Did you know magnesium is essential for over 300 processes in the human body? From the normal function of healthy bones to a reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Did you know that magnesium (Mg) is the fourth most common mineral in the human body after calcium, sodium, and potassium and is the second most common intracellular cation after potassium?

Despite magnesium being important for 300 processes, most of us are no longer getting enough in our regular diets.

In North America, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 310–320mg and 410–420 mg per day for females and males, respectively, while the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends 300 mg for women and 350 mg for men as the adequate daily intake of the mineral. Lots of numbers to consider, but all you need to know is you are no longer likely to be getting this from your food, even if you make healthy choices.

A recent study found that 75% of Americans are not getting enough magnesium in their diet (let’s assume that it’s the same data for us Brits, for whom we unfortunately don’t have the raw data). How can this be the case? Our environment has changed. Today even healthy foods are often nutrient-deficient! Today, you must eat gigantic servings of vegetables to equal the nutrition of one serving from previous decades. Seriously, you know it’s bad when the FDA admits that nutrient levels in soil have dropped 81% in the past 30 years. That means, statistically, to get the same nutritional benefit as we did 30 years ago, we now need to consume five times as much fruit and vegetables. Yes. Five times more. Yet my guess is overall we are eating less and less.

 Where can magnesium still be found naturally?

In foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables (such as spinach). It can also be found in milk, yoghurt, and other milk products.

This graphic from Harvard Medical School shows some magnesium rich foods.

Although these foods contain magnesium, the amount is said to have dropped in the last fifty years, by 80%. Compounding the issue is that much of it is lost during modern food processing. So, a double negative whammy. The depleted soil yields less and what little is still available gets destroyed in the processing of food! Yet remember, it is crucial to over 300 bodily functions.

According to Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas, “Efforts to breed new varieties of crops that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly,” reported Davis, “but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.” Consequently, a large percentage of people all over the world no longer receive their vital daily dose of magnesium.

Furthermore, the cooking and boiling of foods results in a significant decline in the Mg content. This is before we even consider that as a nation we are eating less and less un-processed foods.

Magnesium deficiency can have an impact on how other vitamins work in your body, too. One recent study* suggests that inadequate intake of magnesium can negatively impact Vitamin D synthesis – a vitamin crucial for supporting your immune system. This is important to consider, as in Britain during our winter months, many of us do not get enough exposure to direct sunlight, which can already lead to a deficiency in vitamin D.  So much so, that even the Government advise that everyone should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter. When you compound this with the notion that inadequate magnesium consumption can affect Vitamin D synthesis, it makes you really want to make sure you’re consuming enough!

There are also other factors which could lead to a magnesium deficiency such as:

  • Low magnesium diet
  • Gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease and coeliac disease
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Conditions such as diabetes
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Common symptoms of a Magnesium deficiency

How do you know if you have a magnesium deficiency? The following are some symptoms of a magnesium deficiency, but if you're concerned about your magnesium levels, we recommend you ask your doctor for a blood test to confirm.

  • Muscle twitching and cramps
  • Mental disorders
  • Osteoporosis
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat

Some studies have found that a lack of magnesium in the body may be stressful for your body, which can lead to an increase in the production of stress hormones. Further studies have also found a significant link between low magnesium intake and depression in adults.

The benefits of magnesium

The following are some of the relevant health benefits from magnesium according to the European Food Safety Authority:

  • Contributes to the normal function of healthy bones, teeth and the nervous system.

This is because magnesium is involved in bone formation through its influence on bone turnover, as well as its role in potentiating vitamin D.

  • Contributes to regular muscle function, including the heart.

Magnesium helps lower blood pressure in people with elevated levels and helps move blood sugar into your muscles and dispose of lactate, which can build up during exercise and cause fatigue.

  • Contributes to a reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Magnesium is involved in a wide range of bodily processes. This means that a deficiency can easily lead to tiredness and fatigue as these processes simply aren't being carried out efficiently.

  • Contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism.

A cause and effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of magnesium and normal energy-yielding metabolism.

  • Contributes to electrolyte balance.

Soft tissue magnesium functions as a cofactor of many enzymes involved in the maintenance of the electrical potential of nerve tissue and cell membranes.

  • Contributes to normal protein synthesis.

Magnesium is an essential cofactor of enzymes involved in protein synthesis and protein synthesis is reported to be sensitive to magnesium depletion.

Why might you choose to take supplements?

As we have learned, even the FDA admits that the vitamin and mineral levels of our foods have fallen 81 percent over the last 30 years.

Therefore, magnesium supplements are not simply a good idea: they are almost necessary for your good health. By taking magnesium supplements you are ensuring your body is getting this essential nutrient, avoiding a deficiency in magnesium and gaining benefits such as a reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

 Are all Magnesium Supplements Equal?

Magnesium Bisglycinate

Here at Primal Living, we sell magnesium bisglycinate tablets. The benefit of magnesium bisglycinate over alternatives such as magnesium oxide is that it has a stronger bioavailability, which makes it easily absorbed by the body. This form is also the least likely to cause a laxative effect which is common with other types of magnesium. Furthermore, according to a handful of promising studies, bisglycinate potentially can help reduce anxiety and stress.  Research has indicated that people tolerate it well and that it seems to cause minimal to no side effects.

Magnesium oxide

On the other hand, magnesium oxide is typically not a good choice for individuals looking to raise their magnesium levels as studies have found it to be poorly absorbed by the digestive tract. Furthermore, magnesium oxide has a laxative effect which makes it a good option for constipation but for others may just lead to unwanted diarrhoea.

Other types of magnesium

There are plenty of other types of magnesium supplements available such as magnesium citrate which is also popular but also causes unwanted digestive side effects, such as diarrhoea. There are some types of magnesium supplements that can be used on the skin such as magnesium chloride, but this form of magnesium does not absorb as well through the skin.

 

To conclude, magnesium is used in over 300 processes in the human body and yet, probably three quarters of us aren’t getting enough via our diet. This is mainly due to environmental factors, such as vitamin and mineral levels of our foods falling 81 percent over the last 30 years. Magnesium has countless benefits such as contributing to the normal function of healthy bones, teeth, and the nervous system, and therefore supplements are not simply a good idea, they are almost necessary for your good health.

 

References:

* https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324022#The-link-between-magnesium-and-vitamin-D