So why is this mineral so special? Magnesium is an essential mineral for over 300 enzyme reactions and has pages of therapeutic applications. Most naturopaths label this mineral as our calming/relaxing mineral and there is a good reason for that. Not only is this mineral essential for energy production it affects the conduction of nerve impulses, muscle contraction and normal heart rhythm. Magnesium does this by regulating calcium’s movement into the skeletal muscle cells smooth muscle cells, heart pacemaker cells and nerve cells. Magnesium’s other therapeutic uses include:
- Esssential mineral for energy production
- Reduces stress and anxiety levels
- Vitamin D absorption and activation for building healthy bones
- Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
- Works in the kidneys to help prevent kidney stones
- Regulates and normalises blood pressure
- Promotes restful sleep
- Eases muscle cramping and spasms
- Protein production, DNA and RNA production
- Digestion of carbohydrates
- Ear cell functioning
- Controls the enzymes that produce good and bad cholesterol therefore lowering serum cholesterol levels and triglycerides
- Prevents blood clots and preserves the lining of your arteries
- Decreases insulin resistance and the risk of diabetes
- Balances blood sugar levels and reducing sugar cravings
- Encourages proper bowel elimination
- Relieves fibromyalgia
- Reduces pain levels
- Aids weight loss
- Aids in the treatment of asthma and emphysema
- Protects from radiation
- Enhances circulation
- Cluster headaches or migraines (due to its vasodilation effects)
So what are the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency?
Magnesium deficiency has no single symptom, and is not regularly diagnosed via blood tests as it isn’t found in abundance in the blood, therefore any of the following signs and symptoms could suggest that you are magnesium deficient:
- Muscle cramping, muscle weakness, and muscle trembling
- Personality changes such as depression, anxiety, irritability and impaired concentration
- Hypertension or heart palpitations
- Water retention
- Insulin resistance
- Nausea, vomiting
- Poor appetite
- Inability to sleep or insomnia
- Sensitivity to noise
- Infertility or PMS
- High levels of stress
- Fuzzy brain or difficulty concentrating
- Allergies and intolerances
- Gut disorders
- Thyroid problems
- Poor coordination
- Kidney stones
- Poor dental health
If you have 5 or more of the mentioned symptoms it is highly likely you have a magnesium deficiency and should speak to your Naturopath.
In clinic when do I normally prescribe magnesium?
- In times of stress
- For sports performance, muscle tension and cramping
- PMS symptoms
- Headaches and migraines
- Metabolic syndrome and PCOS
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Cardiovascular disease
Magnesium is also very important for children and I use it therapeutically for:
- Mood and behaviour
- Metabolism and glucose control
- Growing pains
- Insomnia or sleeping problems
- Constipation (making sure the child firstly has adequate water intake)
Why don’t we get enough magnesium in our diet?
We don’t eat enough magnesium due to industrial farming techniques depleting the soil of this precious mineral. Other ways we lose magnesium in food are via modern food processing practices, cooking and boiling which removes any remaining magnesium.
We also don’t drink enough magnesium as our tap water is treated (the magnesium is removed to soften the water), then fluoridation binds the remaining magnesium. Most of our bottled water contains little to no magnesium.
We absorb less magnesium as phosphoric acid in sodas, phosphates in processed meats, phytic acid in grains, nuts and soy products, oxalic acid in greens all bind to magnesium preventing absorption.
You will excrete too much magnesium in your urine if you:
- eat sugar, salt or drink alcohol, coffee or tea
- are diabetic
- exercise or sweat
- are under stress
- frequently exposed to loud noises
- take diuretics for your blood pressure
So as you can see it’s no surprise that there is such a high prevalence of magnesium deficiency in Australia. This is why we often have to supplement with magnesium in order to improve our magnesium status.
What’s the best form of magnesium to take?
I’m often asked what the best way to absorb magnesium is, and luckily for us there are a few different options:
- Supplemental magnesium– This is our first port of call. Supplemental magnesium allows us to be able to control the dose we are giving our patients. If we need to supplement a high therapeutic dose we are able to do this carefully and successfully. The two best and most researched forms of magnesium are magnesium amino acid chelate and magnesium aspartate. These forms of magnesium are mostly found in our practitioner only products.
- Transdermal magnesium (topical magnesium)– is used on the skin as a magnesium spray, roll on or oil. It absorbs rapidly and is more bioavailable as it bypasses the digestive system and kidneys. This option is best for people with poor digestive function or poor kidney function.
- Bathing using magnesium salts– A relaxing way to get a good dose of magnesium is to draw a bath and add 1-2 cups of magnesium salts. This form of magnesium is absorbed via the skin similar to topical magnesium. I often recommend this form of magnesium for people that are stressed and don’t have a lot of ‘me’ time. I find it encourages them to take a break and do something for themselves.