Magnesium is an essential mineral in the human body. It is the foundation of our growth and a key element in our everyday function. The impact magnesium has on the human body is seldom discussed, even in health classes, so it is not uncommon for the full range of its benefits to go unacknowledged by most people.
Magnesium serves in the important functions of;
❖ Creating amino acids
❖ Assisting in energy production
❖ Promoting bone health
❖ Improves Vitamin D production
❖ Balancing blood glucose
❖ Regulating blood pressure and cardiovascular health
❖ Transporting calcium and potassium across cell membranes in the nervous system
❖ Maintaining heart rhythm and promoting heart health
Magnesium deficiency contributes to healthcare issues like muscle weakness, heart disease, and even type 2 diabetes. The recommended amount is between 400 mg to 420 mg of magnesium for an adult male and 310 mg to 320 mg of magnesium for an adult female. However, dietary surveys from the FDA show that a majority of individuals in America do not track their magnesium intake, take supplements, or get the recommended daily amount of magnesium. Since magnesium levels are well balanced by the body, toxicity through high doses is highly unlikely as long as supplements are taken as directed. This means it is safe to research and purchase magnesium supplements to maximize your health.
Avoiding Magnesium Deficiency Through Diet
Many different types of magnesium can be found in a variety of foods, especially those high in fiber. Legumes, leafy vegetables, cashews, whole grains, and even animal products contain magnesium. Foods that are more processed, like breakfast cereals, will often have magnesium fortified into them and if they do it should be apparent in the nutritional content column.
The difficulty with obtaining enough magnesium through diet alone is the body only absorbs about 30% to 40% of all forms of magnesium found in foods.
Since the amount of magnesium that is bioavailable through foods can be low, it is easier and more effective to take magnesium supplements. Finding the right types of magnesium supplements can be difficult, so it is best to educate yourself on all forms before choosing the right one for you. High doses of zinc can disrupt the body’s absorption and lead to low levels of magnesium even when it is being taken as a supplement. It is important to be mindful of other medications you are taking, preexisting health conditions, and possible drug interactions before adding magnesium supplements to your diet. Side effects commonly include gastrointestinal upset or diarrhea and they are short term. However, the intensity and appearance of these side effects depend on the individual.
Magnesium oxide is most commonly chosen as a form of heartburn and indigestion relief. It has the highest levels of elemental magnesium, however, it is not readily bioavailable as a supplement because much of it is flushed out of the body due to its laxative effect. Low magnesium levels can still be possible while taking magnesium oxide.
This form of magnesium comes as a powder or gel that is meant to be mixed with water and drank. It is commonly used as a laxative for constipation and it takes effect anywhere from half an hour to six hours after ingestion. Magnesium Citrate is not intended for long term use unless it is recommended by a doctor.
Magnesium chloride is easily obtainable over the counter as an antacid, a promoter of bone health to combat osteoporosis, and a mild laxative. It commonly comes in a pill form and it is commonly derived from seawater. It can occasionally be found and used in a topical form to pinpoint and treat sore muscles. Epsom salts are another form of topical magnesium that can be absorbed into the body during an Epsom salt-infused bath.
Some individuals have a sensitivity to citric acid or oxides that makes those forms of magnesium produce laxative effects even in low doses. Magnesium Glycinate has no laxative effects for most individuals, so higher doses should not be of concern and it is commonly chosen for increased bioavailability of magnesium as well as its ability to improve sleep quality.
This supplemental magnesium can be found as a pill or capsule in most health and medication isles. It is considered mild, without laxative effect, and is commonly the best form of magnesium for increasing energy production.
This is an osmotic laxative that comes in liquid or powder form. The powder form must be mixed with water to be consumed and it is commonly given prior to colonoscopies.
Supplements for magnesium commonly contain magnesium orotate. This is a combination of magnesium salt and orotic acid that are poorly soluble in water, but well absorbed by cells. It has antioxidant-like properties and is meant to provide bioavailable magnesium to the body without a laxative effect.
Milk of Magnesia
The active ingredient in this form of magnesium is magnesium hydroxide. Milk of magnesia is the common name and it is commonly used to treat constipation for adults and children. It comes in a chewable tablet, a regular tablet, and a liquid form. In combination with calcium carbonate, it can also be used to combat indigestion, heartburn, and an upset stomach.
This form of magnesium is being researched by the National Aging Institute (NIH) for its neurotransmitter related properties. It is expected that magnesium l-threonate has the ability to improve learning and memory for people suffering from dementia.