Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals on earth.
Magnesium is also one of the most powerful minerals that our body can absorb. It is responsible for over 300 biochemical processes including regulation of heart rhythm and neurotransmitter function. So why are so many Americans deficient (almost 80% of us) in this vital mineral that is so helpful to bodily function, regulation, anxiety control and pain relief?
The reasons are simple. The food we eat lacks the nutritional value due to depletion of the nutrients in the earth’s soil where we grow our food. Over-processing of the foods we eat is depleting the nutritional value as well. Also, a lot of our food and beverage choices can actually rob the body of magnesium. High sugar sodas and juices are among the main culprits.
Supplementing may be necessary to ensure that your body is absorbing proper levels for optimal regulation. So, what exactly is magnesium? How much should I take? Are there different types to choose from? What are the benefits?
What is magnesium?
Magnesium is an element found naturally in food, supplements and many natural earth formations. As mentioned above, it is responsible for over 300 enzymatic processes in the body. It helps to regulate blood pressure, protein synthesis and bone formation through activation of Vitamin D. It also contributes to antioxidant formation as well as DNA synthesis and repair.
The average person has approximately 25 grams of magnesium in their body. Of which almost 99% is in bone and soft tissues. This leaves very little left in the bloodstream to take care of enzymatic processes. As a result, any deficiency can alter how the body is functioning.
How much should you take?
The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is 400 mg for men and 310 for women, however, this number represents the bare minimum level needed per day. That’s why it is important to eat foods rich in magnesium and take supplements to ensure there is no deficiency. Remember, supplementation should always be discussed with your physician or other medical professional especially if you have any medical issues such as diabetes or kidney disease.
Which foods are rich in magnesium?
It is always better to get your vitamins and minerals through your diet. Diets strong and balanced with proper nutrients can help your immune system, provide energy and lead to an overall healthy life. Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, as well as legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains are good sources. A good rule of thumb is to look at foods high in dietary fiber. In general, these foods provide healthier amounts of magnesium. Of course, with so much processing and refinement of food, depletion of nutritional value occurs. Shopping for fresh, minimally processed foods is the way to go. On the other hand, there is always supplementation.
What type of magnesium supplement is right for me?
There are many types of supplements on the market used for a number of reasons from calming anxiety to helping symptoms of fibromyalgia. Typical forms of magnesium include magnesium oxide, citrate, glycinate and malate.
- Magnesium oxide is the most common form and is what is in the majority of multi-vitamins. It contains higher density of magnesium, but absorption is low. This type of magnesium and usually helps upset stomach and acid reflux.
- Magnesium citrate is a more readily utilized in the body. It is easy to find and is a good choice for maintaining healthy levels in the blood.
- Magnesium glycinate absorbs most easily in the body and is one of the best types for those who have deficient levels. It is also a good choice for calming anxiety and helping nerve pain.
- Magnesium malate combines with malic acid, which is a key component to energy production in the body. This form is effective for those with fibromyalgia, low energy levels, chronic fatigue and muscle pain.
Magnesium and pain relief
As a physical therapist I am always looking for other ways to help my patients with pain relief. Magnesium can do this naturally without any of the dangerous side-effects of prescription medications. Other than those with kidney disorders, it is safe to use and any excess passes out of the body through urination.
How does it help with pain? Magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties that modulate cellular activity that cause inflammation. This can help with those who suffer from both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis reduce pain in there joints. Magnesium also helps with calcium absorption. Calcium is necessary for bone strength and prevention of bone and joint breakdown. Therefore, it is a great way to help prevent arthritic changes in joints. Magnesium is known as the “relaxation mineral”. It has a calming effect on nerves and muscles. This can help with muscle strains and nerve pain associate with many musculoskeletal injuries including neck and back pain. In fact, many people suffering from fibromyalgia are using magnesium to help regulate their chronic pain symptoms.
Magnesium has hundreds of benefits in the body. There are so many health benefits to taking proper levels of this mineral. The preventative measures it provides can help improve lives. This naturally occurring mineral is available in all types of forms. It can be taken either orally or used as a topical oil. With little to no major side-effects, why not make sure magnesium levels are sufficient? When taken in proper doses, along with a good balance of other vitamins and minerals, it can help pain levels and accelerate healing. Talk to your health provider about the benefits of natural vitamin and mineral supplementation for healthier living.