Magnesium deficiency is often misdiagnosed because it does not show up in blood tests – only 1% of the body's magnesium is stored in the blood.
I do recommend getting your vitamins and nutrients from fresh food sources first. However, magnesium is a supplement I commonly recommend and frequently have tested, especially if someone has any health complaints or hormone issues.
Why? Magnesium supports hundreds of reactions in the body, and I recommend magnesium for almost every hormonal condition (PCOS, thyroid, adrenal fatigue, hair loss, PMS and menopausal symptoms). I love magnesium because it makes people feel better almost immediately.
A revved up nervous system is what an average modern human needs to get through an average modern day. If you work, or commute, or drink coffee, or worry, then you are deficient in magnesium. It simply takes too much magnesium for your body to try to manage the stress hormones surging through your body. If you live the meditative life of a monk on a mountainside, then you're probably ok. Other than that, we need so much magnesium that it is very, very difficult to get enough through diet alone.
Just look at all the ways magnesium plays a critical role in body:
1) Magnesium regulates cortisol. Magnesium calms your nervous system and prevents excessive cortisol. Your stress hormonal system (called HPA or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) is your central hormonal system. When it is better regulated your other hormonal axes — thyroid and sex hormones — will function better.
2) Magnesium lowers blood sugar. Magnesium is so effective at sensitizing the insulin receptor in our bodies that I refer to it as our ‘natural metformin.’ (For those of you that just said, “Uh?” metformin is a very popular antidiabetic medication that manages blood sugar and insulin production). Magnesium creates better insulin control in your body, which means fewer sugar cravings. Healthy insulin sensitivity is also important for weight loss and managing PCOS and it also prevents osteoporosis.
3) Magnesium supports your thyroid. Magnesium is essential for the production of thyroid hormones. It is also anti-inflammatory, which helps to quiet the autoimmune inflammation that underlies most cases of thyroid disease. (Other ways to address thyroid autoimmunity include gluten-elimination and a selenium supplement, but that’s another blog!)
4) Magnesium aids sleep. Magnesium is the great sleep-promoter, and sleep is crucial for hormone production. Sleep is when we should have a surge in anabolic hormones such as DHEA and growth hormone.
5) Magnesium fuels cellular energy. Magnesium is so intricately involved with glycolysis and the Krebs cycle (ATP energy production), that we can safely say: "There is no cellular energy without magnesium." Glandular tissues such as thyroid, ovaries, and testes are metabolically very active, so they require even more cellular energy and more magnesium than other tissue.
6) Magnesium makes hormones. Magnesium is involved in the manufacture of steroid hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. Magnesium has also been shown to reduce hot flashes by 50%.
7) Magnesium enhances vitamin D. Vitamin D is more effective when magnesium is present. On the flip side, when you have too much vitamin D supplementation, it can create a magnesium deficiency. Vitamin D is actually a precursor hormone — the building block for calcitriol, a powerful steroid hormone. Vitamin D also teams up with other hormones in your body to allow healthy bone renewal and fights to onset of osteoporosis.
8) Magnesium is anti-aging. The mineral helps stop telomeres from shortening (you'll keep hearing more about them). It also aids in lowering oxidative stress. Oxidative stress accelerates aging. No thank you! Additionally, magnesium boosts glutathione production, which is essential for detoxification.
9) Magnesium relaxes the muscles in the intestines. This helps to establish a smoother digestive rhythm. Magnesium also attracts water to the colon; this increased amount of water in the colon serves to soften the stool, helping to make stools easier to pass. Think about all the digestive issues that pop up around your period. Studies show that gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, including bowel discomfort, abdominal pain/discomfort, bloating, and alterations in bowel patterns during your period are spiked by hormone shifts and imbalances. When you have magnesium for all the hormone balancing listed above, plus the improved digestion in the intestines, these symptoms can be lessened.
BEST MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENTS: My recommended types of magnesium include magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, and magnesium lactate, all of which are more easily absorbed into the body than other forms of magnesium.
It’s a good idea to take a B vitamin complex, or B6 with magnesium, because the level of vitamin B6 in the body determines how much magnesium will be absorbed into the cells.
If you’re looking for a powder form, try Natural Calm, and if you prefer a capsule, try magnesium glycinate. Supplementation is the best choice when using magnesium for therapeutic uses.
You want to make sure you get qaulity supplements, otherwise you will most likely be getting fillers and other by products that are undermining the benefits of taking the supplement. Brands I recommend are Integrative Theraputics (sold as Enzymatic Therapy over the counter) and Metagenics. These are medical grade brands so they must meet strict standards for quality.
FOODS SOURCES OF MAGNESIUM: Swiss chard, cacao, cashews, chia, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds, quinoa, black and navy beans, almonds, buckwheat, brazil nuts, dulse, filberts, millet, pecans, walnuts, rye, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, avocado, parsley, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic.
How do you get magnesium in your diet? What are your favorite magnesium rich foods.
Taste the Joy,
Jennifer Klotz, MS, RD, LDN
As a holistic nutritionist and a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s of Nutrition and Wellness, Jennifer is dedicated to helping people live a healthy life by looking at the whole picture (their stress levels, sleep, physical activity, work environment, relationships and nutrition collectively). We love her passion for healing the body through nutrition (and the new recipes she’s always passing around!). She provides educational awareness regarding the knowledge and understanding of food sensitivities and nutritional issues, and offers guidance and the tools needed to help everyone lead a healthier, more balanced life!