Magnesium is not one of the most present minerals in our body in terms of quantity, but I do consider it one of the most crucial. It is also a major nutrient deficiency in most adults. I’ve seen numbers suggestion as high as 80% of us are low.
As a co-factor in almost all of our body’s activities generating energy or removing toxins, this nutrient is vital. 600 enzymes have been identified as being magnesium dependent.
Magnesium is important for brain health. It helps with relaxation both during the day and at night when we are wanting to go to sleep. It definitely can help with relieving constipation.
We use magnesium every day during muscle movement, heartbeat and hormone production. It is extremely important for your metabolism, enzyme function and for balancing nitric oxide in the body.
There is a staggering amount of research regarding the need to take magnesium as a supplement. Some of the more significant symptoms of a lack of this mineral include migraines, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, tooth cavities, muscle weakness and cramps. Even mood swings and restless leg syndrome have been associated with a deficiency.
Magnesium is particularly likely to be depleted in individuals with metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and pre-diabetes. We just aren’t getting the recommended amount of about 300 to 400 mg a day.
Unfortunately, our food supply is generally lacking in adequate sources of magnesium. Soil depletion and digestive disorders both lead to malabsorption of magnesium. And some prescription medications and antibiotics can damage the digestive track to the point magnesium cannot be absorbed and properly utilized from foods.
Magnesium needs to be combined, sometimes called reacted, with other elements into a salt in order to be taken as a supplement. Each form has a fairly predictable set of characteristics, particularly in regards to constipation.
Magnesium sulfate is commonly known as Epsom salt and has the strongest and quickest laxative effect. Magnesium oxide is considered a strong laxative and can be useful if you are taking a narcotic that causes constipation or you feel really blocked. It is often the cheapest. Magnesium citrate would be a medium laxative and, even less so, magnesium gylcinate.
For the other magnesium benefits, you can choose one that is readily absorbed and has less of a laxative effective. This gets more into your body to be used for those important functions. Magnesium citrate absorbs fairly well.
Or, for 40% better absorption over the citrate chelate, you could consider a form of magnesium reacted with both citric and malic acid. There are a few other forms available, like magnesium lactate, that may be worth reviewing.
In a recent study I saw reviewed, the form combined with gylcine (bisglycinate) looked particularly attractive with the least laxative affects and the best absorption into the blood.
Magnesium applied to the skin can be absorbed directly in the body. This avoids the entire problem with getting diarrhea. If you want magnesium, particularly for leg cramps, look for an oil spray or lotion. The form used here is typically magnesium chloride.
Scott Porter is a Functional Medicine Pharmacist at Sandpoint Super Drug. He is a member of the Sandpoint Wellness Council.
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