MAGNESIUM: HERO OR HYPE?

DO YOU SUFFER:
• Stress; anxiety, nervousness?
• Muscle cramps, spasms or tension?
• Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
• Fatigue and low energy?
• Irregular heartbeat?
• Headaches
• Difficulty sleeping
• Low bone density
• Premenstrual syndrome
• Low appetite?
These can be early signs that you are magnesium deficient!
WHY IS MAGNESIUM SO IMPORTANT?
Magnesium is a mineral that is an important part of many essential bodily processes. It is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions. Its importance for maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, health rhythm and cell energy production is most notable. However, it is essential for healthy blood sugar balance, normalising blood pressure, calcium metabolism and healthy bone, good blood circulation as well as dealing with stress effectively.
DEFICIENCY
In 1991, a study on the Australian population by the CSIRO1 found that 50% of males and 39% of females tested were deficient in magnesium. This shows the trend, that in this modern world, most people living in developed countries tend to eat more than we require, macronutrient (fats, carbohydrates and proteins) wise. However, many are still nutrient deficient. Not to the level of deficiency diseases such as rickets, but below optimal levels required to experience optimal health and wellbeing. If we lack the correct ratios of associated nutrients and cofactors that allow micronutrients to be effectively absorbed, as well as their ability to be used in the body (bioavailable) and ability to perform in the body (bioactive) our levels will be insufficient, even if eating enough of a few specific nutrients.
WE NEED DAILY INTAKE
Magnesium is excreted by the kidneys in urine, every day, therefore we need to ensure we have adequate intake daily.
AMOUNTS NEEDED VARY AND ARE INDIVIDUAL
While Magnesium is found in many foods (see the list below), especially green vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes and even chocolate, we can often still be deficient for two reasons. First, even if we eat our vegetables, the amount in food varies and depends on the soil. Secondly, our requirements for Magnesium increase when we are under stress, especially chronic stress; drinking multiple cups of tea and/or coffee daily; or have exercised, especially a strenuous or long workout.
ARE YOU DEFICIENT?
Because no one type of magnesium level test is particularly accurate, a combination of lab tests and clinical assessment is best to determine if supplementation is useful. If you suffer any or a combination of the above symptoms on a regular basis, you may benefit from supplementation.
WHAT TYPE DO I TAKE?
There are many forms of magnesium supplement, and each has its place.
TOPICALLY
The skin can be a great way to absorb magnesium. This form of supplementation may be best for those who have trouble digesting or holding minerals, such as those with adrenal fatigue or low stomach acid.
MAGNESIUM SUPLHATE
Epsom salts (or magnesium sulphate) in the bath can be great for relaxation and reducing muscle cramps and aches. In addition, it can also help draw out toxins via your pores.
By The Way, this can also be used orally as a laxative, but it is easy to overdo, potentially causing uncomfortable toilet related accidents.
MAGNESIUM CHLORIDE
For muscle aches and pains, magnesium oil or lotion (magnesium chloride) can be fantastic. This form can also be useful for soothing eczema and dermatitis!
Just a note, you may find magnesium oil makes your skin tingle, generally this reduces as your magnesium stored improve, but you can always wash it off as soon as it dries, to reduce the sensation.
ORALLY
When supplementing orally, you may need to experiment to determine the type and dose that suits you best. This is individual and a dose that is too high for you, may cause abdominal upset, diarrhoea and, maybe worse. So take care, and it may be best to seek medical assistance.
MAGNESIUM MALATE
Magnesium malate can help relax tense areas and relieve muscle pain as well as helping cells to make and use energy. May be the best form for fibromyalgia sufferers. Good to take in morning.
MAGNESIUM THREONATE
Magnesium Threonate may be great to support learning, memory formation and protect against cognitive decline.
MAGNESIUM OXIDE
Magnesium oxide is great to support movement through your digestion. So, if you are not emptying your bowels at least daily, small regular doses of this can be beneficial. It is important to note that you are not supporting body magnesium levels and toileting habits as the magnesium is also expelled.
MAGNESIUM CITRATE
Magnesium citrate is more absorbable that magnesium oxide, but it can also loosen your bowels, so take care. This form is good for relaxing muscles and the mind.
MAGNESIUM GLYCINATE
Magnesium glycinate is a more absorbable form, quick to raise magnesium levels and less likely to great diarrhoea. The amino acid glycine that it is bound to also supports better sleep.
So, now I hope it is clear that magnesium is an important mineral and supplementation is often necessary. Finding the right version and dose for you may take a little time, but it is well worth it. The best one, is the one that works for your body. You can always get magnesium from your food, but remember the content varies and supplementation is inexpensive.

Table 1: Selected Food Sources of Magnesium [2]

Food                                              Milligrams (mg) per serving        Percent DV*
Almonds, dry roasted,1 ounce                                       80                    20
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup                                                  78                     20
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce                                      74                     19
Peanuts, oil roasted, ¼ cup                                           63                     16
Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits                       61                     15
Soymilk, plain or vanilla, 1 cup                                     61                     15
Black beans, cooked, ½ cup                                           60                     15
Edamame, shelled, cooked, ½ cup                                 50                     13
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons                           49                     12
Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices                                         46                      12
Avocado, cubed, 1 cup                                                   44                      11
Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces                               43                      11
Rice, brown, cooked, ½ cup                                            42                      11
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces                                     42                      11
Breakfast cereals, fortified with magnesium                  40                      10
Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet                                            36                       9
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup                                         35                      9
Banana, 1 medium                                                         32                      8
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces                  26                      7
Milk, 1 cup                                                                  24-27                  6–7
Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces                                              24                      6
Raisins, ½ cup                                                                23                      6
Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces                                  22                      6
Beef, ground, 90% lean, pan broiled, 3 ounces              20                      5
Broccoli, chopped and cooked, ½ cup                            12                      3
Rice, white, cooked, ½ cup                                             10                      3
Apple, 1 medium                                                             9                       2
Carrot, raw, 1 medium                                                     7                       2

*DV = Daily Value. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developed DVs to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for magnesium used for the values in Table 2 is 400 mg for adults and children age 4 years and older [11]. This DV, however, is changing to 420 mg as the updated Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels are implemented [12]. The updated labels must appear on food products and dietary supplements beginning in January 2020, but they can be used now [13]. FDA does not require food labels to list magnesium content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient, but foods providing lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.

References:

1. Journal of Nutrition Research, 1991. Baghurst, K.I.; Dreosti, I.E.; Syrette, J.A.; Record, S.J.; Baghurst, P.A.; Buckley, R.A. Zinc and magnesium status of Australian adults; Volume 11; pgs 23-32

2.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 2019. Food database. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/. Accessed 18/10/2019