Magnesium supports general health and wellness. Did you know that magnesium plays a central role in the function of every single gene, cell, and organ in the human body? Yet, over a third of adult Canadians are not getting adequate intakes of magnesium through their diets. In fact, magnesium is among the four nutrients that have the highest inadequate intakes among the population, according to Statistics Canada numbers. (1) Others include calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D.
FUCTIONS OF MAGNESIUM
Magnesium is an essential mineral and a cofactor for hundreds of enzymes. Magnesium is involved in many physiologic pathways, including energy production, nucleic acid and protein synthesis, ion transport, cell signaling, and structural functions.(2,3)
- Energy production
The metabolism of carbohydrates and fats to produce energy requires numerous magnesium-dependent chemical reactions. Magnesium is required by the adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-synthesizing protein in mitochondria. ATP, the molecule that provides energy for almost all metabolic processes, exists primarily as a complex with magnesium (Mg-ATP).
For people who are always tired, or those looking for better sports endurance, it may be worth while looking into magnesium supplements.
- Protein Synthesis
We know that proteins are made of amino acids. But to make a specific protein, there are many enzymes involved to call on specific DNA, copied to RNA, then translated into protein. Magnesium is a cofactor to many of these enzymes. Without magnesium, protein synthesis is impaired.
Impaired protein synthesis leads to Glutathione, an important antioxidant, requires magnesium for its synthesis.
- Ion transport across cell membranes
Magnesium is required for the active transport of ions such as sodium, potassium and calcium across cell membranes. Through its role in ion transport systems, magnesium affects the conduction of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, blood pressure, and normal heart rhythm.
- Cell signaling
Cell signaling requires MgATP (see Energy Production above) for the phosphorylation of proteins and the formation of the cell-signaling molecule, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). cAMP is involved in many processes, including the secretion of parathyroid hormone (PTH) from the parathyroid glands.
- Cell migration
Calcium and magnesium concentrations in cellular fluid affect the migration of several different cell types. Such effects on cell migration may be important in wound healing.
- Structural roles
Magnesium plays a structural role in bone, cell membranes, and chromosomes.
Do I Have Enough Magnesium?
Now you know how important magnesium is, and its wide range of involvement in the body. How do you know if you have enough Magnesium? Yes, you can get a lab test for magnesium. However, blood or urine magnesium levels may not truly reflect the magnesium levels in your body. Most of the magnesium in the body is stored in our bone and soft tissue. Only less than 1% travels through the blood stream. More accurate lab test might be testing for magnesium inside red blood cells. But it may be easier to watch out for signs of magnesium deficiency.
Am I getting enough magnesium from my diet?
Based on the Composition of Foods tracking food nutrient since 1940, there has been an average of 24% decrease in magnesium in vegetables, and 16% decrease in fruits.(4) Modern agricultural practices such as surface irrigation, monoculture, use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers are making it more difficult for the soil to retain magnesium.
Magnesium absorption depends on many variables. If one variable goes awry, Mg deficiency can occur. Mg absorption requires plenty of Mg in the diet, selenium, stomach acid (all of you on acid blockers, you are probably not absorbing magnesium properly), parathyroid hormone (PTH), vitamins B6, and D. Magnesium absorption can also be hindered by excess fat. Mg levels are decreased by excess ethanol, salt, phosphoric acid (sodas), and coffee intake; by profuse sweating, by intense, prolonged stress, and by diuretics and other drugs that cause the kidneys to eliminate more magnesium. Unless all variables are working well, there is little chance that magnesium level will be at optimum.(5.6)
The recommended daily intake of magnesium is 6mg/kg/day. For a 50kg female, this would be 300mg per day. Yet In developed countries, the average intake of magnesium is only slightly over 4 mg/kg/day.(7) ‘Various studies have shown that at least 300 mg magnesium must be supplemented to establish significantly increased serum magnesium concentrations…’(8)
Physical signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency:(6)
• Muscle weakness, spasms and/or cramping: This is due to the role magnesium plays in muscle contraction. This is also the most common and identifiable sign of magnesium issues
• Insulin resistance: Magnesium plays a role in over 300 enzyme systems in the body, including those that control blood sugar
• High blood pressure: Magnesium relaxes blood vessels and thus lowers blood pressure
• Irregular heartbeat: Magnesium plays a role in muscle contraction, and thus contraction of heart muscles and heart rate
• Low HDL (or good cholesterol): This is due to the role of magnesium in the metabolism of fats
• Tingling and numbness: Magnesium plays a role in nerve transmission
• Migraines: Magnesium reduces vasoconstriction, and the intake of magnesium can reduce occurrence of migraines by 40 per cent
How do I get more magnesium?
