Today I'd like to place the spotlight on magnesium - a jack of all trades to helping you feel your best.
Magnesium is a mineral that is used as a cofactor in so many chemical reactions in our bodies that lets us think of it as a 'jack of all trades' and I could be here all day listed them. The most health-applicable actions in my opinion are
Cause smooth muscle (internal organs, artery walls) and skeletal muscle relaxation,
Activate GABA receptors to help increase calmness.
Regulate the action of insulin, a hormone necessary for blood sugar control
Cell energy production in the mitochondria
These actions make magnesium a cheap and effective treatment option for many of the main concerns patients come in with. The muscle relaxation is pretty self-explanatory as to indications, but the second action is not as commonly understood.
GABA, which is short for Gamma-AminoButyric Acid, is one of our main neurotransmitters that sends the signal to chill out and be calm. A lot of pharmaceuticals target GABA and it's receptors as well as some other herbs like passionflower. The benefit of magnesium is that it also blocks the NMDA receptor meaning that it reduces the sensation of pain.
Magnesium is also crucial for proper energy production inside each and every one of your cells' mitochondria - the power house of the cell. I've noticed that mitochondrial dysfunction is started to gain a lot of research focus lately so I'll make a blog post about that next week do explain it in a bit more detail. For now, know that low magnesium can also make you feel fatigued.
Why am I low in magnesium?
There are 2 reasons why you might be low in magnesium - you aren't eating it, or you're losing/using all of it. See dietary sources below to find out which foods have the most magnesium. Consumption of excess alcohol, poor blood sugar control (Diabetics especially) and chemotherapy can also reduce your absorption of magnesium.
Losing magnesium can happen from a variety of causes, such as diarrhea, malabsorption (celiac disease, IBD, or any other sort of gut inflammation or dysbiosis), kidney disease, or using a diuretic such as hydrochlorothiazide (ex. Ramipril). Proton pump inhibitors can also decrease absorption of magnesium as well as iron and B12.
Seeds, particularly pumpkin, have the highest amount of magnesium. Other forms include legumes and dark green leafy vegetables.
Taken from WHFoods.com
Supplement Forms and Dosages
Magnesium Oxide - really bulky form of the mineral meaning that it doesnt get absorbed at all. Only indicated for constipation.
Magnesium Citrate - best for constipation, there is some absorption and some individuals find benefit for muscle tension and insomnia but I've only ever gotten loose bowels from it. 100-300mg per day.
Magnesium Bisglycinate or Glycinate - best for muscle tension and twitches, insomnia, etc
This is the most absorbable form of magnesium and the one I most recommend. 200-800mg per day.
Magnesium Malate - emerging research showing benefit for CFS and fibromyalgia. 500-800mg per day.
If at any point in time you do start to get diarrhea from supplementation, just reduce your dose. Similar to Vitamin C, each person has their own 'bowel tolerance' which just means you took too much as once for you. Break up the dosing to get the same benefits.