Magnesium and Your Health

Tina Butt

Have you heard of this mineral?

Magnesium is a necessary nutrient for your body. It is important for nerve function, muscle contraction, blood sugar regulation, blood pressure, bone health, heart health, and brain function.

Where do you get Magnesium you ask?

  • Diet: legumes, nuts, seeds, beans, soy beans, peas, whole grains, spinach and other greens, breakfast cereals fortified with magnesium, milk, yogurt. This is not a complete list but you get the idea.
  • Supplements: Multi-vitamins, dietary supplements
  • medications: laxatives, reflux treatment

Why do you need Magnesium? As mentioned above, this is a mineral that is very important for all of your cells in your body. Without magnesium, your body could not function.

What happens if you don’t get enough Magnesium?

  • loss of appetite
  • nausea, vomiting
  • fatigue
  • generalized muscle weakness
  • neuropathy
  • muscle cramping
  • seizures
  • depression, anxiety
  • irregular heart rhythm
  • chronic inflammation
  • insomnia

Who is at high risk of magnesium deficiency? (ask your healthcare provider if you are at risk)

  • GI disease such as Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease- due to poor absorption of this nutrient in the gut.
  • Having Type 2 Diabetes- this is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease.
  • Alcoholism- this is a cause of poor nutrition in general, poor absorption of nutrients.
  • Elderly- due to decreased kidney and or live function.
  • chronic kidney disease- you are unable to excrete what your body does not need, you hold onto it causing an elevated Magnesium level.
  • treatment of reflux with medications such as PPI’s- Long term use can decrease the absorption of magnesium in the gut. (ex. omeprazole, lansoprazole, pantoprazole)
  • Use of oral antibiotics- some antibiotics interact with magnesium supplements. check with your medical provider to see if you are at risk
  • use of diuretics- due to the increased excretion of urine, magnesium is lost through the urine

Can you get too much Magnesium?

  • Yes! but if you are getting magnesium in food only, your kidneys will eliminate what is not needed. But if you are prescribed magnesium supplements for a condition as determined by your medical provider, you need to take it as prescribed as too much will cause side effects and can be dangerous. Too much will cause:
    • diarrhea
    • nausea, vomiting
    • abdominal cramping
    • irregular heart beat
    • cardiac arrest

Now for the research on magnesium. PubMed has published that “studies show approximately 50% of people in the US and Europe do not get enough of this essential mineral”. Pub Med also reported that chronic low levels of magnesium are linked to chronic health conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Magnesium has also been used for the treatment of neurologic diseases such as migraine and neuropathy.

PubMed has also cited that some studies show people with High Blood Pressure can have improvements in their over all blood pressure when they are treated with magnesium supplements.

Magnesium is important for insulin and glucose metabolism. If you have Type 2 Diabetes, you may be at high risk for magnesium deficiency. The thinking behind this is high blood sugar will cause increased urination(polyuria) causing an increased secretion of magnesium in the urine.

How about the use of Magnesium for pain. It has been thought that post workout muscle fatigue and pain can be treated and prevented with Magnesium. Epsom Salt is Magnesium. An Epsom salt bath or foot soak can help relieve the pain/discomfort. There is also a Magnesium spray that can be sprayed directly on the skin where you are experiencing pain. The thought behind how this works is your body absorbs the Magnesium through the skin, increasing your blood levels, therefore you get the effects of the Magnesium as listed above.

Magnesium supports muscle relaxation, you can try to take a supplement at bedtime to promote good sleep and decrease your muscle aches which may improve insomnia.

Magnesium can be good for anxiety, again due to the relaxation of muscles. It is a nervous system relaxant. People tend to hold stress/tension in their muscles. Taking a Magnesium supplement may help relax the muscles, decreasing the tension to create a feeling of calmness.

On a personal note, I suffered from Migraine for years. I was on/off multiple medications specific for Migraine treatment. All of these medications had more side effects than what they were worth. In other words, they did not take away my Migraine. I was started on Magnesium along with another supplement and after approx 4 weeks my Migraines lessened dramatically. I went from 1-2 Migraines a week to 1 a month.

Take home message. If you are someone that is suffering from any of the disease processes, complications, or risk factors as mentioned above, it may be beneficial for you to ask your medical provider for a magnesium level to be drawn. That being said the standard blood test is not always the “best” test and may give you a false negative result (my magnesium level was normal). You may gain some symptom management with the addition of a magnesium supplement. Speak to your medical provider for more information.

What are your thoughts?

Have you used Magnesium as a supplement?

What benefits have you had from a Magnesium supplement?

Tina Butt, Health and Wellness Coach and Healthcare Advocate

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