In the fast paced, bustling world we live in today, and with information overload about which nutrients we should be taking, it's easy to overlook the importance of essential minerals in our diets. One such unsung hero mineral of well-being, is that of magnesium.
Magnesium is not just another nutrient; it is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in over 300 enzymatic bodily processes. Sounds impressive, right? Although I can sense a few people raising their eyebrows and questioning ‘what the heck are enzymatic processes’?
Enzymes assist with countless chemical reactions in the body, helping to break down substances such as the food we eat into smaller pieces so that our bodies can absorb the nutrients. They help build new molecules, such as the construction of proteins essential for muscle development, tissue repair, hormone production, and numerous other biological functions. Simply put, Enzymes have unique capabilities to speed up and control chemical reactions that keep our bodies functioning optimally.
Magnesium's presence is crucial to enzyme performance, acting as co-factor ‘extra amazing helper’ in carrying out many bodily functions effectively. The benefits for obtaining enough Magnesium are therefore obvious. Magnesium helps with more restful sleep, to reduce anxiety, maintain good heart health, support energy production and the list goes on. It’s a true superhero for our bodies and minds. From its elusive presence in our diets to the wondrous universe of magnesium supplements, let's dive in and uncover the hidden secrets of this elemental hero.
WHAT IS MAGNESIUM?
Ah, magnesium! A chemical element found abundantly in the Earth's crust and the twelfth most abundant element in the human body. But where does it come from; you ask? Picture this: while stars explode in supernovas, they scatter magnesium and other cosmic goodies across the galaxy. Eventually, these elements find their way to Earth, where they contribute to the rich soil that nourishes our plants and nurtures life. Magnesium (Mg), an alkaline earth metal, has been essential for the origin of life on our planet. Without it, we would not be here today.
"From the soil to our plates, the depletion of magnesium in our diets has left a void that cannot be overlooked"
IS IT TRUE ABOUT MAGNESIUM DEPLETION IN OUR FOODS?
In our fast-paced, convenience-driven lifestyles, our diets have undergone a drastic transformation. Unfortunately, this shift has had unintended consequences, leading to a decline in the magnesium content of our meals.
The story of magnesium deficiency begins with the soil. In the past, nutrient-rich soils provided us with an ample supply of magnesium through the crops we consumed. However, modern agricultural practices, such as excessive use of chemical fertilizers, have stripped the soil of essential minerals, including magnesium. As a result, even our wholesome fruits and vegetables are no longer as rich in magnesium as they once were.
According to a well-known study on food in the UK by McCance and Widdowson (1a), the mineral content in fruits, vegetables, milk, and meat has significantly decreased over the past 70 years.
For example, nowadays you would need to eat four carrots to get the same amount of magnesium that was present in just one carrot back in 1940. Overall, vegetables have lost about 24% of their magnesium content, and carrots alone have seen a reduction of 75% in magnesium content. Broccoli has lost 75% of its calcium, spinach has lost 53% of its potassium, and 60% of its iron.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN CAUSES OF MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY?
Despite its celestial origins, we're not getting enough magnesium to meet our daily needs. The main causes of Vitamin D deficiency are:
FOOD - Eating processed and refined meals can contain up to 80% less magnesium. Cooking, particularly boiling meals, high in magnesium, will cause significant magnesium loss. (1b)
SOIL - Magnesium content of plants has seriously declined in recent decades, partly due to poor soil quality and contamination.
LIFESTYLE - Stress, consumption of alcohol, and caffeine affect absorption.
AGE - Our kidneys excrete more minerals as we age and our stomach's acidity changes which can impair absorption by as much as 30% (1c)
CONDITIONS - Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or type II diabetes impair nutrient absorption, increases the body’s need for magnesium or deplete the body’s mineral reserves (1d)
MEDICINES - Some medicines such as antacids, antibiotics, antihistamines, blood pressure drugs, diuretics, and more can reduce our magnesium levels.
