Magnesium is essential! Not an overstatement in my books considering this multi-tasking mineral is involved in well over 300 different enzymatic reactions and over 800 different, essential biochemical roles in our body. With approximately 80% of North Americans being deficient in magnesium, it is worth knowing more about.
The Role of Magnesium in Our Systems
One of the most commonly asked questions when I am speaking with people about magnesium is . . . what does magnesium do? Magnesium plays such a fundamental role in our body’s ability to function that narrowing down one effect is not an easy feat. In fact, a complete list of everything magnesium does would be a whole book unto itself and leave most people with their eyes glazed over. However, there are some key functions that provide a nice bite sized chunk of information to expand your understanding about the importance of magnesium.
Magnesium is involved in the production and repair of DNA and RNA as well as many other proteins. Proteins are integral to the structure of our body, including muscles, bone health and teeth. Almost every metabolic function relies on proteins and, in turn, protein synthesis relies on magnesium. The creation, repair and stabilization of DNA and RNA involves a cascade of enzymatic reactions, many of which involve magnesium. So, when you think about the hundreds of billions of cellular divisions that happen daily, you get a glimpse at just how involved magnesium is in our survival.
Nerve impulses, muscle contractions, cell signaling, and the production of cellular energy all involve magnesium. This includes supporting cardiovascular health through the maintenance of a normal heart rhythm and normalizing blood pressure. Energy production throughout the body is also reliant on magnesium, from cellular energy in the form of ATP to the formation of energy from fat and protein.
Magnesium supports a strong immune system. Vitamin D has a well-established role in supporting a strong immune system and magnesium plays a role in the conversion of Vitamin D into its active form. The active form of Vitamin D is the form readily utilized by our body. In addition, one of our body’s most important and powerful antioxidants, glutathione, requires magnesium for synthesis.
A connection that often flies under the radar is the role magnesium plays in the inflammatory process. Magnesium is instrumental in reducing C-reactive protein, a protein produced in the liver and used as a marker for inflammation. A deficiency in magnesium can result in the release of inflammatory cytokines into our blood and trigger release of C-reactive protein in our liver. Keeping our C-reactive protein low has health benefits across the board.
The wide range of actions and health benefits of magnesium also include assistance for sleep, calcium balance, relief of muscle cramps, supporting blood sugar regulation, and the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. Now that you have an idea of what magnesium does, let’s examine what a deficiency looks like.
What Does a Magnesium Deficiency Look Like?
Many people are deficient in magnesium but totally unaware of it. Unlike iron or many other vitamins and minerals, magnesium levels are not commonly tested. Testing for magnesium is a bit more involved since most magnesium is stored in our bones and soft muscle tissue, with only about 1% circulating in our blood. Low levels of magnesium are most often determined through the observation of signs or symptoms. If you are curious about what they might be, keep reading. We have included a list below of some of the more common signs and symptoms of low magnesium.
**We do ask you to remember that even though you may be experiencing a sign or symptom, it does not diagnose a deficiency. The list is meant as a way to observe and keep track, to provide a possibility but check with your physician should you be concerned.
Benefits of Supplementing with Magnesium
As with the different roles that magnesium plays in the body, the benefits are also wide ranging. Some of the health conditions that can benefit from magnesium include cardiovascular disease, asthma, headaches and migraines, osteoporosis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), painful menstrual cramps and fibromyalgia. This is by no means an exhaustive list but a great place to start.
Rather than looking at it from a condition angle, we can also approach this from a more personal angle. Who can benefit from supplementation of magnesium?
