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What you need to know about magnesium. Plus, which magnesium form is for you?

by LINDSAY CHRISTENSEN, MS, CNS, LDN, A-CFHC, CKNS

In this Article

What nutrient is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body that most American’s are deficient in? If you guessed magnesium, you are correct! This underappreciated mineral is a vital “sparkplug” in our bodies, affecting countless physiological functions. Without it, we can experience many health challenges, ranging from hormonal imbalances to poor-quality sleep. (Source, Source)

Read on to learn more about this important mineral and how supplementation may benefit you.

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential macromineral, a mineral that the body needs in large amounts. Magnesium is involved in numerous enzymatic reactions inside the body, ranging from cellular energy (ATP) production to heart health to bone composition and structure. (

Because this mineral has so many important jobs in the body, it can easily become depleted. Insufficient magnesium levels can occur in the body because of low dietary magnesium intake, heavy sweating (such as in athletes and sauna users), and from certain medications, including proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and hormonal contraceptives. Older adults and heavy alcohol drinkers are also prone to low magnesium levels. (Source, Source, Source, Source)

Suboptimal magnesium levels can manifest in a variety of ways, including:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness and tingling in the extremities
  • Mood changes
  • Abnormal heart rhythm

It has been proposed that chocolate cravings may be a sign of suboptimal magnesium levels because chocolate and cacao are rich in magnesium and may help replenish this nutrient. However, this has yet to be proven. (Source) (Source)

Along with chocolate, there are several foods that are a good source of magnesium. Research shows that over half of the U.S. adult population consumes less than the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for magnesium of 330-350 mg/day for adult men and 300-335 mg/day for adult women. (Source)

Here are some examples of foods rich in magnesium:

  • Avocados: Half an avocado provides 29 mg of magnesium
  • Almonds: 1 ounce of almonds provides approximately 75 mg of magnesium
  • Cashews: 1 ounce of cashews provides 83 mg of magnesium.
  • Pumpkin seeds: 1 ounce offers 74 mg of magnesium. Choose sprouted pumpkin seeds to get more bioavailable magnesium.
  • Salmon: 4 ounces of salmon provides 31 mg of magnesium
  • Leafy greens: 2 cups of collard greens provide 20 mg of magnesium
  • Cacao powder: 1 tablespoon offers 27 mg of magnesium
  • Pistachios: 1 ounce provides 34 mg of magnesium

When Food is Not Enough – Magnesium Supplementation

If you suspect you may be deficient in magnesium, talk with your healthcare provider to determine whether a magnesium supplement might be right for you. Magnesium is one of the most common supplemented minerals on the market, and there are several benefits that tell us why.

6 Benefits of Magnesium Replenishment

  1. Mental Well-Being: Optimizing one’s magnesium level may help support a healthy mood. Magnesium may support mental health by regulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the body’s stress response system. Magnesium may also modulate levels of serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter that supports a healthy mood. (Source, Source, Source)
  2. Support for Restful Sleep: If you struggle with sleep, magnesium may be a helpful tool for you! Research suggests a higher magnesium intake is associated with better sleep quality and an ideal sleep duration. (Source)
  3. Support for Insulin Sensitivity: While diet, exercise, and sleep are foundational for insulin sensitivity, optimizing your magnesium status may also help! Research shows that low magnesium decreases insulin sensitivity, whereas magnesium replenishment via supplementation increases it. (Source)
  4. Support for Healthy Bones: Studies show that people deficient in magnesium are more prone to issues with bone density, including suboptimal bone density and fractures. Furthermore, research shows that magnesium supplementation aids . (Source)
  5. Healthy Heart Support: Optimizing magnesium levels supports a healthy cardiovascular system by supporting healthy blood pressure, and balanced cholesterol levels. Magnesium may impact these aspects of the cardiovascular system by regulating oxidative stress, (oxidative stress can hurt blood vessel integrity), and by controlling pressure in the blood vessels. (Source)
  6. Solace from Occasional Headaches: Magnesium may help people with occasional headaches by relaxing blood vessels, which may influence the intensity of headaches; regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine; reducing tension and tightness in the muscles of the head and neck. (Source)

Choosing a Magnesium Supplement that’s Right for You

Magnesium comes in an array of forms, with different degrees of bioavailability and effects on the body. When choosing a magnesium product that’s right for you, it’s important to understand what your health needs and goals are – and for that it can be beneficial to work with a healthcare practitioner.

Below is a quick guide to common forms of magnesium and their uses.

MAGNESIUM FORM PURPOSE
L-Threonate May support brain, mood, and cognition, calming
Glycinate Overall health, calming, relaxation, sleep
Taurate Cardiovascular health and healthy blood sugar
Malate Physical discomforts, tension
Citrate Digestion
Hydroxide Bowel motility and regularity

Magnesium supplementation isn’t suitable for everyone. Working with a qualified health professional is always recommended to understand the need, form, and optimal dosage.

The Bottom Line on Magnesium

The body needs the mineral magnesium for hundreds of biochemical processes and magnesium insufficiency is quite common. There are a number of foods sources of magnesium, but we often don’t get enough of it through our diets, especially when magnesium can become easily depleted through exercise and other lifestyle habits. Supplementation with magnesium may be a good option to support a healthy mood, brain health, sleep, heart health, GI regularity and more.

While magnesium supplementation can be beneficial, it isn’t right for everyone. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine whether magnesium is right for you, and if it is, what form to take and in what quantity. Improving your magnesium status may benefit your health in the immediate and long-term.

 

 

 

by LINDSAY CHRISTENSEN, MS, CNS, LDN, A-CFHC, CKNS

 References

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https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14245235

In this Article

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