When it comes to minerals, there is one clear cut superstar, magnesium! Magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions in the body.
Magnesium plays a major role in:
- Bone Development and Maintenance
- Blood Sugar Control
- Heart Rhythms
- Muscle Contractions
- Blood Pressure Regulation
- Regulating Stress Hormones
50-60% of the body’s stores of magnesium are present in the bones, with the remainder being found in the soft tissue. This makes levels difficult to assess via a blood test. How do you know if you are low in magnesium?
10 Signs You Could Have A Magnesium Deficiency
- Under A Lot of Stress- This is a double edged sword, as stress causes magnesium deficiency and being deficient in magnesium amplifies the body’s stress response.
- Anxiety and Insomnia-The nervous system needs adequate amounts of magnesium to function properly.
- Muscle Cramps/Spasms/Pain and Eye Twitches- Magnesium is required for muscle relaxation.
- More than 7 Alcoholic Beverages/Week- Alcohol increases magnesium excretion by the kidneys.
- Taking Calcium Supplements Without Magnesium or Without Magnesium in a 1:1 Ratio- When magnesium levels are low calcium supplementation may further lower magnesium. Magnesium helps calcium to get absorbed into the bones and helps prevent excess calcium from forming plaques in the arteries.
- Chocolate Cravings- It’s not just the sugar your body is craving, it’s the magnesium
- Taking a Diuretic, Heart Medication, Asthma Medication, Birth Control Pills, or Estrogen Replacement Therapy- These types of drugs increase magnesium excretion by the kidneys.
- Drinking Coffee or Tea Daily- The caffeine in coffee and tea causes the kidneys to excrete more magnesium.
- Regularly Eating Desserts, Candies and Other Sweets- Refined sugar also increases the body’s excretion of magnesium.
- Drinking Carbonated Beverages Regularly- Phosphates in carbonated beverages bind with magnesium in the digestive track making it not able to be absorbed by the body.
Foods That Are High In Magnesium
- Pumpkin Seeds- 1/4 cup provides 48% of daily needs.
- Spinach- 1 cup provides 39% of daily needs.
- Swiss Chard- 1 cup provides 38% of daily needs.
- Sesame Seeds- 1/4 cup provides 32% of daily needs.
- Cashews- ¼ cup provides 29% of daily needs
In my practice, I see many patients that benefit from magnesium supplementation. I routinely use magnesium to help treat
- Tight Muscles
- Hormonal Imbalances
Magnesium has minimal side effects. The one major side effect to look out for is loose stools. If someone is getting lose stools, it means that they are taking too high of a magnesium dose. I generally recommend starting with 200 mg of magnesium bisglycinate before bed and increasing to 800 mg over a few days, as long as stools have not become too loose.
For people experiencing constipation, I recommend they take magnesium citrate as it is even more likely to cause loose stools.
Another way to get magnesium into the body, and to practice some vital self-care, is by taking Epsom Salt baths. Epsom Salts are magnesium sulphate and they are quite effective at reducing muscle and joint pain. To get the full effect from the bath, add 1-2 cups of Epsom Salts to the bath and soak for at least 20 min.
Magnesium is generally well tolerated, and has a low risk of interaction, but you should talk to your health care provider before taking it if you are taking and medications
Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To book your appointment, click here.