We all hope that food is our ultimate medicine, but given the variables of food processing, manufacturing and farming, food sometimes cannot give us all the answers. Such is the case when it comes to magnesium. This important micronutrient plays a role in so many pathways of the body, and is the most common micronutrient deficiency since our soil itself is depleted of magnesium.
Patients are often surprised when magnesium supplementation magically seems to “cure” an ongoing sleep disorder, PMS, or constipation. A small, inexpensive dose has a profound effect on so many different conditions. Once you learn the science, the magical powers of magnesium are not that surprising. Magnesium is a foundational micronutrient for the hormone pathways, neurotransmitter regulation and detoxification.
For example, many women suffer from endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome or hormonal migraines. These are all conditions of poor hormone metabolism, which means hormones like estrogen are not getting used correctly, allowing metabolites to build up creating a condition of estrogen dominance. This high estrogen state may not be reflected in a high estrogen level, but in the metabolites of estrogen. Add in magnesium, and hormones start moving down the right pathway, playing a clear role in solving these hormonal imbalances.
We are also a society of neurotransmitter imbalances. Dare we blame magnesium deficiency? Serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and gaba are all dependent on magnesium for proper function. Restless nights, restless legs, anxiety, ADHD and depression are all affected by a magnesium deficiency.
Finally, in an age where the microbiome is recognized as the root of many diseases, magnesium plays a role in gut regulation. Low magnesium levels affect detoxification, the microbiome and even the interplay between methylation and how the microbiome is balanced. Methylation is a detoxification pathway critical to our health.
Magnesium does matter and magnesium-rich foods including leafy greens, nuts (especially almonds) and dark chocolate are great ways to boost your magnesium levels. But given that magnesium content will be limited by our agricultural limitations, supplementing a small dose of magnesium, perhaps 200mg, in a chelated form, is a good starting step. There are many types of magnesium supplements available, but like all supplements, understand the label before your buy. It should clearly state both the dose and the type of magnesium available, as well as any additives. The side effects of magnesium supplementation include stomach cramps, sleepiness or loose stools/diarrhea.
Types of Magnesium
Magnesium Chelate: a blend of different forms of magnesium (many listed below) includes mag glycinate, taurate, and malate, which contains a compound to make it the most bioavailable.
Magnesium Taurate: best for brain health and neurotransmitter balance, anxiety, sleep, and ADHD.
Magnesium Glycinate: great for calming, helping with sleep and hormone balance.
Magnesium Citrate: known to be best for constipation and gastrointestinal issues, it is less bioavailable than other chelated forms of magnesium.
Magnesium Sulfate: used for constipation or muscle relaxation. A great example is epsom salts.
Magnesium Oxide: the least bioavailable form of magnesium.
I hope I’ve convinced you that magnesium matters greatly to your health! If you’re having any of the issues or symptoms above, I recommend getting your levels checked and see your doctor to determine the best level and type for you.