One of the magical vitamins I have been taking for years is magnesium glycinate. My motivation was anti-aging but, the below article by Dr. Mercola will explain why magnesium is important for SO MANY other reasons.
You don’t hear much about magnesium, yet an estimated 80 percent of Americans are deficient in this important mineral and the health consequences of deficiency are significant. One reason could be because magnesium, like vitamin D, serves so many functions it’s hard to corral.
Few nutrients possess the remarkable and diverse benefits of magnesium. It is the fourth most abundant mineral in cells after calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Magnesium is found in our bones, muscles, blood, and other tissues. It is needed by the body for energy production, fat and protein synthesis, muscle relaxation, nervous system function and calcium metabolism.
According to US Department of Agriculture data, two out of every three Americans don’t meet average daily intake requirements for magnesium, which are 300 milligrams (mg) to 420 mg daily for adults. In addition, many people have a magnesium deficiency due to stress, genetics or a medication, such as a diuretic (usually taken to control blood pressure). As a consequence, these people face an increased risk for health problems. Maintaining adequate levels of magnesium can help reduce muscle cramps, stabilize blood sugar, lower the risk for heart disease, ease migraine headaches, strengthen bones and slow the aging process.
As reported by GreenMedInfo, researchers have now detected 3,751 magnesium binding sites on human proteins, indicating that its role in human health and disease may have been vastly underestimated.
Magnesium is also found in more than 300 different enzymes in your body, which are responsible for:
- Regulation of blood sugar levels
- Creation of ATP (adenosine triphospate), the energy molecules of your body
- Action of your heart muscle
- Relaxation of blood vessels
- Promotion of proper bowel function
- Proper formation of bones and teeth
Magnesium also helps
- Aging – Magnesium also might help keep you younger. Studies show that magnesium is required to maintain telomeres, the protective tips of chromosomes (which are made up of genes). Researchers have found that magnesium-deficient cells have an abnormal shortening of their telomeres, which is strongly associated with rapid aging.
- Detoxification – Magnesium also plays a role in your body’s detoxification processes and therefore is important for helping to prevent damage from environmental chemicals, heavy metals and other toxins. Even glutathione, your body’s most powerful antioxidant that has even been called “the master antioxidant,” requires magnesium for its synthesis.
- Type 2 diabetes – Magnesium deficiency is common among people with type 2 diabetes. Earlier this year, German researchers conducted a study in which they gave magnesium supplements to overweight, prediabetic men and women. Those taking magnesium had a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar, better insulin resistance and lower blood pressure compared with those given a placebo.
- Migraines – Several studies have shown that supplementing with magnesium can reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. IV magnesium sulfate also has been found to relieve the pain of cluster headaches in people with low blood levels of magnesium. Research has found that magnesium levels affect serotonin receptors and other brain chemicals that affect headaches.
- Atrial fibrillation
- Muscle enhancement – In addition to cramp relief, magnesium has many other muscle-related benefits. The reason that people often say that they feel an increase in energy after starting to take magnesium supplements is that the mineral is involved in the body’s production of energy, most of which occurs in muscle cells. In a study conducted at the University of Palermo, Italy, researchers found that seniors with the highest levels of magnesium had the greatest muscle strength, including better grip strength, lower leg muscle power, knee-extension torque and ankle strength. People with low magnesium levels had poor muscle function and strength.
- Stress – Many people manifest stress physically by tensing the muscles of their back and shoulders, leading to tightness. Because magnesium is such a good muscle relaxant, it often can help ease muscle tension.
- Pain – Soaking in a bath with Epsom salts, which are granules of magnesium sulfate, is a well-known way to ease aches and pains. But I believe magnesium’s role in relieving severe pain has been barely tapped. In one study, British doctors used intravenous (IV) magnesium to treat people with postherpetic neuralgia, intense pain after a shingles (herpes zoster) outbreak. Pain was significantly reduced after just 30 minutes of receiving magnesium. Another study found that a onetime IV dose of 500 mg to 1,000 mg of magnesium sulfate eliminated nerve pain related to metastases in cancer patients. Oftentimes, a combination of IV and oral magnesium eases nerve pain.
There’s no lab test that will give you a truly accurate reading of the magnesium status in your tissues. Only one percent of magnesium in your body is distributed in your blood, making a simple sample of magnesium from a blood test highly inaccurate. However, you can ask your doctor for a red blood cell magnesium test, which is not a regular blood test.
With that in mind, some early signs of magnesium deficiency to keep an eye out for include:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and weakness
The Best Ways to Optimize Your Magnesium Levels
If you suspect you are low in magnesium one of the best ways to consume this mineral is through organically bound magnesium, found in whole foods.