SUPPLEMENTS - Taking cheap, poorly absorbed inorganic magnesium, containing synthetic ingredients and binding agents will hinder absorption.
It is estimated that between up to 15% of the UK population could be deficient in magnesium, which can lead to serious health problems like osteoporosis, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes if not addressed. However, according to an ongoing annual survey conducted by the UK Government and the Food Standards Agency, a larger proportion of adults, are sub-clinically deficient, meaning they could be suffering from milder symptoms of magnesium deficiency.
MAGNESIUM RICH FOOD SOURCES AND DAILY REQUIREMENTS?
As an essential mineral, we cannot produce magnesium in our body, we need to obtain it from the food and water we consume daily.
Nature's bounty of leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes are the treasure troves of magnesium. To give you a taste, imagine a day where you kickstart your morning with a bowl of oatmeal topped with almonds, followed by a colourful lunch salad sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. For dinner, indulge in a delicious feast of spinach and salmon, and voila! You've achieved a magnesium-rich food plan.
How Much Magnesium do I need? Your body retains approximately 25-30 mg of magnesium, with 60% of that amount being kept in your bones, the remaining 39% in your muscles, and 1% in your blood serum.
The EU recommends a daily dietary intake of
Men = 350 mg/day
Women = 300 mg/day
Children = 170 to 300 mg/day according to age.
The amount of magnesium consumed is influenced by the magnesium content of the water, with the highest levels found in hard water, and that of food composition.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH & WELL-BEING BENEFITS OF MAGNESIUM?
Magnesium plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, and its deficiency has been associated with several health-related issues.
Here's a closer look at how achieving sufficient magnesium intake can help support and improve specific concerns:
Calms Restless Legs and helps improve Sleep:
Magnesium is known to have positive effects on sleep and can help alleviate restless legs syndrome (RLS). It works by regulating certain neurotransmitters involved in sleep, like melatonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) Magnesium increases GABA levels, which promotes relaxation and calmness, leading to improved sleep. (2a)
A study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences discovered that magnesium supplements greatly enhanced sleep quality in older adults with insomnia. Another trial involving 4,000 adults found that higher magnesium intake was associated with better sleep quality and longer sleep duration. (2b) In summary, magnesium has the potential to improve sleep and alleviate symptoms of restless legs.
Alleviates Anxiety and Depression: Studies have indicated a potential link between magnesium deficiency and increased anxiety and mood disorders. Magnesium is involved in the regulation of stress response and the production of neurotransmitters that influence mood, such as serotonin. By ensuring optimal magnesium levels, individuals may experience reduced anxiety and improved mood. A 6-week study in 126 people showed that taking 248 mg of magnesium per day decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety, regardless of magnesium status (2c)
In another study in 3,172 adults, it associated increased magnesium intake with a lower risk of depression and anxiety (2d)
Improves Energy & Mood: Magnesium is involved in energy production at the cellular level, particularly in the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body's primary energy molecule. By supporting energy metabolism, magnesium can contribute to increased energy levels and combat feelings of fatigue. Furthermore, magnesium is essential for the proper functioning of neurotransmitters and receptors associated with mood regulation, potentially leading to enhanced overall mood. A study published in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition found that magnesium supplementation in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome improved energy levels and reduced symptoms of depression.
Healthy Heart - Magnesium supports the health of the heart in several ways. Magnesium helps relax and dilate the blood vessels, which improves blood flow and reduces strain on the heart. Furthermore, magnesium supports the production of energy within the heart muscle cells, ensuring their efficient contraction and optimal cardiac performance. Studies have suggested that adequate magnesium levels may help lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, especially with those with type 2 diabetes (2e) by increasing good and lowering bad cholesterol levels, as well as reducing blood pressure.
