Magnesium is a mineral that many associate with calcium – for strengthening bones – but this vital mineral is much more than that. It is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and impacts blood pressure, metabolism, immune function and many other aspects of health. Unfortunately, it is estimated that as many as 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium.
How do you know if you are deficient? There are some simple blood tests that your healthcare practitioner can use to determine magnesium deficiency. The following are common reasons for magnesium deficiency:
• Potassium-depleting prescription diuretics
• Too many laxatives
• Antacid medications (proton pump inhibitors)
• imbalanced calcium:magnesium ration (aim for 1:1)
• Heart failure
• Chronic diarrhea
• Conditions associated with malabsorption, such as Crohn’s disease
Studies have shown magnesium is beneficial for the treatment of:
• Irregular heartbeat
• Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
• Type 2 diabetes
• Certain forms of hearing loss
• Leg cramps/muscle spasms
• Complications following a heart attack
• High blood pressure
The easiest and best way to get magnesium is through diet. Good sources are nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios) grains (oatmeal, wheat germ, whole grain breads and cereals) legumes (soybeans, lentils, kidney and pinto beans) dark green vegetables (spinach and beet greens). If you aren’t getting enough of these foods, a supplement should be considered. (Talk to you doctor to make sure there aren’t any interactions with anything else you are taking).
Another way to get magnesium is with baths. Take regular Epsom salt baths or foot baths. Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate that can absorb into your body through your skin.
So what magnesium should you take? Talk to a healthcare professional to see what is best for you, but here are a few options along with the conditions they would be best suited for.
Magnesium Glycinate: A chelated form of magnesium that tends to provide the highest level of absorption and bioavailability and is typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency.
Magnesium Taurate: This type contains a combination of magnesium and taurine, an amino acid. Together, they tend to provide a calming effect on your body and mind.
Magnesium Oxide: The least well absorbed, but good if you have constipation, as this has a laxative effect.
Photo from here, with thanks.