- & choosing the right clinically effective supplement for your needs.
One of my favourite nutrients to supplement is Magnesium. I really notice a difference when I have stopped taking it for a while and many clients report the same. The most common reason to take Magnesium I find is for leg cramps or restless leg issues and stress but actually Magnesium has so many health benefits and plays a huge role within the body. So….what is Magnesium and why should you consider taking it?
What is magnesium what does it do?
This important macro nutrient is an essential mineral and is involved in over 300 biochemical functions in the body with critical enzyme reactions involved in energy production and is an essential nutrient for the cells of the heart so important for cardiovascular health. However Magnesium is also essential for neurotransmitter function, muscle contraction and muscle relaxation, bone formation and cell formation.
As a result of its importance magnesium deficiency can present with any of the following symptoms:
Cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes
High cholesterol, high blood pressure
Pain, headaches, migraines, fibromyalgia
Stress, hormone imbalance, fatigue, insomnia or sleep issues
Cramps, restless leg syndrome, wry neck
Osteoporosis, dental cavities
Where can you find it in food?
Magnesium is able to be stored well within the body with one of the highest concentrations found in bones then muscles as well as soft tissue and body fluids. When magnesium is needed it can be utilised from any of these storage points. To replenish our stores good food sources of magnesium include:
Almonds, buckwheat, cocoa, wheat bran, cashews, brazil nuts, pecan, kelp, brown rice, avocado, bananas, sunflower seeds, potatoes with skin, kumara, cod fish, shellfish, green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and silver beet.
So do I need to supplement?
When we consume foods with magnesium about 50% is able to be absorbed which is great. So why is it that we could be deficient?
To begin with, even though we might be consuming foods that are technically “good sources” of magnesium these foods may be been grown in soil with low levels of magnesium. In New Zealand our soil is regarded as quite varied and “rich” but only a small percentage is actually fertile enough for the ability to grow food without too much interference. The intense agricultural practices in recent times has also added to the depletion of natural magnesium in soil. So although we may think we are consuming the right foods, we may still not be getting enough magnesium for the body.
Another inhibiting factor is that magnesium absorption requires an acidic stomach environment for best absorption. So people with digestive issues or who have been on stomach acid reducing medication for long periods of time may present with some of those pesky annoying symptoms listed above and wonder why? High coffee consumption and alcohol consumption will also interfere with magnesium absorption.
Foods that are highly processed tend to be low in magnesium due to the milling process, but other more “natural factors” such as Oxalic acid found in green leafy vegetables and Phytic acid found in grains also interfere with magnesium absorption within the intestine. These natural compounds found in food are there to protect the plant itself, but within our digestive system means it has a harder job breaking down and as a result we don’t get the nutrients we think we should be getting. Confusing! Yes sir!
So as you can see it is quite a mission to get magnesium into us in the first place.
I cannot stress enough though the importance of eating whole and natural foods – that is foods in their natural state with minimal processing – to get the foundation of good nutrients including magnesium into your body. This is due to the fact that we get not only our important vitamins and minerals and macro nutrients but the multitude of flavonoids that we now know work with these nutrients for optimal health.
So for those still experiencing any of the above symptoms you may want to consider a Magnesium supplement. I often get asked (or told) why bother with supplements. I feel that because of the above points and if you have any of the above symptoms then your body is crying out for a “therapeutic” need for vitamins and/or minerals. So supplementation may well be beneficial!
Which supplement is best/will I get loose bowel motions?
Ahh….often why some people don’t like to take a magnesium supplement is because they have tried it and it has caused them unwanted side effects such as urgent bowel motions (of the ikky loose kind). Remember not all sources of Magnesium are the same and not everyone will react in the same way – remember each of us is unique with our biochemical reactions!
Some magnesium supplements may cause loose bowel motions. The reason for this is that magnesium that has not been absorbed will attract water – and within the colon – this will cause loose bowel motions for some people. Often reducing the dose of your supplement can be enough to stop this unwanted side effect or changing the type of magnesium mineral you are taking. The types of magnesium that may cause this include orotate, chelate, hydroxide and sulfate.
For this reason I love Magnesium supplements that are bisglycinate as this type of magnesium can resist those compounds such as oxalic acid and phytates that get in the way of absorption, but also have has the ability to transport into the bloodstream without attracting water, so less chance of urgent bowels!
Another favourite is Magnesium Citrate which has great research around it being high bio-available, meaning it can get into the blood stream at a higher rate compared to other Magnesium types.
And what about for kids?
Well funnily enough, I actually love your plain and simple Tissue Salts. These tiny little tablets are perfectly safe for kids, toddlers and babies (crushed up). They dissolve in the mouth which means they can be absorbed super quickly into the blood stream via the network of veins under your tongue. Don’t ask me why, but from clinical experience kids just do so well with Tissue Salts, adults not as much (not to say they don’t, a small number really do).
Tissues Salts are based on Homeopathic Medicine from the 1800’s where it was believed that by restoring mineral deficiency then this would help the body to have better health. I agree with this today for sure!
Top reasons to take a Magnesium supplement.
Essential for energy production and cardiovascular health
Helps with neurotransmitter function
Essenital for muscle relaxation, cramps, tight muscles or restless leg
May be very helpful for tension headaches, migraines, chronic pain
Needed for good bone health - helps with activity of bone cells
If you have any health concerns or nutritional questions around Magnesium, drop me a line or book and appointment!
Take care everyone!
Clinical Nutritionist DipNut GradCert. HPN