Magnesium, the master mineral
Magnesium is about flexibility, energy, electrolytes and alkalising.
It is the master mineral, required by over 300 major enzymes. These enzymes are for almost every body function and process including digestion and assimilation of food, creation of energy, transmission of nerve signals, relaxation of muscle. Calcium contracts muscle and works together with magnesium for muscle function; without magnesium our muscle both skeletal and intestinal would be in a constant state of contraction or spasm.
Literally everyone can benefit from a magnesium supplement but actually most people need to supplement. There are two reasons for this common nutrient deficiency; our food doesn’t have enough magnesium & there are higher demands and more stress on us. A hundred years ago we used to get 500mg daily in food, nowadays its about 150 mg or less due to soil depletion and processing of food. Few farmers, even organic farmers, replenish their soil with magnesium and along with many other nourishing minerals it is bound in the soil by Glyphosate (Roundup) .
Each cell has from 2 to 2000 mitochondria producing ATP, the energy currency of the body. Six of the eight steps in the energy cycle of the cell require magnesium so it’s critical to mitochondrial function for energy, athletic performance, healthy aging and overall good health. Magnesium plays a crucial role in two ways. One is to make an enzyme needed for mitochondrial replication as we gain and maintain fitness. The other is as part of ATP, the energy currency itself. Recent research is showing that optimizing mitochondrial function may be at the core of cancer treatment.
Sources of Magnesium
The best source of nutrients is real food; plants are designed to ingest and break down minerals making them into vital nourishing compounds. Food grown in magnesium rich soil is the ideal. Magnesium is the central atom in the chlorophyll molecule so is found in green vegetables, especially the green leafy vegetables. However the magnesium content of chlorophyll is not large and neither is the chlorophyll content of green leafy vegetables; we’d need to eat a huge amount of very rich foods to obtain enough. If we had a chronic disease or were on medication we simply couldn’t get enough from food.
Dark green leafy vegetables
Raw cacao powder
Also: nuts (Brazils, cashews, almonds), seeds (pumpkin, flaxseed, sesame, sunflower)
An excellent and inexpensive way to get a good daily dose of magnesium is transdermally; putting a suitable magnesium liquid on the skin. Transdermal magnesium spray is becoming popular and widely available. This liquid is a concentrated solution of magnesium chloride in pure water, it’s called magnesium oil because it feels oily on the skin.
There are many different magnesium oil products on the market, which raises the question; which is the best product? There are two answers. First: the best transdermal magnesium is the one you are using… the long term factor here is how it feels on the skin – some are heavy, some are light. Second: they are all good. Some may have other ingredients like MSM (methyl-sulfonyl-methane) or they may be prepared with genuine concern for the purity of the magnesium chloride and the energies in the mix.
Find a spray or roll-on you like and get in the habit of using it daily. Be careful around sensitive skin and cuts because it may really sting for a few minutes!
Spray onto a large area of skin like stomach, back, thighs after showering. It may feel a little oily due to the high concentration of magnesium salts; if this is a problem then spray it on before showering and allow 10 or 15 minutes for it to be absorbed. It may be sprayed onto any painful or problematic areas. Many people have resolved deep, debilitating calcification and degeneration in tendons and joints with this spray. Apply at bedtime to relax muscles and support deep restorative sleep.
Supplements are taken as powders and tablets
Oral magnesium comes in three chemical forms; mineral salts, acid complexes and amino acid chelates.
The powder form is better than a tablet for absorption, although its not quite as handy for dosing and the opened container should be used fairly soon.
There is a limit to how much magnesium the bowel can absorb from oral supplements before the bowel loosens and the excess is expelled. Magnesium is not absorbed unless it is joined to a ‘carrier’ or transporting substance. The chelates are the most effective (and the most expensive) where magnesium is bound to an amino acid (protein) which makes it highly available to the cells. More can be absorbed by dividing the doses into two or three daily.
How much should I take?
Dose: RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is 310 to 420 mg per day, therapeutic range could be from 600 to 900 mg.
Using transdermal products (sprays and creams) will probably give about 100mg and most people feel great benefit from this amount.