- Athletes – sweating increases magnesium loss
- individuals with a poor diet - low in whole grains and greens
- those who use antacids, acid blocking medications, or other prescription medications that can deplete magnesium, for example proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
- people suffering from diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or fibromyalgia
- those with trouble sleeping or insomnia
- women suffering from PMS or painful menstrual cramps
- with approximately 80% of the population deficient in magnesium – most of us can benefit
Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Whole Food Magnesium
Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Whole Food Magnesium provides your daily supplemental magnesium the way nature intends. In nature, most minerals we absorb are chelated or attached to proteins (chains of amino acids). Examples of this include the calcium and zinc obtained from milk and cheese, heme-iron obtained from chicken or beef, and magnesium obtained from whole grains and leafy greens. Chelated minerals can yield up to 6 times the absorption rate of non-chelated minerals. Garden of Life provides magnesium bound to the amino acids in organic brown rice increasing its absorption rate. One teaspoon of Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Whole Food Magnesium provides 350mg of magnesium.
Warning . . . potty talk ahead! People are often concerned that a magnesium supplement will send them straight to the bathroom. Regardless of the form, if you are not used to taking a magnesium supplement, try starting low and slow. Start with 50-100mg in the evening and work your way up to a full dose. The more you absorb, the less remains to end up in your bowels and the gentler it is on your system. Choosing a highly absorbable form such as a chelated magnesium gives you a gentler option straight away.
Garden of Life maintains high standards in sourcing and in production of their products. Our magnesium is no exception. Along with the easily absorbed form in two great flavours, you can be assured by the other certifications such as Non-GMO Project Verified, Vegan Certified, NSF, Gluten free certified, sugar free and Star K Kosher. Garden of Life also includes their probiotic blend which provides a great compliment to overall digestive health.
Garden of Life magnesium easily mixes into a fizzy drink in either orange or raspberry lemon flavour. However, feel free to mix it up a bit with some of the recipes from the Garden of Life recipe archives such as Relaxing Orange Cocoa, Warm Rosemary Orange Comfort or Raspberry Lemon Night-time Tea. You may even decide to get creative and knock out some Sour Blue Raspberry Magnesium Gummies. Whichever way you choose, take a magnesium moment and try incorporating more magnesium into your daily routine.
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Kass L, Weekes J, Carpenter L. Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2012 Apr;66(4):411-8. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2012.4. Epub 2012 Feb 8.
Liana C Del Gobbo, Fumiaki Imamura, Jason HY Wu, Marcia C de Oliveira Otto, Stephanie E Chiuve, Dariush Mozaffarian, Circulating and dietary magnesium and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 98, Issue 1, July 2013, Pages 160–173, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.053132
Rosique-Esteban, N.; Guasch-Ferré, M.; Hernández-Alonso, P.; Salas-Salvadó, J. Dietary Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review with Emphasis in Epidemiological Studies. Nutrients 2018, 10, 168. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10020168
Joris et al. Long-term magnesium supplementation improves arterial stiffness in overweight and obese adults: results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 May;103(5):1260-6.
Kazaks AG et al. Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on measures of airway resistance and subjective assessment of asthma control and quality of life in men and women with mild to moderate asthma: a randomized placebo controlled trial. J Asthma. 2010 Feb;47(1):83-92.
Kew KM, Kirtchuk L, Michell CI. Intravenous magnesium sulfate for treating adults with acute asthma in the emergency department. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD010909. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010909.pub2.
Headaches and Migraines
Mauskop and Varughese. Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. Neural Transm (Vienna). 2012 May;119(5):575-9.
Chiu et al. Effects of Intravenous and Oral Magnesium on Reducing Migraine: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Pain Physician.2016 Jan;19(1)E97-112.
Zheng, J., Mao, X., Ling, J. et al. Association Between Serum Level of Magnesium and Postmenopausal Osteoporosis: A Meta-analysis. Biol Trace Elem Res 159, 8–14 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12011-014-9961-3
Fathizadeh N, Ebrahimi E, Valiani M, Tavakoli N, Yar MH. Evaluating the effect of magnesium and magnesium plus vitamin B6 supplement on the severity of premenstrual syndrome. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2010;15: 401–405.
Bagis et al. Is magnesium citrate treatment effective on pain, clinical parameters and functional status in patients with fibromyalgia? Rheumatol Int. 2013 Jan;33(1):167-72. doi: 10.1007/s00296-011-2334-8. Epub 2012 Jan 22.