Magnesium: The Mineral You Need

Magnesium is essential in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the human body, many tied to sleep, energy, cognitive function, stress regulation, and heart health.  Deficiencies in this all-important mineral ultimately yield lower cellular energy states. This isn’t reflected simply as physical energy or fatigue, but a reduced ability to fight off infection, an increase in disease causing free radicals, inability to efficiently burn body fat, muscle firing problems (spasms – even in the heart), and inability to regulate your sympathetic nervous system (our stress response).

There are several factors that are pushing magnesium levels toward deficiency:

Reduced Dietary Levels: A recent study by the NIH (National Institute of Health) showed 68% of the American population was depleted in magnesium, while other experts put the number closer to 80%. This suggests that many of us are already at a cellular disadvantage. Unfortunately, the quality of our soil, and therefore food is not where it should be. While we may be getting the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for vitamins and minerals, we are not even close to getting the quantities we need for actual health and vitality.

The Ratio of Calcium to Magnesium: One way to reduce a mineral is to increase another mineral that competes with it, as is the case with Calcium and Magnesium. While calcium recommendations continue to rise, nothing is being said of the need for additional magnesium in order to spare calcium from osteoclastic (bone breakdown) activity. In a nut shell, excess calcium in magnesium deficient people, will further exacerbate the deficiency.

Fighting of Stress: both physical and emotional stress release stress hormones that require minerals for greater energy production and for improved skeletal and cardiac muscle performance. In excess, these stressors lead to magnesium depletion and can be implicated in cardiovascular disorders.

What are the Benefits of Supplementing with Magnesium?

Improved Sleep: As stated earlier, magnesium deficiency leads to an inability to regulate your sympathetic stress response. That means often we have a hard time “turning off” our muscles and brain, especially at night. Magnesium can have a relaxing effect on the nervous system allowing for an easier time falling asleep and actually staying asleep through the night.

Lose Weight and Build Muscle: Magnesium plays an important role in regulating hormones that control blood glucose levels. Poor blood sugar regulation will cause poor insulin sensitivity, lead to stored body fat and reduced carbohydrate metabolism. Increased magnesium will allow for greater utilization of carbohydrates for muscle repair from exercise as well as an increase in testosterone and faster muscle recovery. This yields greater fat loss and strength gains and will help prevent diabetes.

Improved Bone Health: Research studies point to the importance of a 1:1 calcium to magnesium ratio in addition to vitamin D and magnesium in bone health. While calcium is necessary for stronger bones, it does nothing without adequate levels of magnesium and vitamin D.

Improves Digestion and Regularity: As discussed in digestive health article, normal digestion involves 2-3 soft bowel movements a day. Magnesium deficiency causes constipation with the average person having a hard bowel movement once every 2-3 days. An increase in dietary fiber(high magnesium content) has been shown to increase transit time through the GI tract, thereby improving digestion as well as reducing disease risk within the colon.

The list goes on and on regarding the benefits of optimizing blood magnesium levels.

NOTE: The standard test used by medical doctors for magnesium measures serum magnesium in the blood, but only one percent of this mineral is found in the blood. Magnesium is found mainly in the bone and muscle tissue and therefore serum magnesium levels are not an effective way to measure. Instead, one should have their RBC (Red Blood Cell) Magnesium checked. If your doctor will not run the test or it’s too expensive, use: www.privatemdlabs.com

Optimal = 6.8 mg/dL

Minimum = 4.2 mg/dL

How to Replete Magnesium Levels

This can be complex as there are many different forms of magnesium and magnesium chelates (magnesium attached to chelates – more absorbable). Many store bought magnesium supplements use salts, which are not absorbed well, or retained in the tissues. Many will experience diarrhea from too much of these forms of magnesium, which can be beneficial for bowel regularity, but will not help with increasing magnesium stored in the tissue.

 

Here is how I suggest Magnesium at the present, depending on major complaints:

 

Hard Time Falling Asleep / Anxious / Can’t Shut off Brain

Zen Mag Px: 3-5 caps, 30min before bed

Multiple clients have referred to this supplement as their “go-to” for a great nights sleep. But be prepared for a swift kick in the face from the sleep doctor, as you may be completely worthless once it kicks in.

Topical Magnesium: 2-3 pumps behind knees, 30min before bed

This is a topical form of magnesium that can be rubbed on sore muscles and joints post-exercise as well as before bed. Great for muscle cramps at night and for weekend warriors.

 

Hard Time Staying Asleep / Wake-up in the Night Anxious

UberMag: 3-5 caps with the last 2 meals of the day

If you lift weights or do “cardio”, then you’d benefit from 2-4 caps post workout as well, as this form of magnesium is excellent at bringing down the stress hormone Cortisol. This will aid in faster muscle recovery and lean muscle gains.

Topical Magnesium: 2-3 pumps behind knees, 30min before bed

This is a topical form of magnesium that can be rubbed on sore muscles and joints post-exercise as well as before bed. Great for muscle cramps at night and for weekend warriors.

 

Either/Or: Lousy Sleep and Bowel Irregularity

UberMag: 3-5 caps with the last 2 meals of the day

If you lift weights or do “cardio”, then you’d benefit from 2-4 caps post workout as well, as this form of magnesium is excellent at bringing down the stress hormone Cortisol. This will aid in faster muscle recovery and lean muscle gains.

Natural Calm Powder: ¼-1 teaspoon before bed

I like this product because it’s relatively cheap way to help with sleep and bowel regularity. Start with the recommended dosage and titrate up  – you’ll know when you’ve had too much ;)

 

General Health / Weight Loss / Muscle Recovery

UberMag: 3-5 caps with the last 2 meals of the day

If you lift weights or do “cardio”, then you’d benefit from 2-4 caps post workout as well, as this form of magnesium is excellent at bringing down the stress hormone Cortisol. This will aid in faster muscle recovery and lean muscle gains.

 

Regardless of whether or not you choose to supplement with magnesium, please understand the relationship between healthy cellular function and adequate magnesium levels. Most important before any supplementation is to occur, have your RBC Magnesium levels tested and decide for yourself/with your doctor what the best course of action may be. Surely, for any number of the reason’s described above, you could benefit.

 

Stay tuned next month for what to look for in a quality multivitamin and why there’s more to detoxification than just lemon juice and cayenne pepper.

 

References:

http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/208/Magnesium_Deficiency_A_Growing_Health_Crisis.aspx

 

http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/669/MAGNESIUMThe_Anti-Stress_Mineral.aspx

 

http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/255/How_I_Replenish_Magnesium_Levels.aspx

 

http://www.tuesdayminute.net/magnesium-biotics_research.html