My favorite mineral: Magnesium

Everyone in our family takes a magnesium supplement in addition to the magnesium we get from our diet. Magnesium is an essential mineral, which means our body needs it to function. We get it from our diet or with supplements. 

Lack of magnesium may lead to irritability, muscle weakness, and irregular heartbeat. Every organ in the body — especially the heart, muscles, and kidneys — needs the mineral magnesium. It also contributes to the makeup of teeth and bones. Most important, it activates enzymes, contributes to energy production, and helps regulate calcium levels as well as copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients in the body.

Certain medical conditions, however, can upset the body’s magnesium balance. For example, an intestinal virus that causes vomiting or diarrhea can cause temporary magnesium deficiencies. Some gastrointestinal diseases (such as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS and ulcerative colitis), diabetes, pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone levels), kidney disease, and taking diuretics can lead to deficiencies. Too much coffee, soda, salt, or alcohol as well as heavy menstrual periods, excessive sweating, and prolonged stress can also lower magnesium levels. Children on the autism spectrum tend to be low in magnesium due to digestive issues and diet.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include:

  • agitation and anxiety
  • restless leg syndrome (RLS)
  • sleep disorders
  • irritability
  • nausea and vomiting
  • abnormal heart rhythms, low blood pressure
  • confusion
  • muscle spasm and weakness
  • hyperventilation
  • insomnia
  • poor nail growth

Magnesium will:

  • relax nerve impulses and muscle contractions
  • promote relaxation; aid in restful sleep
  • help lower blood pressure
  • keep your bones strong (especially when taken with calcium)
  • keep your heart healthy by lowering cholesterol
  • relieve symptoms of menopause and PMS
  • help the body absorb calcium and potassium

Fibromyalgia – A small preliminary clinical study of 24 people with fibromyalgia suggest that a proprietary tablet containing both malic acid and magnesium may improve pain and tenderness associated with fibromyalgia when taken for at least 2 months. Other studies suggest the combination of calcium and magnesium may be helpful for some people with fibromyalgia. Magnesium has been shown to relieve muscle pain and fatigue in individuals with Fibromyalgia.

Migraine headache – A few studies suggest that taking magnesium supplements may help prevent migraine headaches. In addition, a few clinical studies suggest that magnesium supplements may shorten the duration of a migraine and reduce the amount of medication needed. People who have migraine headaches tend to have lower levels of magnesium compared to those with tension headaches or no headaches at all.  Some experts suggest combining magnesium with the herb feverfew along with vitamin B2 (riboflavin) may be helpful when you have a headache.

Type 2 Diabetes - It is estimated that up to 80 percent of those with type 2 diabetes have a magnesium deficiency. High glucose levels, in patients with Type 2 Diabetes, will cause the body to flush magnesium from its system. In a recent study, people with diabetes who took magnesium supplements had improved insulin and glucose levels.

Heart Disease - “Magnesium does a heart good”. People with heart conditions, including heart attacks, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms and coronary artery disease, tend to be magnesium deficient. Studies show that people with low amounts of magnesium in the body have double the risk of developing coronary heart disease, and that magnesium supplementation can lower cholesterol by as much as 20 percent. Magnesium supplementation can increase individuals’ magnesium levels and minimize the risks associated with heart disease.

DIET: The best dietary sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, peas, beans, and cereal grains in which the germ or outer layers have not been removed.  For example, spinach (1 cup) and pumpkin seeds (1 ounce) will provide about 157 mg.; long grain brown rice (1 cup) provides 84 mg.; 1/2 fillet of wild fresh salmon contains 59 mg. For a list of foods rich in magnesium, the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements has a list: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/magnesium#h2

A diet high in fat may cause less magnesium to be absorbed. Cooking may decrease the magnesium content of food.

Diets that provide plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are good sources of potassium and magnesium, are consistently associated with lower blood pressure. The DASH study (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) suggested that high blood pressure could be significantly lowered by a diet high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium, and low in sodium and fat.  Evidence suggests that magnesium may play an important role in regulating blood pressure.

The U.S. RDA of magnesium intake for children 4 – 10 yrs is between 120 – 170 mg/day; adults between 270 – 400 mg./day.

To supplement your diet with magnesium, there are various forms of magnesium to choose from.

TYPE OF MAGNESIUM: Magnesium citrate, oxide, glycinate, and sulfate. For constipation, people use magnesium citrate, but for a good supplement for bodily functions without diarrhea, we use magnesium glycinate.

The various forms of magnesium will affect the digestive tract differently. Below are some guidelines on how your body may react to types of magnesium:

  • oxide:  tends to firm stools
  • glycinate:  a very gentle form of magnesium that is easier on the system
  • citrate:  tends to loosen stools
  • sulfate:  tends to loosen stools
  • chloride:  tends to loosen stools

Magnesium sulfate – Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate. Be sure to buy USP (U.S.Pharmaceutical grade). You can get them at the Dollar store, grocery.drug store and Costco. Epsom salts will:

  • ease stress and improve sleep
  • reduce inflammation and relieve muscle pain/cramps
  • flush out toxins
  • help prevent or ease migraine headaches

When given an Epsom salt bath, the magnesium and sulfate in the salts are absorbed into the body through the skin.  Sulfate is thought to circulate in the body up to about nine hours. Any Epsom salts left on the skin may continue to be absorbed as long as it is still on the skin, offering continuous ‘timed-released’ input into the bloodstream.  I put 1.5 to 2 cups of Epsom salts in hot bath water to dissolve and then add the cold water to balance the temperature. Soak for about 15 minutes before using natural soaps or shampoos. Others add baking soda and lavender oil to enhance the relaxation effects.  You can also do a foot bath of hot water and Epsom Salts for 15 minutes while watching TV/reading before bed.

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5 Responses

  1. I love reading another moms blog that is so into bio-med. My son also saw Dr. S and just love him! I started a page on facebook all about bio-med and I’m trying to spread the word. would love for you to join. http://www.facebook.com/biomedheals

  2. Great post. I am also a firm believer in taking magnesium. I like the Natural Calm for both adults and kids. I have also gotten my kids taking epson salts baths, they love them!

  3. [...] View on Biomedical Intervention.  Today they had a great post that I wanted to share…My favorite mineral:MagnesiumWe are firm believers of magnesium for your health in our household and epson salt baths are one of [...]

  4. One of ours too… we get ours through daily Epsom Salt baths and GABA-Mag cream. The stuff works wonders.

  5. well written. thanks for the useful article, keep up the good work.

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