As mentioned earlier, some foods can block absorption of magnesium. So first, cut back on caffeine, alcohol, and soft drinks. Some foods naturally contain substances that interfere with magnesium absorption. This includes oxalic acid (in kale, swiss chard), and phytic acid (in beans and grains). Gently cook foods with high oxalic acid (e.g. kale, swiss chard) and try not to eat them raw, and soak benas and grains with phytic acid before cooking.
Of course, eat more green leafy vegetables, but try buying organic as much as possible as you have a better change of getting more magnesium.
Nuts are a good source of magnesium. Almonds, cashews and brazil nuts are all very high in magnesium. Brazil nuts has the benefit of being high in selenium as well.
Calcium and iron are minerals use the same ion channel as magnesium for absorption. If you are taking supplements, make sure to take them at separate times.
On supplementation, you have many options. But please read my previous blog post about supplement quality, and make sure you buy a reputable professional brand so you can be certain what you are taking contains what is claimed on the label. Here are some brands that I recommend.
Magnesium ions can also be absorbed through the skin. You may have heard of Magnesium Oil. This is in fact not an oil, but a concentrated magnesium chloride solution. The texture of the solution is very slippery, creating an oil-like texture. Transdermal magnesium absorption varies depending on the individual skin condition and concentration of magnesium solution.(9,10,11) To buy magnesium spray, go to my shop.
Can I have too much Magnesium?
Magnesium toxicity is rare because the body is very competent at regulating magnesium. If you consumed too much magnesium, your digestive tract may not able to absorb the excess, and the excess magnesium leaves the body as it causes diarrhea. If there is too much magnesium in the blood stream, it will be flushed out through the kidneys as urine. Of course, this scenario assumes that you have well functioning digestive tract and kidneys.
According to NIH Office of Supplements, symptoms of magnesium toxicity may include: low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, facial flushing, retention of urine, ileus (lack of movement in the intestine leading to blockage), depression, and lethargy before progressing to muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, extreme hypotension, irregular heartbeat, and cardiac arrest.(10)
Overdose with resultant magnesium toxicity is most often seen in people with poor kidney function after they take medications containing magnesium, such as laxatives or antacids. So, people with kidney disease are cautioned against taking magnesium supplements or medications that contain this mineral. The associated risks are also higher for people with heart disease and gastrointestinal disorders.
Make sure you check with your health care professional, preferably a pharmacist, before taking any supplements and find out if there is any issues with you taking magnesium, if your medications contain magnesium, and which medications will deplete magnesium.
Medicus Wellness Magnesium Topical Spray contains 100mg elemental magnesium/1mL (approximately 5 sprays).
We use pure, pharmaceutical grade magnesium chloride with no contaminants. The solution is a concentrated magnesium chloride solution, and the liquid has an oily feel, hence it is often referred to as Magnesium Oil. Magnesium chloride is an easy-to-absorb form of magnesium that may be able to raise levels of this nutrient within the body when applied topically to the skin.(12)
(2) Rude RK, Shils ME. Magnesium. In: Shils ME, Shike M, Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006:223-247
(3) Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/magnesium
(4) Wanli Guo, Hussain Nazim, Zongsuo Liang, Dongfeng Yang, Magnesium deficiency in plants: An urgent problem, The Crop Journal, Volume 4, Issue 2, 2016, Pages 83-91, ISSN 2214-5141
(5) Gröber U, Schmidt J, Kisters K. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients. 2015;7(9):8199-8226. Published 2015 Sep 23. doi:10.3390/nu7095388
(6) S. Johnson, The multifaceted and widespread pathology of magnesium deficiency, Medical Hypotheses, Volume 56, Issue 2, 2001, Pages 163-170, ISSN 0306-9877, https://doi.org/10.1054/mehy.2000.1133.
(7) Vormann J. Magnesium: nutrition and metabolism. Mol Aspects Med. 2003;24(1-3):27-37. doi:10.1016/s0098-2997(02)00089-4
(8) Engen DJ, McAllister SJ, Whipple MO, et al. Effects of transdermal magnesium chloride on quality of life for patients with fibromyalgia: a feasibility study. J Integr Med. 2015;13(5):306-313. doi:10.1016/S2095-4964(15)60195-9
(9) Dolati S, Rikhtegar R, Mehdizadeh A, Yousefi M. The Role of Magnesium in Pathophysiology and Migraine Treatment. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2020;196(2):375-383. doi:10.1007/s12011-019-01931-z
(11) Durlach J. Recommended dietary amounts of magnesium: Mg RDA. Magnes Res. 1989;2(3):195-203.
(12) Kass L, Rosanoff A, Tanner A, Sullivan K, McAuley W, Plesset M. Effect of transdermal magnesium cream on serum and urinary magnesium levels in humans: A pilot study. PLoS One. 2017;12(4): e0174817. Published 2017 Apr 12. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0174817