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Magnesium is a mineral responsible for over 600 biochemical functions in the body. Is your mind blown yet? Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is very common in the US and affects about 50% of adults. This is especially true for those with leaky gut or autoimmunity. Given the prevalence of magnesium deficiency, it’s important to know the best form of magnesium supplementation, as there are many different forms available.
Magnesium is known as a master mineral because it is involved in so many bodily functions. Some of the most common functions of magnesium include:
Constipation often signals a deficiency in magnesium, highlighting its pivotal role in digestive processes. Elevating magnesium intake is a prudent approach, as this mineral orchestrates muscle contractions crucial for propelling food through the digestive tract. By ensuring smooth coordination of these contractions, magnesium promotes regular and efficient bowel movements, addressing the discomfort associated with constipation. Moreover, magnesium’s involvement in activating digestive enzymes enhances nutrient absorption in the intestines, contributing to the overall efficiency of the digestive system.
Beyond its immediate impact, magnesium plays a crucial role in fortifying the gut lining over time. This lining acts as a protective barrier, preventing the leakage of harmful substances into the bloodstream and thus causing inflammatory responses. By supporting the integrity of the gut barrier, magnesium becomes a key player in maintaining a resilient defense against gut-related issues. Prioritizing magnesium-rich foods or supplements not only addresses immediate concerns like constipation but also fosters a proactive approach to long-term digestive well-being and optimal gut health.
Magnesium plays a key role in promoting better sleep. In fact, when someone experiences insomnia, it could be a sign of not getting enough magnesium. Research consistently shows that taking magnesium supplements can actually improve the quality of sleep.
The science behind this connection lies in magnesium’s influence on neurotransmitters and its regulation of melatonin—the hormone responsible for signaling our bodies that it’s time to sleep. While magnesium allows our muscles to enter into a relaxed state, magnesium also creates a neurological environment conducive to rest. The next time you hear someone talk about magnesium improving sleep, you can know its not a myth! It’s backed by solid research. If you’re struggling with sleep, considering magnesium supplementation might be a practical step to enhance your sleep quality, supported by the straightforward science of how magnesium impacts our sleep patterns.
Magnesium is like a key player in the energy production happening inside our cells. It helps enzymes, which are like tiny workers, release energy from our cell’s fuel, ATP. This process is crucial for keeping our cells running smoothly.
Beyond that, magnesium also helps in turning our food into energy, ensuring our cells have the power they need. When magnesium levels are low, it’s like having a missing team member, and this can leave us feeling tired. So, making sure we get enough magnesium is like ensuring our cellular energy team is at full strength, keeping us feeling vibrant and energized.
Dealing with muscle cramps or twitches? Magnesium steps in to help. It regulates muscle contractions, preventing and easing cramps, spasms, or twitches. Plus, it aids in muscle recovery after a workout, making sure your muscles bounce back faster.
The science behind it? Magnesium supports the intricate dance between nerve signals and muscle movements, ensuring everything runs smoothly for optimal muscle function. So, if you’re bothered by muscle discomfort or want your workouts to be more effective, having enough magnesium in your system is a smart move for overall muscle health.
Struggling with headaches or migraines is a super common issue in our world today. Magnesium is an amazing natural ally in providing relief to these symptoms. Let’s break it down. Magnesium plays a crucial role in regulating neurotransmitters and blood vessel constriction, both of which are key factors in headache and migraine development.
As a natural calcium blocker, magnesium helps relax blood vessels, preventing the excessive narrowing that can trigger migraines. Additionally, magnesium participates in neurotransmitter regulation, influencing pain perception and potentially reducing the intensity and frequency of headaches. Ensuring an adequate intake of magnesium, either through diet or supplements, aligns with a scientific approach to supporting neurological and vascular functions, offering a really easy and healthy strategy for those seeking relief from recurrent headaches or migraines.
Magnesium plays a crucial role in supporting your brain. It acts as a protective shield, defending your brain from damage and helping it function in a more prime state. Magnesium is a game changer for the enzymes that create neurotransmitters in your brain, which thereby improves learning and memory processes. Additionally, magnesium fights inflammation and shields against damage that can affect your brain’s health.
