Did you know that 70% of Americans don’t get enough of one mineral in particular? One that is responsible for over 300 biological reactions and processes in the human body?
I’m talking about magnesium!
What is it and why is it important?
Magnesium is the 8th most abundant mineral on earth, and the 3rd most abundant in the ocean, yet many of us are deficient in it.
This amazing mineral is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. 
Because of its vital role in hundreds of enzyme systems and functions related to cell metabolism, it is especially important when considering supplementation. A magnesium deficiency can impact virtually every system of the body.
However, according to the National Institute of Health, assessing magnesium status is difficult because most of it is stored inside cells or in bone. That is why I often suggest the SpectraCell Micronutrient Panel for assessing magnesium status, as well as 34 other nutritional components, including vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids within our white blood cells. Scientific evidence demonstrates that analyzing the white blood cells gives us the most accurate analysis of a body’s deficiencies.
In addition, because Magnesium deficiency is often so overlooked, people suffer needlessly or are having their symptoms treated with expensive, and sometimes dangerous drugs, when they could be more effectively helped with magnesium supplementation.
Top Benefits of Magnesium
- Increases energy
- Calms nerves and anxiety
- Treats insomnia and helps you fall asleep
- Helps with digestion by relieving constipation
- Relieves muscle aches and spasms
- Regulates levels of other important minerals: Calcium, Potassium, and Sodium
- Important for heart health
- Helps prevent osteoporosis
- Treats migraines
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency
And why are we all seemingly deficient in magnesium?
Mainly because of depleted soil coupled with our generally poor nutritional habits – things like consuming too much caffeine, sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.
A really good sweat can also deplete your magnesium stores, along with other electrolytes like calcium, potassium, and sodium chloride (salt).
Dr. Aviva Romm, MD and author of “Adrenal-Thyroid Revolution” says, “You might wonder why we get low in magnesium. It’s because the modern food supply strips our food of this nutrient, and depletes our bodies. Food processing, such as refining grains in ways that remove the nutrient-rich germ and bran, lowers magnesium content substantially – another important reason to avoid processed, packaged foods. Also, coffee and soda deplete this mineral, and often, we’re just not getting a varied enough magnesium-rich diet to keep up with our needs.”
Early signs of magnesium deficiency could include
- Muscle cramps, pains, and spasms
- Tension in the upper back, shoulders, and neck
- Under eye twitches
- Anxiety, irritability, and feeling easily flustered
- Heart arrhythmias and palpitations
- Loss of appetite, nausea and/or vomiting
- Fatigue and weakness
- Premenstrual fluid retention and/or breast tenderness
As magnesium deficiency worsens, symptoms could progress to numbness, tingling, severe muscle contractions and cramps, seizures, personality changes, insulin resistance, and even coronary spasms.
Very rarely, a severe deficiency can result in hypocalcemia or hypokalemia (low serum calcium or potassium levels, respectively) because mineral homeostasis is disrupted.
Best food sources of Magnesium
I always recommend considering how to nutritionally support the body with whole foods, rather than to jump right to supplements when a nutrient deficiency is suspected.
Here are the top magnesium-fortified foods
- Greens like spinach, swiss chard, and sea vegetables
- Legumes! Especially lentils, black beans, mung beans, and edamame (boiled soy beans)
- Nuts and seeds, especially almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds
- Fruits and veggies like figs, potatoes, avocados, bananas, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts
- Dark chocolate – yes!!
Interestingly, magnesium has been shown to improve mood in women with PMS and may also reduce water retention and other symptoms of PMS. 
No wonder women crave chocolate before their periods!
However, we must consider that only 30% to 40% of the dietary magnesium we consume is typically absorbed by the body, so it can be difficult to raise your magnesium levels from diet alone. 
What kind of magnesium supplements should you take and how much?
Magnesium has truly become a tool that I use to address my client’s health issues, and I like to use different forms for different purposes and in combination if necessary.
- Magnesium glycinate for its relaxant qualities and nerve pain
- Magnesium malate which can be energizing and good for muscle pain and fibromyalgia
- Magnesium threonate as it is great for depression, anxiety, and PTSD
- Topical magnesium spray/gel/lotion or magnesium sulfate in a bath (Epsom salts), which are great if gut health is compromised, and therefore magnesium would need to be absorbed transdermally
If you are not familiar with trandermal therapy, Dr. Norman Shealy, MD & Founder of the American Holistic Medical Association states, “Transdermal therapy creates ’tissue saturation’, which allows magnesium to travel to the body’s tissues and cells at a high dose without losses through the gastrointestinal tract. When taken orally, however, magnesium may be absorbed inefficiently, either due to the laxative effect of oral doses; due to the effect of other foods, vitamins or minerals in the gut that lessen absorption; or due to individual differences, such as leaky gut syndrome, that reduce magnesium processing.”
One of the most commonly used forms of magnesium is magnesium citrate, mostly purchased as Magnesium CALM. You might notice I do not list magnesium citrate as a form of magnesium I recommend, and that is because magnesium citrate can lower your ceruloplasmin levels, which is important as it helps to regulate iron and copper levels in the body.
So, hopefully you can now see why I think that Magnesium is indeed a wondrous mineral! Do you include Magnesium regularly in your health routine? Are you interested in assessing your magnesium and micronutrient status?
 Institute of Medicine (IOM). Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997
 Facchinetti F, Borella P, Sances G, Fioroni L, Nappi RE, Genazanni AR. Oral magnesium successfully relieves premenstrual mood changes. Obstet Gynecol. 1991 Aug;78(2):177-81. [PubMed abstract]
 Fine KD, Santa Ana CA, Porter JL, Fordtran JS. Intestinal absorption of magnesium from food and supplements. J Clin Invest 1991;88:396-402. [PubMed abstract]