like this, join our weekly LEAN newsletter today.
Why magnesium oxide instead of citrate for constipation? I’ve always been told never take oxide.