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Magnesium: Meanings, Forms, Benefits, and More

Magnesium: Meanings, Forms, Benefits, and More

Magnesium is an essential mineral for maintaining optimal health. As one of the most abundant minerals in the body, magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems in the body. This includes: protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium contributes to the structural development of bone and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione. Magnesium also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm.

Some studies have suggested that 50% or more of North Americans are somewhat to significantly deficient in magnesium. Over time, low levels of the mineral may set the stage for a variety of health issues including: Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and migraines. Older adults, alcoholics, and those with Type 2 diabetes 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.

Your body actually uses magnesium to build new bone cells. Research suggests that it may also protect against bone loss, broken bones, and the bone disease osteoporosis. In fact, some studies show that women with osteoporosis tend to have lower levels of magnesium than those who don’t.

Based on all of this, we can see how important magnesium is in the body. Ensuring that we get plenty in our diet is one step. Dietary sources can include: almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, pecans, sunflower seeds, peanuts, flax, whole grains, avocado, dark leafy greens, soy products, or beans. Sprinkle them on a salad or toss them into a trail mix. You’ll also get heart-healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants.

As important as eating magnesium rich foods is, our food sources in general are often lower in magnesium compared to what they used to be due to farming practices and other factors. Keeping this is mind, selecting a good quality magnesium supplement can be helpful. In addition to getting enough, knowing which type of magnesium you need can make a difference. There are many different forms of magnesium, but the the three main ones are citrate, malate, and bysglycinate.

Magnesium Citrate: generally citrate is chosen over other magnesium forms for it’s ‘laxative’ properties. All types of magnesium will help with mild constipation, but citrate tends to be more effective.

Magnesium Malate: is a combination of magnesium and malic acid. This particular formulation of magnesium may be helpful for conditions related to over-excitation of the neuromuscular system, including chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

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, and generally used more often for individuals with a low amount of magnesium in the blood or issues with absorption.

This does not cover all the possible ways to look at magnesium, but it can serve as a good place to start. If you are unsure of what magnesium amount or type to use, talking to your healthcare provider can be helpful in dertermining what is best for your health needs.

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