Reduces Inflammation - Inflammation, which is a major factor in ageing and chronic disease, is associated to low magnesium intake (2f)
Magnesium supplementation reduced levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a sign of inflammation, in persons with chronic inflammation, according to a review of 11 studies (2g)
Similar results have been reported by other research, which suggest that taking magnesium supplements may lower CRP and other inflammatory indicators including interleukin-6
Strengthens Bone Health - That's right, you can thank Magnesium for your p
Findings from a recent clinical trial suggested that optimal magnesium status may be important for optimizing 25-hydroxyvitamin D status. This study included 180 subjects aged 40–85 y who were randomly assigned to receive a customized dose of magnesium glycinate supplementation that would reduce the calcium-to‑magnesium intake ratio to ~2.3 based on their baseline calcium and magnesium intakes, according to previous result (2h)
it is known that dietary intake of magnesium has a beneficial role in inflammation and oxidative stress, both risk factors for osteoporosis: it is therefore reasonable to assume a protective effect of magnesium on conceivable osteoporotic fractures (2i), (2j).
Increases Exercise Performance - Magnesium helps move blood sugar into your muscles and dispose of lactate, which can build up during exercise and cause fatigue (2k). Studies show that magnesium supplements may be particularly beneficial for improving exercise performance in older adults and those with a deficiency in this nutrient.
Alleviates Menopause symptom - Menopause, a natural transition marking the end of a woman's reproductive years, brings about a myriad of hormonal changes that can lead to a range of uncomfortable symptoms. While this phase is unique for every woman, many find solace in the power of magnesium. The contributions of magnesium to the field of women’s health are far reaching, spanning effects on PMS to menopause. Magnesium supplementation has shown promise in treating PMS and menstrual migraines, hot flashes, and balancing hormonal fluctuations, as well as improving sleep, bone health, and mood, as already covered in this article (2l)
Lessens Hot flashes and night sweats are notorious hallmarks of menopause, causing discomfort and disrupting sleep for many women. Magnesium's role in regulating body temperature and supporting the nervous system may provide relief from these symptoms.
Magnesium influences hormone production and metabolism, helping to balance hormonal fluctuations during menopause. A study published in the journal Magnesium Research demonstrated that magnesium supplementation modulated hormone levels, including oestrogen and progesterone, leading to improved symptom management in menopausal women.
Healthy Blood Sugar levels - According to studies, 48% of persons with type 2 diabetes have low amounts of magnesium in their blood, which may make it more difficult for the body to efficiently control blood sugar levels (2m), (2n). Magnesium participates in the release and activity of insulin, contributing to the proper utilization of glucose by the body.
Another aspect which often coexists with type 2 diabetes is Metabolic syndrome. Research published in the journal Diabetes & Metabolism showed that magnesium supplementation is found to have a positive impact on the components of metabolic syndrome where it improved insulin sensitivity, reduced blood pressure, and improved lipid profiles in individuals (2n)
Metabolic Syndrome Management - Metabolic syndrome often coexists with type 2 diabetes and is characterized by a cluster of conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, abnormal lipid profiles, and insulin resistance. Magnesium has been found to have a positive impact on the components of metabolic syndrome (2o). Research published in the journal Diabetes & Metabolism showed that magnesium supplementation improved insulin sensitivity, reduced blood pressure, and improved lipid profiles in individuals with metabolic syndrome.
Now that you're well-versed in magnesium's positive health impact benefits, it's time to look out how we can make sure we are obtaining enough of this essential mineral. The reality is, unless we have the time to plan means, look at the foods we are eating and gauge their Magnesium content and ensure we achieving a daily a rich magnesium diet, you will probably fall short of obtaining enough. This is one nutrient, that in order to make sure you are obtaining enough, you should probably explore the magnificent world of Magnesium Supplements!
WHICH MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENTS ARE BEST?
