Of all the essential vitamins and minerals, magnesium is both one of the most important and one that most Americans are deficient in. We rely on magnesium for over 300 reactions in our bodies. Nerve function, even in the tiny synapses of the brain, muscle contraction, enzyme processes, acid/base balance, sugar metabolism, and bone strength are all governed by magnesium.
Bottom line, it’s kind of a big deal.
So what do you need to know about magnesium? Humans must obtain this essential mineral from outside sources. The best sources include green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains and milk. If your diet is high in these foods, your magnesium levels should be sufficient, although absorption problems are possible. If you are like most Westerners, your diet alone is not adequate and this is worsened because the magnesium level in the soil has been depleted, causing the plants themselves to have a lower mineral content than in the past. Yikes! This is why it is best to get your vegetables from your own garden, a local small garden, or an organic farm.
The Daily Reference Intakes by the National Academy of Sciences states that men should aim for 420mg and women should get 320mg (reference age 31-50).
My personal experience of magnesium deficiency lead me to the chiropractor complaining of nearly constant muscle spasms in my back. It was uncomfortable and annoying. He suggested taking magnesium, and within 2 months the spasms left and have not returned since. Hallelujah! This experience lead me to research the mineral and add it to my daily supplement stack.
How do you know if you are deficient? I highly recommend a blood test from your doctor to determine the exact level and your ratio of calcium to magnesium. You do not want to be blindly taking a magnesium supplement if your current level is adequate. There are many different magnesium supplements available and they are not expensive. Your doctor most likely has a recommendation. You can do a simple google search to learn about each type of magnesium. Do be aware that taking too many magnesium supplements has a laxative effect. For example, magnesium oxide is one of the fastest on the bowels. If you have a slower digestive tract, this may be helpful. If your bowels are already fast and loose like a Vegas showgirl, then magnesium glycinate, citrate, gluconate or chloride may be a better option. Sorry to disgust, but I want you to be aware of the consequence of an overdose.
Here is a link to my favorite magnesium resource- a video by Dr. Osbourne that goes into detail about causes, symptoms and consequences of magnesium deficiency. He makes an interesting connection between magnesium deficiency and psychological disorders. It absolutely worth 10 minutes of your time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wtUn1gWgaw
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist. I do not aim to diagnose or treat any disease or deficiency. This personal blog is for entertainment and educational purposes only. Always consult your primary healthcare provider when making a supplement change.