Magnesium…Indispensable Yet Underappreciated

Magnesium is one of my favorite minerals.  Compared to its friend calcium, magnesium is severely underappreciated which I think is a shame.

Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions and 600 enzymatic reactions in the body. In addition to supporting  cardiovascular and bone health, energy metabolism, glucose metabolism, mood, sleep, nerve health, muscle relaxation, detoxification and bowel health, researchers are now studying its role in improving cognitive functioning.  It appears that different forms of magnesium have different roles to play.  In my practice, I tend to use three main forms:  glycinate, citrate and malate all for different reasons. Citrate is good for constipation issues, glycinate for blood sugar balancing and malate for muscle pain.  I have recently discovered a fourth form which is threonate.

Magnesium L-threonate is a unique form of magnesium that crosses the blood brain barrier where it increases the synaptic connections between brain cells and improves cell to cell communication. One of the key benefits of increased brain magnesium levels is improved memory. In compelling animal models, magnesium L-threonate improved short-term memory by 18% and long-term memory by 100%.  Neuron.2010 Jan 28;65(2):165-77.

Crave chocolate? Sugar? Alcohol?  Got that annoying eye twitch? Pain in the shoulder blades? Constipation? Leg or foot cramps?  History of kidney stones? PMS? Heart beating out of synch? What do all these have in common? They are all signs of magnesium deficiency.  Why would the body crave chocolate and sugar one might ask? Because both are naturally high in magnesium.  With regard to sugar I am referring to pure sugarcane. If you were to cut off a stalk of sugarcane in the field and suck on the end of it, it would be rich in magnesium, trace minerals, enzymes and b-vitamins.  But instead, most of us are consuming the highly refined, Genetically Modified form (sugar beets are GMO, organic sugarcane is not) that further depletes us of minerals and B vitamins leading to… more sugar cravings!

Many of us are magnesium deficient so if you have any of the above mentioned symptoms/conditions you might benefit from adding more magnesium into your diet. Foods rich in magnesium are: dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yogurt, bananas, dark chocolate, and more. The current daily value (DV) for magnesium is 400mg but you might need more if you have a condition called KPU (Kryptopyrrole Urea) where your body dumps magnesium, B6 and zinc under stressful conditions.  The good news is that it is hard to over dose on magnesium.  The rule of thumb is dose to bowel tolerance (a nice way of saying loose stools).  IF you get diarrhea you have taken too much, constipation (not enough).  For most people that is somewhere around 400-800mg/day in divided doses.  The oxide form is the cheapest and most likely to cause loose stools which is why I don’t use it in my practice.

Last but not least, if you have recently been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, BEFORE you add in calcium make sure you have adequate magnesium (measured thru red blood cells NOT serum levels) vitamin D and Vitamin K on board since the calcium wont be absorbed with these deficiencies.

Off to eat some dark chocolate 🙂





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