If you begin taking a regular magnesium supplement you should begin to resolve many deficiency symptoms. However the benefits may soon fail to continue because the body begins to rebalance around available magnesium and starts to cry out for more. People on medication should be careful with large doses; begin slowly and increase gently. Magnesium will begin to fundamentally re-balance the body; medication may need reducing as recovery begins and medicines may become noticeably toxic.
We need more when we are older and we need as much as we do of calcium. However magnesium is not nearly as prevalent in our diet and it is not as well absorbed or stored as calcium.
Functions of Magnesium
– Creation of ATP, the energy currency of the body
– Activation and rhythm of the heart muscle
– Proper formation of bones and teeth
– Relaxation of blood vessels
– Regulation of blood sugar levels
– Activating muscles and nerves
– Helps digest protein, fats and carbohydrate
– Co-factor for RNA & DNA
– Catalyst for neurotransmitters like serotonin
A diet high in calories but poor in nutrients is a guarantee of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is lost through stress, lack of sleep, alcohol and medications. Also through high levels of some hormones e.g. insulin & estrogen. Digestive problems like Crohn’s and Celiac disease and leaky gut impair magnesium absorption.
If you don’t have enough magnesium the body simply cannot function properly or optimally; low magnesium levels allow deterioration of metabolic function leading to serious health problems. Daily supplementation will bring immediate benefit but a chronic deficiency could take from 6 weeks to 12 months to fully restore.
Fluoride can bind with any magnesium available in the body to form the very hard compound sellaite which is able to replace the magnesium found in bone and cartilage, stiffening tendons & making bones more prone to fracture. Fluoride is in drinking water and 20% of prescription drugs are fluoride compounds or have fluoride added to assist delivery to the cell. The enzyme which regulates cholesterol is magnesium dependent and the cholesterol medication Lipitor contains a fluoride molecule. The anti-arrhythmia drug Flecainide has 6 fluoride molecules. People may go onto Prozac because they appear depressed, are fatigued and not sleeping – Prozac has 3 fluoride molecules.
The medicating of fatigue/anxiety, depression, palpitations, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol without restoring critical deficiencies may create a vicious cycle which depletes magnesium even further and creates deeper problems.
Magnesium status cannot be determined with a blood test as only 1% is in the blood. Bone contains 50 to 60% and the remainder is in soft tissue. So most of the Mg is inside the cells & bone rather than in blood plasma. Testing Red Blood Cells for magnesium is more helpful but this test is not easy to obtain. Hair issue mineral analysis is simple and the results are probably as good as it gets.
Notes on Supplements
Magnesium Chloride: the good old fashioned naturopathic magnesium. It is very soluble in water and well absorbed. Taken orally the taste is very bitter which is impossible to disguise or tolerate for long (it’s disgusting!). This is the magnesium used in the transdermal sprays and gels and is probably as well absorbed as any other form.
Magnesium Phosphate: this is usually found in the tissue salt range of tablets. They are low dose but very effective if well prescribed by your practitioner.
Magnesium Oxide: about 60% magnesium and very commonly found in tablets, even expensive ones. High doses are great for cleaning out the large intestine. The amounts found in supplements are too small to loosen the bowel but it’s poorly absorbed, probably only about 5% of what is on the label.
Magnesium Sulphate: this is the classic Epsom Salt, the form used in bath salts, which is a good way to get magnesium into the body. Buy in bulk and put at least a cupful into a hot bath. Also good for adding magnesium to the garden.
Magnesium Carbonate: this is the ‘chalk’ that weightlifters put on their hands. Fairly well absorbed. It is used as an antacid and as a flow agent in salt.
Acid Complexes and Amino Acid Complexes
Acid complexes: ascorbate, aspartate, citrate, fumarate, gluconate, glutamate, lactate, malate, picolate.
Magnesium Citrate: One of the better supplemental forms, about 11% elemental magnesium most of which is absorbed. The powder is somewhat bitter.
Amino Acid Chelates: A complex where the magnesium is bonded to an amino acid (protein)making this the best absorbed by using protein pathways rather than relying on pure absorption; also the most expensive (diglycinate, glycinate, lysinate, taurate).