Chlorophyll, which enables plants to capture solar energy and convert it into metabolic energy, has a magnesium atom at its center. Without magnesium, in fact, plants could not utilize the sun’s light energy.
In many ways chlorophyll is the plant’s version of our hemoglobin as they share a similar structure but have magnesium plugged in the middle rather than iron. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard are excellent sources of magnesium, as are some beans, nuts and seeds, like almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. Avocados are also a good source. Juicing vegetables is an excellent option to ensure you’re getting enough of them in your diet.
In order to ensure you’re getting enough, you first need to be sure you’re eating a varied, whole-food diet. But there are other factors too, that can make you more prone to magnesium deficiency, including the ailments listed below. If any of these conditions apply to you, you may want to take extra precautions to make sure you’re getting a sufficient amount of magnesium in your diet, or, if needed, from a magnesium supplement, in order to avoid magnesium deficiency.
- An unhealthy digestive system, which impairs your body’s ability to absorb magnesium (Crohn’s disease, leaky gut, etc.)
- Unhealthy kidneys, which contribute to excessive loss of magnesium in urine
- Diabetes, especially if it’s poorly controlled, leading increased magnesium loss in urine
- Age — older adults are more likely to be magnesium deficient because absorption decreases with age and the elderly are more likely to take medications that can interfere with absorption
- Alcoholism — up to 60 percent of alcoholics have low blood levels of magnesium
- Certain medications — diuretics, antibiotics and medications used to treat cancer can all result in magnesium deficiency
Foods with the Highest Amounts of Magnesium
Most people can keep their levels in the healthy range without resorting to supplements, simply by eating a varied diet, including plenty of dark-green leafy vegetables. One important point to mention though is that the levels of magnesium in your food are dependent on the levels of magnesium in the soil where they’re grown. Organic foods may have more magnesium, as most fertilizer used on conventional farms relies heavily on nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium instead of magnesium.
The below foods are exceptionally high in magnesium.
- Seaweed, agar, dried
- Spices, basil, dried
- Spice, coriander leaf, dried
- Dried pumpkin seeds
- Cocoa, dry powder, unsweetened
- Almond butter
- Whey, sweet, dried
Different Types of Magnesium Supplements
If for whatever reason you decide you need a supplement, be aware that there are a wide variety of magnesium supplements on the market, courtesy of the fact that magnesium must be bound to another substance. There’s simply no such thing as a 100% magnesium supplement. The substance used in any given supplement combination can affect the absorption and bioavailability of the magnesium, and may provide slightly different, or targeted, health benefits:
- Magnesium oxide is a non-chelated type of magnesium, bound to an organic acid or a fatty acid. Contains 60 percent magnesium, and has stool softening properties
- Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that tends to provide the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability and is typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency
- Magnesium chloride / Magnesium lactate contain only 12 percent magnesium, but has better absorption than others, such as magnesium oxide, which contains five times more magnesium
- Magnesium sulfate / Magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia) are typically used as a laxative. Be aware that it’s easy to overdose on these, so ONLY take as directed
- Magnesium carbonate, which has antacid properties, contains 45 percent magnesium
- Magnesium taurate contains a combination of magnesium and taurine, an amino acid. Together, they tend to provide a calming effect on your body and mind
- Magnesium citrate is magnesium with citric acid, which has laxative properties
- Magnesium threonate is a newer, emerging type of magnesium supplement that appears promising, primarily due to its superior ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane, and may be the best magnesium supplement on the market
Magnesium may actually be more important than calcium if you are going to consider supplementing. However, maintaining an appropriate calcium-to-magnesium ratio is important regardless. Research on the paleolithic or caveman diet has shown that the ratio of calcium to magnesium in the diet that our bodies evolved to eat is 1-to-1. Americans in general tend to have a higher calcium-to-magnesium ratio in their diet, averaging about 3.5-to-1.
Magnesium will also help keep calcium in your cells so they can do their job better. In many ways it serves as nutritional version of the highly effective class of drugs called calcium channel blockers, used in the treatment of high blood pressure, angina, and abnormal heart rhythms. Magnesium and vitamin K2 also complement each other, as magnesium helps lower blood pressure, which is an important component of heart disease.
FOLLOW me(button in the right column) to receive an email when a new anti-aging tip posts. You too can be as luscious as a goddess and as ageless as a vampire! Check out my ebook on amazon: The Ultimate Guide to Anti-Aging.