Ah, the wonders of supplements! When our diet alone cannot provide sufficient magnesium, supplements come to the rescue. But first, let's understand the different types of magnesium. We have magnesium oxide, citrate, glycinate, and many more. Here's an overview of different types of magnesium and their respective benefits, absorption, and bioavailability:
- Magnesium Citrate: Benefits: Magnesium citrate is commonly used for its laxative properties, making it effective for relieving constipation. It can help promote bowel movement and alleviate occasional constipation. Absorption and Bioavailability: Magnesium citrate is generally well-absorbed and has good bioavailability. It has a moderate absorption rate meaning it is absorbed efficiently by the bod
- Magnesium Oxide: Benefits: Magnesium oxide is often used as a magnesium supplement to support overall magnesium levels. It can help with muscle function and energy production as well as constipation. Absorption and Bioavailability: Magnesium oxide has a low absorption rate compared to other forms of magnesium meaning the body may not utilize it as effectively.
- Magnesium Glycinate: Benefits: Magnesium glycinate is known for its calming effects and its potential benefits for sleep support, relaxation, and stress reduction. It is often preferred for individuals seeking to improve sleep quality and manage anxiety. It can also be used to treat PMS symptoms, memory loss, migraines, and muscle cramps. Magnesium Glycinate, or Bisglycinate, has a high absorption rate and bioavailability by the body, which means it is efficiently utilised.
- Magnesium L-Threonate: Benefits: Magnesium L-threonate has gained attention for its potential cognitive benefits. It is believed to cross the blood-brain barrier more effectively than other forms of magnesium, and some studies suggest it may support cognitive function, memory, and brain health. It has a good absorption rate and bioavailability and is well-absorbed by the body.
- Magnesium Taurate: Benefits: Magnesium taurate combines magnesium with the amino acid taurine, which has its own health benefits. This form of magnesium may support cardiovascular health, help regulate blood pressure, and provide anti-inflammatory effects. Magnesium taurate has good absorption and bioavailability, and both magnesium and taurine are well-absorbed by the body. This combination allows for the potential benefits of both compounds.
There are in total 15 different forms of Magnesium. It's important to note that individual responses to different forms of magnesium may vary. Factors such as dosage, individual magnesium needs, and existing health conditions can influence the effectiveness and absorption of each form. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help determine the most suitable form and dosage of magnesium for your specific needs.
Our star player in this line up is magnesium bisglycinate, known for its superior absorption and if wanting to achieve optimum absorption and bioavailability, choose a Liposomal liquid form. Liposomes, wrap the magnesium in tiny little bubbles, and deliver it efficiently via the lymphatic system, which is the most effective oral delivery route into the body. Unhindered by normal absorption controls Liposomes target deliver nutrients into your cells.
WHEN SHOULD YOU TAKE MAGNESIUM?
- Spread Out the Dosage: If you need to take a higher dosage of magnesium, it's often recommended to split the dosage throughout the day rather than taking it all at once. This approach helps optimise absorption and minimize the potential for gastrointestinal discomfort, as magnesium can have a laxative effect, especially with magnesium sources from citrate and oxide.
- With Meals: Taking magnesium supplements with meals is a common practice but this is not essential, however with some magnesium supplements, the presence of food in the stomach can aid in the absorption and help reduce the likelihood of digestive issues. If taking on an empty stomach then look to choose a Liposomal liquid form of magnesium as this can be well absorbed, with or without food.
- Before Bedtime: Many individuals find that taking magnesium before bedtime can have relaxing effects and promote better sleep quality. This is especially true of Glycinate or Bisglycinate forms, which can support muscle relaxation and calm the nervous system, for individuals experiencing sleep difficulties or restlessness. However, individual responses may vary, so it's recommended to experiment with different timings to determine what works best for you.
As we have explored throughout this blog, magnesium plays a vital role in numerous bodily functions, from supporting a healthy heart and promoting restful sleep to aiding in energy production and maintaining strong bones. Given its significance, it is crucial that we prioritise ensuring adequate intake of this essential mineral.
By incorporating magnesium-rich foods into our diets, considering high-quality magnesium supplementation, and consulting with healthcare professionals, we can harness the benefits of magnesium and pave the way for improved overall health, vitality, and well-being. Let's embrace the power of magnesium and give our bodies the support they deserve for a thriving and fulfilling life.