Magnesium – why we need it and where to get it

fruit-veg-heart-inpage2 Magnesium is needed to activate hundreds of enzymes throughout our bodies and is also critical for proper cell function.  We also need it for strong and healthy bones and teeth as well as to help muscles relax which is why magnesium is used to treat fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, as both conditions may involve tender, aching or painful muscles. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to reduce C-reactive protein, a pro-inflammatory cytokine and key marker of inflammation.  Elevated C-reactive protein is associated with various inflammatory conditions, including cardiovascular disease.  Supplementation has also been shown to reduce symptoms of people with asthma, thereby reducing the amount of medication required. Having low magnesium levels is also associated with symptoms of depression, schizophrenia and disturbed sleep. Studies have suggested that magnesium may be effective in treating menstrual problems, decreasing lower back pain, lower abdominal pain, and reducing intensity and duration of menstrual cramps. Magnesium also plays an important role in maintaining nerve function, is involved in energy regulation and metabolism (due to its stabilising the enzymes that produce cellular energy), proper insulin production, and may be useful in preventing pregnancy complications. Oral contraceptives have been found to lower blood magnesium and people with malabsorption syndromes or gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease may be deficient in it. Stress may also lower our levels. The best food sources of magnesium include dairy products, meat, seafood, nuts, blackstrap molasses, soybeans, seeds, and wheat germ as well as whole grains such as oatmeal and rice. Bear in mind though, that the magnesium content of food varies depending on the content of the soil that it’s grown in.  And magnesium is lost during food processing…59% of magnesium in whole wheat is removed during milling, and cooking foods in water also leaches this mineral out. If taking a supplement, it would be beneficial to take magnesium citrate, magnesium malate, magnesium aspartate or chelated magnesium which is bound to an amino acid, as these forms may be more bioavailable than magnesium oxide or carbonate.  Or try putting a couple of handfuls of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) in to a night-time bath and lie in it for 15 minutes…you’ll absorb the magnesium through your skin and have a good night’s sleep! If you would like to learn more or get my recommended magnesium dosages for common conditions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Written by

Claudia Williamson Registered Nutritional Therapist DipION, FdSc, mBANT, mCHNC Tunbridge Wells, Kent