Magnesium (Mg) is an essential mineral for optimal health. Recent reports indicate that many of us are actually magnesium deficient. This deficiency can trigger the following conditions:
- Anxiety and Panic attacks- Magnesium keeps adrenal stress hormones under control.
- Asthma- Both histamine production and bronchial spasms increase with Mg deficiency.
- Blood clots- Mg has an important role to play in preventing blood clots and keeping the blood thin-much like aspirin but without the side effects.
- Bowel disease- Mg deficiency slows down the bowel causing constipation, which could lead to toxicity and malabsorption of nutrients, as well as colitis.
- Cystitis- Bladder spasms are worsened by Mg deficiency.
- Depression-Serotonin, which elevates moods, is dependent on Mg. A Mg-deficient brain is also more susceptible to allergens, foreign substances that can cause symptoms similar to mental illness.
- Detoxification- Mg is crucial for the removal of toxic substances and heavy metals such as aluminum and lead.
- Diabetes- Mg enhances insulin secretion, facilitating sugar metabolism. Without Mg insulin is not able to transfer glucose into cells. Glucose and insulin build up in the blood causing various types of tissue damage.
- Fatigue- Mg-deficient patients commonly experience fatigue because dozens of enzyme systems are under-functioning. An early symptom of Mg deficiency is frequently fatigue.
- Heart disease- Mg deficiency is common in people with heart disease. Mg is administered in hospitals for acute myocardial infarction and cardiac arrhythmia. Like any other muscle, the heart muscle requires Mg. Mg is also used to treat angina, or chest pain.
- Hypertension- With insufficient Mg, spasm of blood vessels and high cholesterol occur, both of which lead to blood pressure problems.
- Hypoglycemia- Mg keeps insulin under control; without Mg episodes of low blood sugar can result.
- Insomnia- Sleep-regulating melatonin production is disturbed without sufficient Mg.
- Kidney Disease- Mg deficiency contributes to atherosclerotic kidney failure. Mg deficiency creates abnormal lipid levels and worsening blood sugar control in kidney transplant patients.
- Liver Disease leading to liver failure- Mg deficiency commonly occurs during liver transplantation.
- Migraine- Serotonin balance is Mg-dependent. Deficiency of serotonin can result in migraine headaches and depression.
- Musculoskeletal conditions- Fibrositis, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, eye twitches, cramps and chronic neck and back pain may be caused by Mg deficiency and can be relieved with Mg supplements.
- Nerve problems- Mg alleviates peripheral nerve disturbances throughout the whole body, such as migraines, muscle contractions, gastrointestinal spasms, and calf, foot and toe cramps. It is also used in treating central nervous symptoms of vertigo and confusion.
It appears obvious that magnesium supplementation can help prevent and even treat these conditions however what form of supplementation is best? Oral supplements are by far the most popular but are they the most effective?
The first problem with oral administration is that it can produce a laxative side effect at therapeutic doses. The dose required to correct this deficiency is 200 to 400mg of elemental magnesium daily, and in some cases up to 800mg which can be difficult to achieve due to loose watery stools. Another problem with oral magnesium is that it is poorly absorbed. There are many forms of oral magnesium which vary in degree of bioavailability – that is the amount you actually absorb from the tablet. Studies show that magnesium oxide is the worst form of magnesium with only 4% bioavailability, this has been attributed to its poor water solubility, while other forms such as the citrate and amino acid chelates (glycinate) are much higher, however even in healthy people only 35 to 40% of magnesium at best will ever be absorbed. This low absorption is because magnesium is absorbed primarily in the distal small intestines or colon. Active uptake is required involving various transport systems such as the vitamin D-sensitive transport system. Since magnesium is not passively absorbed it demonstrates saturable absorption resulting in bioavailability averaging 35-40% of administered dose even under the best conditions of intestinal health. And there is good evidence that magnesium absorption depends upon the mineral remaining in the intestine at least 12 hours. If intestinal transit time is less than 12 hours, magnesium absorption is impaired, and this is the case when high does of oral magnesium are administered. In addition a magnesium deficiency inhibits the body’s ability to absorb magnesium. This is an idiosyncracy of magnesium. Once the intracellular level gets low enough to cause symptoms, in some people, the intestinal lining loses its ability to absorb magnesium efficiently.
Magnesium citrate or Magnesium glycinate are the forms you should look for when purchasing a magnesium supplement to ensure your getting the most out of it.