Magnesium – The Workhorse Mineral

I should preface this post by commenting on the picture.  One of the most well known functions of Magnesium is to help with relaxation.  Nothing says relaxed like a sleeping cat (we have 3) and this one looks like a younger version of Widget so I just couldn’t help myself.  Now back to our regularly scheduled program 😉

Did you know that magnesium performs over 300 functions in your body? Did you know that most people in North America are deficient in magnesium? Did you know that about half of all magnesium is stored in cells of tissues and organs, 49% in bones and 1% in blood so blood tests tend to be quite unreliable? Did you know that magnesium works with calcium and that too much calcium without magnesium can result in painful joints or increased anxiety?

Signs of low magnesium include:

  • muscle spasms from feet to chest (heart muscle)
  • headaches
  • fatigued and weak
  • anxiety and edginess
  • loss of appetite
  • quick exhaustion during exercise
  • insomnia

Signs of long-term deficiency include:

  • heart arrhythmias and heart attack
  • depression
  • arthritis
  • kidney stones
  • fibromyalgia
  • inflammation
  • blood clots
  • inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome
  • seizures
  • numbness and tingling
  • stroke
  • osteoporosis
  • hypertension
  • high cholesterol
  • memory
  • heart disease, especially women

Magnesium’s roles include:

  • produces energy
  • build bones, cells and membranes
  • convert food into fuel
  • relax muscles
  • regulate body temperature
  • digest and utilize carbohydrates, fats and proteins
  • build RNA and synthesize DNA
  • filter toxins like mercury, aluminum and lead
  • produces glutathione – the master antioxidant
  • taxi ions like calcium and potassium across cell membranes
  • pivotal for nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction and heart rhythms
  • keeps cell function synchronized with day and night

Interaction with Hormones:

  • Thyroid function – converts T4 to T3 (more active)
  • Estrogen balance – magnesium, folic acid and glutathione and with Phase II detoxification where estrogen metabolites are made soluable so they can be excreted through urine and stool. If liver can’t detox properly, it contributes to estrogen dominance … weight gain, fluid retention, cancers of breast and ovaries.
  • Adrenaline and Cortisol – calming to hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This results in being calmer, less anxious, produces production of stress hormones.
  • Insulin sensitivity – stabilizes blood sugar and sometimes referred to as a natural metformin. If deficient in magnesium, you run the risk of impaired insulin and development of type 2 diabetes increases.
  • Production of steroid sex hormones – involved in pivotal processes that allow the body to produce estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
  • Manufacture of DHEA and human growth hormone is produced at night. Magnesium promotes better sleep quality and faster onset. Improved sleep allows body to produce hormones and repair cellular damage.
  • Produces seratonin – helps convert amino acid tryptophan into hormone seratonin. Seratonin makes melatonin needed for quality sleep. Magnesium helps regulate calcium ion flow in calcium channels in brain. When decreased neural issues may reduce brain function and trigger depression. Magnesium deficiency higher risk of depression. Improvement can be miraculous.

Causes of magnesium depletion:

  • Gut issues – chronic issues such as diarrhea or inflammatory bowel disease such as celiac or Crohn’s can interfere with your ability to absorb magnesium.
  • Stress – when constantly stressed, body dumps calming minerals like magnesium due to fight or flight reaction.
  • Soil depletion – over farming, use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers decreases magnesium levels in soil = lower levels in food = lower levels in body.
  • Food processing – polishing rice, turning whole grains into flour – loses around 60% of magnesium.
  • Low HCl (stomach acid).
  • Kidney issues – misuse of diuretics, under functioning kidneys and diabetes cause more magnesium in urine.
  • Medications – birth control pills, diuretics and antibiotics can leach magnesium.
  • Alcohol and fluoride leach magnesium out of your body

Magnesium rich foods include:

  • Seaweed
  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts
  • Nuts (Brazil nuts in particular contain plenty of selenium
  • Chocolate
  • Swiss chard
  • Buckwheat and millet
  • Fish
  • Brown rice
  • Lima beans
  • Okra
  • Banana

Forms of Magnesium Supplements:

  • Bisglycinate is the Ferrari of magnesium world. It is gut friendly, highly bioavailable, better tolerated and fewer side effects. This is the form to use if you are very deficient.
  • Citrate – paired with citric acid, it has a laxative effect. Magnesium Citrate is the “go to” form if you are chronically constipated or if you have thyroid issues. It helps eliminate oxalic acid from the body. It is good for maintaining magnesium levels but if you’re really low, please use the bisglycinate form.
  • Oxide is far less bioavailable. It is used to treat acid reflux and sour stomach and helps alleviate constipation.
  • Malate – paired with malic acid – improves blood glucose levels, amylase activity and overall calcium/magnesium levels. It helps relieve depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Taurate – elemental magnesium combined with the amino acid taurine. Taurine one of the most beneficial elements in helping promote longer lifespans. Magnesium taurate reduces heart attacks by up to 80%, balances electrolyte levels and promote healthy immune function. Taurine is capable of improving cognitive function and memory, reduce depression, vascular health neurodegenerative diseases and migraines.
  • Threonate- a nootropic, it helps to improve cognitive functions such as short-term memory and overall alertness. It is very promising for the treatment of Alzheimers. It is, however, synthetic and therefore patented and an expensive form of magnesium.

Side effects:

  • Some people experience diarrhea.
  • People with poor functioning kidneys may have trouble eliminate higher levels of magnesium but these people would be under the care of a medical practitioner and would receive direction from their doctor.
  • Too much may induce an “over relaxed” state.

Interaction with medications:

  • Antibiotics, antacids, insulin, diuretic and some hormone replacement therapies. The concern is more the potency rather than the efficacy of the drug.

In summary, benefits of Magnesium:

  • Improves thyroid function
  • Helps with estrogen balance
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Lowers adrenal and cortisol levels
  • Produces testosterone
  • Increases DHEA
  • Increases seratonin

As you can see from this information, chances are pretty good that you should be supplementing with magnesium.

If you have any questions about what form or what dosage you should be using, please consult a health care professional (including myself) for help.  You can reach me at sandy@steppingstoneswellnessinc.com.

Until next time, have a fabulous week!!!

Sandy O’Shea, CNP
Holistic Nutritionist

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