Magnesium supplements can help the body in numerous ways

Marvellous magnesium

Magnesium is one of my top ten favourite nutrients in nutritional medicine.

I take a dose of magnesium fairly regularly at bedtime for sleep, muscle tension and to help regulate blood pressure and heart rate. It is easy, beneficial and safe for most people.

Magnesium is a bright white or silver alkali earth mineral that has an atomic number of 12 and an atomic mass of 24 grams. Magnesium has a plus two positive ionic charge. Magnesium is bound with other compounds to form a magnesium complex. The many forms of magnesium used as supplements in nutritional medicine include magnesium bound to aspartate, carbonate, citrate, glycinate or biglycinate, hydroxide, malate, orotate, oxide and threonate. Other forms that exist in nature and are also used as magnesium supplements.

There is little clear data to suggest the superiority of one type of magnesium over another. Some studies show magnesium carbonate, oxide and hydroxide forms have poor absorption and are better suited to help relax bowel muscle. Other forms of magnesium like bisglycinate, citrate, malate and threonate are similar in absorption profiles and are more a matter of patient preference than outright superior benefit.

The trouble with magnesium is a lot of people don’t get enough in their diet. A recent American dietary survey discovered that close to 50% of the adult population does not get enough magnesium to meet RDA requirements.

Many foods contain magnesium. Nuts and seeds including almonds, cashews, chia seeds and peanuts contain rich amounts of magnesium. Other foods like beans and legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains and vegetables dairy products contain some magnesium.

The adult RDA or recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 350 milligrams for an adult woman and 400 milligrams for an adult man. The adult human body contains an average of 25 grams of magnesium.

Magnesium is generally believed to be involved in more than 300 different biochemical reactions in the human body. It is used in multiple energy production pathways inside cells and is involved in DNA repair and synthesis. It is also involved in muscle contraction throughout the body, including the heart.

Magnesium is important in proper nerve conduction.

Sixty percent of all magnesium in the body is stored in bone, 39% in muscles and one percent in other tissues like blood, the brain, the kidneys and the liver. Blood levels of magnesium are tightly regulated and may not be a true representation of body stores.

Signs of magnesium deficiency include fatigue, constipation, muscle cramps and pains, heart arrhythmias and palpitation, numbness and tingling and seizures.

A lot of people diagnosed with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia attest to the benefit of magnesium supplementation. It can not only help energy levels, but can also help muscle cramps and pains in many patients.

Magnesium is a safe and relatively non-habituating laxative for constipation. It helps relax bowel muscles and attracts water to the colon. For long-term use, it is much safer to take than other laxatives that contain Cascara and Senna derivatives and it can be easily and safely mixed with other non-cathartic agents like fibre, stool softeners such as docusate sodium and osmotic laxatives like PEG or Restoralax.

Magnesium is especially good for nocturnal restless legs and many patients claim it reduces spasms and severity of leg pain. It also works well with calcium supplementation.

It may also help to relax bronchial muscle and may be used as an adjunct therapy in asthma and other conditions of bronchoconstriction.

A good nutrient for the heart muscle magnesium can help reduce heart irritability, heart palpitations and high blood pressure and is used in hospital settings to aid in recovery after heart surgery and to help reduce certain heart arrhythmias. Many people with benign heart palpitations report benefit with magnesium supplementation.

Magnesium can also help to treat migraine and tension headaches. Because it helps to relax muscles, it can help blood vessels in the brain, scalp and neck. Magnesium can also be beneficial for patients with seizures.

Very safe to take, the elemental dose of magnesium per supplement type is important. A daily elemental dose to meet 50% to 100% of the RDA is OK to take. For some patients, taking double the RDA can be tolerated quite well. I seldom recommend doses higher than that without medical advice.

Usually, the most common side effects of too much magnesium are diarrhea and loose stools. Some people are sensitive to even small amounts of supplemental magnesium and their doses should be adjusted accordingly. Older individuals and those with kidney impairment should get advice before supplementing with magnesium.

As a rule, do not take magnesium supplements at the same time as prescription medicines.

Magnesium is a vital mineral in human health with a multiplicity of different functions and benefits. It is also a very common nutritional deficiency and supplementation can be very beneficial to human health.

The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute medical advice. All information and content are for general information purposes only.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Doug Lobay is a practicing naturopathic physician in Kelowna, British Columbia.

He graduated with a bachelor of science degree from the University of British Columbia in 1987 and then attended Bastyr College of Natural Health Sciences in Seattle, Washington, where graduated with a doctorate in naturopathic medicine degree in 1991. While attending Bastyr College, he began to research the scientific basis of naturopathic medicine. 

He was surprised to find many of the current major medical journals abounded with scientific information on the use of diet, vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbal medicines.

Doug is a member of the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia and has practiced as naturopathic family physician for more than 30 years.  He maintains a busy practice in Kelowna where he sees a wide age range of patients with various ailments.

He focuses on dietary modification, allergy testing, nutritional assessments, supplement recommendation for optimal health, various physical therapy modalities, various intravenous therapies including chelation therapy.

An avid writer, he has written seven books on various aspects of naturopathic medicine that are available on Amazon and was also a long-time medical contributor to the Townsend Letter journal for doctors and patients, where many of his articles are available to view on-line. He has also given numerous lectures, talks and has taught various courses on natural medicine.

Doug enjoys research, writing and teaching others about the virtues of natural health and good nutrition. When not working, he enjoys cycling, hiking, hockey, skiing, swimming, tennis and playing guitar.

If you have any further questions or comments, you can contact Dr. Lobay at 250-860-7622 or [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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