He’s getting enough magnesium, are you?


When consulting patients at my functional medicine practice, I am finding many people are deficient or insufficient in magnesium. Some are taking magnesium, though they are not sure why, and some are also just taking a poor form of magnesium.


Magnesium is important for over 300 different chemical reactions in the body including blood sugar control, blood pressure regulation, muscles and nerve function, and protein synthesis. It is there to help stabilize ATP, which is the only molecule in our body that does work. Every piece of food we eat is eventually turned into energy called, ATP, and magnesium helps us use that energy. It plays an important role in bones and cell membranes to help transports ions across the membrane.


Studies show people of all ages are ingesting less magnesium than the recommended intake. On average, adults should be consuming close to 400mg a day of magnesium from food, and that is just to prevent disease. We absorb about 30% to 40% of magnesium from food. This is of course is if you are not taking medications, have a perfect gut without any malabsorption issues such as Celiac Disease or Crohns Disease, and if our minerals in our soil were optimal, which unfortunately our soils are becoming depleted of minerals. So basically, if you are not supplementing with magnesium, you probably are not getting enough.


Symptoms of magnesium deficiency/insufficiency include:


– Muscle aches and pains
– Muscle twitches (face especially) and cramps
– Poor sleep and stress
– Fatigue
– Heart arrhythmias
– Constipation
– Nausea and acid reflux


Diseases associated with a magnesium deficiency:


– High blood pressure
– Anxiety
– Type 2 Diabetes
– Osteoporosis
– Migraines
– Hypothyroidism
– Heart arrhythmias
– Many more…


How to measure a magnesium deficiency?


There are a few ways to measure if someone is deficient although accurate results are hard to come by as most of the magnesium is stored in our bones and in our tissues. So by getting a serum magnesium test or even a red blood cell magnesium test, doesn’t necessarily rule out that you have sufficient levels. But if the levels are low, it’s a good indicator your magnesium is low. Its better to just go off of symptoms and someone’s health history.


Quality food sources of magnesium:


– Nuts and Seeds
– Leafy greens like swiss chard, beet greens, spinach
– Legumes
– Avocados


Here is a simple chart of some high quality foods and the amount of magnesium it contains.


Spinach 156mg/cup Flax seed 27 mg/ tbsp
Swiss Chard 150mg/cup Quinoa, cooked 118mg/ cup
Beet Greens 97mg/cup Black beans 120mg/ cup
Pumpkin Seeds 190mg/ ¼ cup Almonds 61mg/ cup
Sesame Seeds 126mg/ ¼ cup Summer Squash 41mg/ cup
Brazil Nuts 125mg/ ¼ cup Kidney beans 74mg/ cup
Cashews 117mg/ ¼ cup Sunflower Seeds 113mg/ ¼ cup
Avocado 58mg/ fruit Navy beans 96mg/ cup
Cocoa Powder 27mg/ tbsp Scallops 42mg/ 4oz

If needed, which supplement should you choose?


Supplementing with 300-800mg may be necessary, just be careful of diarrhea as magnesium supplementation can cause that to occur.  It is important to realize not all supplements are created equal, and its important to get your supplements professional grade companies that source high quality ingredients with less additives and good manufacturing standards.


1. Magnesium Glycinate


This is the most common supplement I recommend. It is easily absorbed into the body, making it easier on the bowels. I will use this to help with muscle spasms, muscle twitches and cramps, as well as poor sleep, cardiovascular support, and stress relief.


2. Magnesium Malate


This another common supplement that is easily absorbed in the body and easy on the bowels. This form is useful when wanting to combine magnesium and energy or muscle pains as malate is also found in the Krebs cycle which is used to produce ATP.


3. Magnesium Citrate


This form is a common form found at many healthfood stores. This is helpful for those who are constipated as its absorption is not as good as the malate and glycinate forms.


4. Magnesium Threonate


This is another form with great bioavailability. This form can be used to support the nervous system, sleep, stress relief, and brain health.


5. Magnesium Oxide


This is actually a very common magnesium that is in many supplements. Unfortunately, its levels of absorption and utility are quite poor, so not one I recommend.


6. Magnesium Sulfate


Better known as Epsom salt, some people will use this for bowel health as well, but I usually recommend this as a soaking aid for injuries as it helps draw out of the inflammation associated with the injury.


Medications that may reduce/deplete magnesium in your body:


-Water pills, diuretics (Lasix, furosemide, thiazides) used mainly for blood pressure
-Proton Pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Protonix)- used as antacids
-Anti-inflammatories- predinisone
-Antibiotics- neomycin
-Birth control


Magnesium may interfere with some medications as well so speak with your provider about your medications and magnesium.

What has been your success with different magnesium supplementation and consumption?  Let me hear from you below.

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The information provided by Colorado Center for Functional Medicine is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. All testimonials are specific experiences of specific clients and no similar results are implied or guaranteed for other individuals. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. Colorado Center for Functional Medicine is not a replacement for your primary care doctor and works in conjunction with your healthcare team.