Magnesium is one of my favourite minerals because of the many different actions it does in the body. It is involved with 300+ essential reactions that happen daily in the human body. Magnesium is required at the cellular level to generate ATP – the energy that fuels our biochemical processes.
The action of magnesium is seen the most in:
- Development and maintenance of bones and teeth, including increasing the integrity of bone formations creating not only denser but strong bones
- Muscle relaxation of not just cramps and twitches but also the smooth muscle in your lungs, arteries and uterus so it can help with asthma, blood pressure and menstrual cramps.
- Calming of the nervous system to help us deal with stress, anxiety, fatigue and sleep. When chronically stressed our body uses up magnesium and we have problems with all of the above.
Multiple factors can cause you to have low levels of magnesium including:
- Prolonged stress
- Heavy menses
- Excessive sweating.
- Malabsorption from gastrointestinal diseases (IBS, Crohn’s, leaky gut)
- Kidney disease
- Excess processed sodium intake
As with all nutrients magnesium is best obtained through whole foods. Some of the highest sources of magnesium per serving are:
|Buckwheat flour||246 mg / 1 cup|
|Tofu||118 mg/ 1/2 cup|
|Dried figs||100 mg / 5 medium|
|Black eyed peas||98 mg / 1/4 cup|
|Swiss chard||96 mg / 1 cup|
|Almonds||96 mg / 1 cup|
|Halibut||78 mg / 3 oz.|
|Walnuts||60 mg / 1/4 cup|
|Acorn squash||53 mg / 1/2 cup|
|Millet||53 mg / 1Ž2 cup|
Supplemental magnesium is highly beneficial for many people and is usually very safe. Children and people on cardiac medications should take extra pre-cautions and consult with their health care providers before taking supplemental magnesium.
There are many different types of magnesium supplements, each one having a slightly different action.
Magnesium oxide: poorly absorbed and used to loosen stools
Magnesium sulfate: Used in IV treatments and easily absorbed through the skin. It is found in Epsom salts.
Magnesium citrate: The most commonly found magnesium with high bioavailability and mild stool loosening effect
Magnesium aspartate: Better bioavailability then citrate and shown in research to improve fatigue and muscle excitability.
Magnesium glycinate: One of the most popular magnesiums these days. Attached to glycine, a calming amino acid, it is beneficial for sleep, stress and has the biggest calming action of any magnesium.
Magnesium malate: Shown to improve fibromyalgia symptoms. Malate is a key part of cellular energy (ATP) production
Magnesium-L-theronate: One of the newer forms of magnesium with preliminary research showing benefits for memory and brain function.
I usually recommend a combination of citrate/malate/glycinate to patients. I have found very few people who wouldn’t benefit from the malate and glycinate forms as well as the cost effectiveness of the citrate.
- Marz (1999) Medical Nutrition from Marz. Portland, OR: Omni-Press
- Dean (2006) The Magnesium Miracle. New York, NY: Ballantine Books