What Is Magnesium All About?
There is so much discussion about Magnesium these days. If you walk into almost any store, you will find a shelf or a few shelves filled with different Magnesium products, which may seem overwhelming. However, when you pause to think, why all the fuss about Magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential mineral and is one of the most abundant minerals in the body. Magnesium is absolutely essential for the regulation of hundreds of biochemical reactions. Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse reactions: including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium also contributes to the structural development of bone and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione. The average adult body contains approximately 25 g magnesium, with 50% to 60% present in the bones, with most of the rest being present in soft tissues.
Another additional benefit that magnesium seems to convey is helping to block or reduce pain chemicals in the brain. The pain reduction combined with the relaxing effect that magnesium has on blood vessels is what makes magnesium potentially beneficial for headaches and migraines. One of the main issues that contribute to most headaches is the constriction of the blood vessels, and then the corresponding pain that comes along with that change.
What Happens When We Don’t Have Enough Magnesium?
Some studies have suggested that 50% or more of North Americans are somewhat to significantly deficient in magnesium. Over time, low levels of magnesium may set the stage for a variety of health issues, including: blood sugar control, high blood pressure, and migraines. Older adults, alcoholics, and those with blood sugar balance or digestive issues are more likely to lack it, either because their bodies get rid of too much magnesium or they don’t take in enough in the first place.
Your body also uses magnesium to build new bone cells. Research suggests that it may also protect against bone loss, and broken bones. Some studies have shown that women with low bone density tend to have lower levels of magnesium than those who don’t have weak bones.
Where Can You Find Magnesium?
In addition to a good quality supplement, you can also find magnesium in a number of foods. Snacking on an ounce of almonds or cashews, can give you about 80 milligrams of magnesium. Other good choices include pumpkin seeds, pecans, sunflower seeds, peanuts, flax, whole grains, avocado, dark leafy greens, soy products, and beans. Sprinkle them on a salad or toss them into a trail mix. You’ll also get heart-healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants.
Why All the Different Types of Magnesium?
If you have every looked at a few bottles of magnesium in the store, you may have noticed that ‘magnesium’ is followed by another word. The other word indicates what ‘type’ of magnesium is in that product. There are many different types of magnesium, but three of the most common ones are: citrate, malate, and byslglycinate.
Magnesium citrate is generally chosen for it’s ‘laxative’ properties. Technnically all types of magnesium can help with mild constipation, but citrate tends to be more effective. Additional reasons to consider magnesium citrate include:
- Encouraging bowel movements, or ‘cleaning’ the intestines. This is why magnesium citrate is sometimes used before certain bowel procedures like a colonoscopy
- Relieving digestive complaints such as gas and bloating
- Helping regulate muscle and nerve functions
- Supporting higher energy levels or preventing fatigue
Magnesium malate is a combination of magnesium and malic acid. This particular formulation of magnesium may be helpful for issues related to overwhelm of the neuromuscular system. This has been looked at especially in relation to chronic health issues where the communication between the nerves and the muscles does not function properly, like chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
Both magnesium and malic acid help produce energy for your cells in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which numerous studies have found to be deficient in people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue type issues. One such study suggested that low levels of magnesium and zinc in these individuals may encourage a process called excitotoxicity, in which the neurotransmitter glutamate gets carried away and overstimulates those cells to death. This is where magnesium malate can be more beneficial than other types of magnesium.
Magnesium bysglycinate is a combination of magnesium and the amino acid ‘glycine’. This form of magnesium is generally thought to be more absorbable and bioavailable. This can be particularly benefical for individuals with a low amount of magnesium in the body or those who have issues with absorption. Magnesium is considered a macromineral, which means you need to consume more in order for your body to have what is necessary for its needs. Using a magnesium bisglycinate supplement, you get the benefits of a regular magnesium supplement with an overall better absorption rate, that gets more magnesium to the muslces and other tissues that need it most.
Who Should Use Magnesium?
For most healthy individuals, taking a magnesium supplement is a safe and easy addition to your health regimen. One of the main things most people do in starting a magnesium supplement is take too much magnesium. The average healthy human gut can absorb approximately 200-300 mg of magnesium at a time. If you’re supplementing, you want to pay attention to that becuase loose stool or diarrhea can result when you take too much at one time. Those who should be more cautious would be individuals with kidney or serious chronic health issues unless you’re being guided by your healthcare provider.