In specific conditions like migraines, depression, and anxiety, studies highlight magnesium’s remarkable impact. It helps calm nerve activity, reducing the intensity and frequency of migraines. Moreover, magnesium aids in balancing mood by regulating neurotransmitters, offering a promising avenue for addressing symptoms of depression and anxiety. So, ensuring an adequate magnesium intake, whether through your diet or supplements, is like giving the brain the support it needs to navigate through these neurological challenges and promote overall well-being.
Calcium, a mineral renowned for its importance in maintaining strong bones, has a lesser-known partner in the realm of bone health—magnesium. While it’s common knowledge that calcium is a cornerstone of bone structure, it might come as a surprise that calcium cannot be fully absorbed without the assistance of magnesium. This interdependence stems from the fact that magnesium plays a crucial role in facilitating calcium absorption within the intestines. Without sufficient magnesium, the body struggles to effectively uptake calcium, potentially leading to weakened bones that are more susceptible to fractures and conditions like osteoporosis.
Magnesium’s influence on bone health extends beyond calcium absorption. It also acts as a catalyst in the conversion of vitamin D into its active form, known as calcitriol, which is pivotal for maintaining proper calcium levels in the bloodstream and promoting calcium’s incorporation into the bones. This dynamic relationship highlights magnesium’s multifaceted role in preserving bone integrity.
T cells are a vital part of our immune system, and they need magnesium to work properly in fighting off infections. It does this by activating T cells to perform their essential tasks like recognizing and destroying infected or abnormal cells within the body. Without enough magnesium, the immune system may not defend the body as effectively against diseases.
Magnesium also plays a vital role in immune system modulation. This capability is particularly valuable in addressing autoimmune conditions, where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues. Magnesium’s ability to regulate the immune system’s responses can help mitigate autoimmune reactions, offering relief to those affected by such conditions. Magnesium is a pivotal element in bolstering our immune defenses and promoting immune balance.
Magnesium is a key player in regulating insulin and glucose levels, ensuring balanced blood sugar. This balance is particularly crucial for individuals with diabetes, as magnesium helps mitigate insulin resistance, maintaining stable blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of spikes and crashes. Interestingly, magnesium can also benefit those without diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity, promoting more efficient glucose utilization. Even beyond diabetes, stable blood sugar levels are vital for individuals dealing with autoimmune conditions, as fluctuations can trigger inflammation and immune responses.
Over 80% of the population doesn’t get the minimum amount and types of magnesium they need from diet alone. Magnesium is also depleted easily due to reasons such as:
While there are several symptoms that point to magnesium deficiency, many of them overlap with other disorders and deficiencies, making it hard to diagnose a magnesium deficiency through symptom analysis alone. Hence, my rule of thumb is to always test, don’t guess. In my practice, we use functional medicine micronutrient analysis to determine levels of magnesium and other nutrients. This is the most accurate way to identify any possible deficiencies.
That said, these are common signs of magnesium deficiency:
When magnesium levels and intake is too high, we can see diarrhea or loose stools. To test your nutrient levels, learn more about micronutrient analysis testing, here!
If you suspect you’re deficient in magnesium, a food first approach can be very effective. There are many whole food sources that provide a hefty dose of magnesium. I always take a food first approach because whole food is medicine, and oftentimes, can correct nutrient deficiencies without supplementation.
Include more of these magnesium-rich foods in your diet to improve magnesium levels:
For help including more magnesium (and other essential nutrients in your diet), consider signing up for my Meal Plan & Recipe Database. This database is packed with gut healthy nutrient-dense foods and will help you meet your nutrient needs through diet alone.
There are several different forms of magnesium and each plays a different role in the body. For this reason, it’s important to know which is the best form of magnesium and those that might fit you best.
Note: Not all magnesium supplements are created equal. Quality matters! I always recommend choosing supplements that are tested for heavy metals and free from fillers, as heavy metals and fillers can trigger autoimmune flare ups and digestive issues.
