How important is Magnesium?
In short, magnesium is critically important to a healthy, happy body and mind. Here’s why. Magnesium is a metal; a mineral that is essential to our bodies. In this context, essential means that we require it but can’t make it on our own, so we need to get it from external sources.
It is essential (here’s that word again) to, literally, hundreds of biochemical processes. Things like:
- Balancing glucose (sugar) and hormonal activity
- Supporting neurotransmitter (dopamine, serotonin etc.), enzyme and mitochondrial (cell battery pack) protein needs
- Making DNA, RNA (copy of DNA), glutathione (antioxidant) and ATP (most basic form of gas for our bodies)
- Delivering other nutrients to their final destinations within the body such as calcium to the bones
All of these processes are pretty important, wouldn’t you agree? Remember when I said magnesium is essential to hundreds of processes? Yeah, you get the picture.
What happens when you are deficient?
When you are deficient in magnesium, bad things happen. It’s important to know that the effects of magnesium deficiency are cumulative, so not getting enough on a daily basis will compound both the severity and number of symptoms you may experience. Low magnesium is associated with the following symptoms and conditions.
- Loss of focus
- Poor memory
- Moodiness & some forms of Depression
- Muscle cramps
- Weak bones (transport mechanism for calcium)
- DNA damage
- Increased aging
- Cardiovascular conditions
While I realize that these symptoms can be related back to several causes, it’s worth pointing out that the evidence indicates the U.S. population is as much as 70% deficient in magnesium. As far as troubleshooting these symptoms, adding good sources of magnesium to your diet should be the first thing that you do.
Having optimal magnesium benefits us in a variety of ways.
- Has a calming effect
- Improves mood
- Significantly improves concentration and focus (helps with ADHD)
- Better memory (my experience short term memory has greatly improved)
- Supports muscle health
- Strengthens bones (transports calcium to the bones)
- Can lower cholesterol
A few years ago, I was taking three different medications for ADHD and moodiness. Now, I take none. Understanding my magnesium deficiency and correcting it played a huge role in me being healthier and ultimately being able to stop the medication. Read my article ‘Naturally stop using prescription drugs’ for the story on how I did it!
4 Crucial Things you want to know about Magnesium
#1 - Watch out for medications that deplete magnesium stores.
As you can imagined, most General Practitioners are not aware when a drug they prescribe impacts your micro-nutrients. You have to be an educated consumer! Asking your doctor how a new medication will impact your nutrition should be one of the first questions on your list!
Here are just a few examples of such medication. This list is far from being all inclusive!
- Proton uptake inhibitors
- HIV Meds
#2 - Know which foods contains magnesium and eat them!
One of the challenges with getting enough magnesium is that we typically don’t eat enough of the foods that contain it. For the most part, you will find magnesium in green leafy vegetables and a variety of nuts & seeds. Given that we need at, minimum, 300-400 mg per day, you can see how it would be difficult to eat enough of these foods to satisfy the minimum requirement.
#3 - You will almost assuredly need a magnesium supplement.
As mentioned, above, it is hard to get enough magnesium from food, so supplementing is a must. Having a good quality supplement is super important. Read my article Vitamin Supplements, What you need to know for information on how to select a high quality supplement.
I have experience with two brands of magnesium supplements. If you have a favorite supplement brand then I recommend you going with what you know. Vitamin supplements are not heavily regulated so, again, you have to be a smart consumer.
Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium is a good quality supplement. Because it is chelated, it is high absorption. It is good value as it is less expensive than many other brands. These come in 100 mg tablets so you can choose your dosage based on how much you think you are getting from food. This is the brand I started off taking and still recommend it for someone on a tight budget.
I have since graduated to Pure Encapsulations brand Magnesium Glycinate. What I like about this brand is they are very well known for their best in class quality. They are certified free from wheat, gluten, egg, peanuts, magnesium stearate, hydrogenated fat, artificial sweeteners and colors, and other unnecessary fillers.
Magnesium is unstable on it’s own so all supplements are bonded to another molecule. What it is paired with matters. Without getting into the intricacies of this process, this particular product is bound to glycinate. Glycine, itself, is a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation. So, in effect, combining these two enhances the natural calming properties of the magnesium.
Because of the extremely high quality of the Pure Encapsulations brand Magnesium Glycinate product, it costs a little more than the Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium but still reasonable, in my opinion.
#4 - My daily strategy for taking magnesium supplements.
I take a few supplements, daily, and this is one of them. I take one tablet in the morning as soon as I wake up, typically, between 7-8 AM. Then around 2 PM, I will take one or two more depending on my stress level. Because cortisol chews through magnesium, you will want to increase your dose if you are having an unusually stressful day.
Many people find it beneficial to take magnesium before bed as it works wonders with sleep quality. Since my stores are healthy, I don’t need to do this as often.
There you have it. I swear by magnesium. If I were stranded on a desert island and could only have one supplement, it would be this.
Take care and, as always, stay healthy!
*Remember to check with a healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, including the introduction of supplements.
**These claims have not be evaluated by the Food and Drug Association.