You’ve probably seen it on the side of a cereal box: “Good source of magnesium.” But what is magnesium, and what does it do for our bodies? This key nutrient has several important jobs, regulating everything from muscle and nerve function to blood sugar levels and even blood pressure.
Although magnesium is found naturally in a variety of foods – and is added to foods like fortified breakfast cereal – you could still be magnesium deficient. Fortunately, there are several ways to supplement your magnesium intake.
The Benefits of Magnesium
Magnesium serves several purposes in the human body. Most notably, it helps to transport potassium and calcium across cell membranes. That might sound complicated, but it’s pretty simple: These nutrients improve nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction and normal heart rhythm, helping your entire body function efficiently. Magnesium is also required for the synthesis of DNA and RNA, the building blocks of the human body. Finally, magnesium reduces inflammation and increases glutathione, a key antioxidant molecule in the body. Magnesium has several other benefits:
- Reducing high blood pressure and chance of heart disease
- Lowering risk of Type 2 diabetes
- Increasing bone mineral density and reducing risk of osteoporosis
What Causes Low Magnesium?
Magnesium is widely available in foods like legumes, seeds, whole grains, nuts and leafy greens. A good rule of thumb: The greener the food source, the higher the magnesium content, although magnesium is also available in dairy products like milk and yogurt, as well as in fortified breakfast cereals. Despite the wide availability of this nutrient, we’re seeing more and more patients with significant magnesium deficiencies. This could be due to a few things:
- Magnesium-deficient food sources
- Consuming few fruits and vegetables
- Consuming fruits and vegetables from magnesium-depleted, overprocessed soil
- Taking medications like Hydrochlorothiazide
Do I Have Low Magnesium?
While it can be difficult to test for magnesium levels, there are several key symptoms of magnesium deficiency:
- Brain fog, apathy or feelings of emotional numbness
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Osteoporosis or loss of general bone density
- Muscle twitches, tremors, seizures or convulsions in severe cases
- Digestive issues like constipation and cramping
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Erratic mood changes
- Poor glucose control
Seems like magnesium impacts just about every part of the body, right? It’s true. Low magnesium levels can take a serious toll on your brain’s neurotransmitters, leading to a host of problems that can worsen as we age. Overall, a red blood cell test is the most reliable way of testing patient magnesium levels.
There are several groups that are more susceptible to low magnesium, including patients with gastrointestinal issues like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, patients with Type 2 diabetes, patients struggling with drug and alcohol abuse and older individuals.
What’s the Best Way to Consume Magnesium?
Once you’ve identified a magnesium deficiency, it’s important to treat it as soon as possible. There are a wide variety of magnesium supplements on the market today, including easy-to-digest forms of magnesium:
- Magnesium citrate, which is a great digestive aid
- Magnesium glycinate, which is the easiest supplement for the body to absorb, helping the body clear toxins like lead and mercury
- Magnesium taurine, which we recommend for cardiovascular issues
- Mag malate, which we recommend for chronic pain
We typically recommend that our patients take a combination magnesium supplement as part of their healthy diet plans in Springfield Missouri. Not sure which nutritional supplement to choose? Reach out to Kare Health and Wellness in Springfield, Missouri at 417-881-4994. Our goal is twofold: to improve your immediate health and prevent future health issues through functional medicine. Our experts will help you select a magnesium supplement that will work best for your needs.