These are the best forms of magnesium for supplementation:
Magnesium citrate supports metabolic health and is a gentle form of magnesium that has a laxative effect. One study even found that this form may improve blood vessel health in healthy overweight individuals.This form of magnesium is beneficial for relieving constipation and regulating the digestive system. It can also help improve migraines.
Magnesium glycinate is easily absorbed by the body and also offers a calming effect, making it helpful in easing anxiety, relaxing muscles, and improving sleep.
Magnesium bisglycinate Is the best form of magnesium for muscle and overall relaxation responses. This form of magnesium is well known for helping to prevent and stop muscle cramps.
Magnesium chelate is most commonly found in food sources and is easily absorbed by the body. This form of magnesium is especially important for muscle building, recovery, and overall health. Find magnesium chelate in leafy, green veggies and sprouted, raw nuts.
Magnesium Sucrosomial is very well absorbed. It helps you to effectively produce energy. It also supports the immune system and bone health.
Magnesium oxide, similar to citrate, offers a laxative effect. However, magnesium oxide typically has a stronger, more intense effect on the body. For this reason, it can cause bloating and digestive discomfort, making it not a great option for those with GI issues.
Magnesium threonate can easily cross the blood brain barrier, which makes it the best form of magnesium to improve anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline. This form of magnesium is also best for your heart. One study noted: “The complex magnesium taurate may thus have considerable potential as a vascular-protective nutritional supplement.”
Magnesium orotate is also helpful for the heart and believed to be the best form for metabolic improvements. This makes it a favorite for athletes seeking enhanced recovery, energy, and performance.
Magnesium malate combines magnesium and malic acid to aid in the production of energy. This can be especially helpful for those who struggle with daily fatigue. Some believe this to be the most bioavailable form of magnesium. It’s found naturally in fruits, giving them a “tart taste.”
Magnesium supplementation is available in many shapes and forms, other than capsules and powders. In fact, magnesium is best absorbed through the skin. So, magnesium salts, oils, and lotions are a great alternative. It is especially helpful for those who have digestive issues, as skin absorption bypasses the digestive system.
When it comes to magnesium supplementation, not all are created equally. Since there are many forms of magnesium, it is best to get a combination of forms that will work best for your body and unique chemistry.
There are times when magnesium supplementation is recommended, such as during times of high stress. This is because stress can cause you to excrete more magnesium through urine. Therefore, magnesium supplementation has been shown to promote a healthy stress response and neurotransmitter balance. It also promotes relaxation by increasing GABA, which is a calming neurotransmitter.
In addition, magnesium supplementation has been shown to help support mental health in women with premenstrual syndrome.
BIOptimizers Magnesium Breakthrough is my go to favorite magnesium option and is the only supplement on the market that offers the full spectrum of all seven types of magnesium specially formulated to reach every tissue in your body to provide maximum health benefits and reverses low levels which could be causing health issues.
It also combines the best 7 forms of magnesium in a fulvic/humic acid monoatomic blend, which naturally contains other minerals to aid in the absorption of magnesium. It also includes vitamin B6. This also contributes to the effectiveness of magnesium since it will be more bioavailable. For these reasons, this particular magnesium supplement is the most complete version you can find to my knowledge.
As always, consult with your practitioner to find the dosage that is appropriate for you, especially when taking magnesium for sleep, relaxation, constipation, and digestion.
Good Night Lotion is a unique magnesium lotion that offers a super convenient way to enhance your magnesium intake. Unlike many magnesium supplements that can lead to cramping or itchiness, this lotion blends pure magnesium chloride with nourishing oils and butters to not only ensure quick absorption but also moisturize your skin, leaving it healthy and hydrated. Formulated by an experienced herbalist and mother of six, Good Night Lotion is safe for the whole family, crafted with clean ingredients such as apricot oil, mango butter, and plant-based candelilla wax. The best part? This product is completely free from parabens, phthalates, fragrance, preservatives, allergens, or any unwanted additives. Use code “NIKKIYELTONRD” to get 10% off!
Mag Glycinate by Metagenics is a top-notch magnesium supplement designed for a hassle-free experience. Unlike some magnesium options, it doesn’t require a super acidic stomach to work effectively, making it gentle on your digestion. It’s great at promoting muscle relaxation and supporting your nervous system, helping you feel your best. Whether you’re aiming for relaxation or digestive comfort, Mag Glycinate is a straightforward choice for reaping the benefits of magnesium with ease.
Mag Citrate™ is a well-balanced fusion of magnesium citrate and calcium citrate, offering essential nutritional support for robust muscle function. Magnesium, a component of this blend, serves as a cofactor in numerous enzymatic reactions throughout the body, contributing to the efficient operation of various biochemical processes.
Magnesium also plays a critical part in bolstering bone health, ensuring that the skeletal system remains resilient and capable of withstanding the demands of everyday life. This combination of magnesium and calcium citrate is a perfect win-win for bone health while supporting the rest of your body’s functions.
Reacted Magnesium is an advanced magnesium supplement that stands out by offering three distinct forms of highly absorbable magnesium: di-magnesium malate, magnesium citrate, and magnesium glycinate. This unique combination optimizes magnesium absorption through multiple pathways, ensuring maximum utilization of this essential mineral. What sets Reacted Magnesium apart is its commitment to gastrointestinal comfort, unlike many other magnesium supplements that can cause digestive discomfort. By providing enhanced absorption without compromising digestive well-being, Reacted Magnesium enables you to restore magnesium levels effectively, supporting overall health with ease and confidence.
Intake recommendations for magnesium and other nutrients are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (formerly National Academy of Sciences).
These values, which vary by age and sex, include the following:
The best way to know exactly how much magnesium you need is through lab testing. There are two ways to best test magnesium levels. The first is using the Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) and the second is a micronutrient analysis looking at red blood cell magnesium through a blood test.
The HTMA (Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis) Test serves as a unique picture into your well-being, delving into mineral patterns within your cells and revealing invaluable insights into your body’s functions over the past three months. This comprehensive analysis not only unveils minerals that may have been depleted due to excessive levels but also evaluates the removal of heavy metals from your system. Furthermore, the HTMA test delves beneath the surface, offering a glimpse into your stress levels and the phase of stress you might be going through. By scrutinizing various mineral ratios, it facilitates an intricate assessment of how different systems within your body are operating, making this test a really powerful instrument to obtain a good perspective of your overall health and wellness.
Utilizing red blood cell testing for magnesium represents the gold standard in assessing mineral levels within the body. This method provides a comprehensive view, delving into both intracellular and extracellular fluid, offering a really unique insight into your mineral status. What sets it apart is its ability to gauge mineral status over the past six months, on average, providing a valuable longitudinal perspective. Furthermore, this approach extends beyond testing for magnesium, to examine a diverse range of vitamins and minerals within your body. This comprehensive analysis also sheds light on other vital markers linked to stress, digestion, blood sugar regulation, thyroid hormones, and the nervous system, offering a holistic view of your overall health.
Magnesium holds so much potential to help you unlock the next step of a healthier and more vibrant life. By incorporating magnesium-rich foods into your daily diet and selecting a suitable supplement, you’re taking proactive steps to fortify your body. Magnesium’s role in promoting digestion, energy, muscle function, brain health, and more is a testament to its incredible potential to enhance your overall vitality. Embrace magnesium as a staple in the pursuit of a healthier and happier life – you will be so thankful you did!
As previously mentioned, testing for any nutrient deficiencies and imbalances is an important first step. My personalized program, Microbiome Makeover, includes in-depth functional testing to identify deficiencies, gut infections, food intolerances, and more. In the case of magnesium deficiencies, this program can be a game changer because as we now know, magnesium is essential for so many daily physiological functions.
Do you take a magnesium supplement? Let me know in the comments how it has helped you!
"When it comes to balancing our body, healing the gut, reversing autoimmunity, and achieving optimal health—we are a lot like a car that won’t run right. In order to fix the problem once and for all instead of relying on jumper cables, we must get underneath the hood, run the diagnostics, and replace the battery so that it runs good as new."
-Nikki Yelton, RD
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