Nutrient Spotlight: Everything You Need to Know About Magnesium

Nov 01, 2021

It’s difficult to pinpoint which vitamins and minerals are most important to the normal, healthy functioning of the human body. Realistically, many different dietary consumables interact with each other to create a healthy patient. Magnesium is one of many critical nutrients that we test patients for during a preventative health check. However, what is magnesium, and why is it so important?

Different Types of Magnesium

According to Healthline, “magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body.” A mineral this abundant is bound to have separate forms, all with different functions. In the human body, magnesium can be found in about ten different forms, and they all have slight differences that can make them more or less fitting for supplementation.

Easily Absorbed Magnesium

  • Magnesium citrite – found in citrus fruits
  • Magnesium chloride – often used in heartburn medication and topical creams
  • Magnesium lactate – a form that is gentler on the intestines 
  • Magnesium malate – found in wine and some fruit 
  • Magnesium L-threonate – a metabolite of vitamin C that can be used specifically to increase brain levels of magnesium 
  • Magnesium glycinate – magnesium combined with an amino acid; found in legumes, fish, meat
  • Magnesium orotate – a more expensive form with less laxative side effects

Less Bioavailable Magnesium

Magnesium sulfate, also known as Epsom salt, is a foul-tasting white crystalline mineral that is generally dissolved in water and topical creams. Magnesium oxide is also poorly absorbed by the digestive system, making it a less desirable option for supplementation.

Other Forms

Magnesium taurate is a form that has interesting effects on blood sugar levels and blood pressure; in fact, it was used to decrease hypertension (blood pressure) in at-risk animals.

Benefits of Increased Magnesium Intake

It Can Help Fight Depression

As with any mental illness, the team at Optimum Direct Care always recommends that you discuss your mental health with your physician. This being said, there are very strong studies that suggest magnesium’s uncanny ability to reduce the symptoms of major depressive disorder. If you think that you might benefit from magnesium supplementation, reach out to our team so that we can help you identify your baseline magnesium levels and determine a regimen for safe supplementation.

Magnesium and Type 2 Diabetes

This connection has been kicking around since the early 2000s, and some providers like to test diabetics for low magnesium levels. One study from 2003 states that “oral supplementation with [magnesium chloride increases] insulin sensitivity and metabolic control in type 2 diabetic patients with decreased serum magnesium levels.” Sometimes, patients may benefit from a cursory blood panel that checks for deficiencies – before jumping to expensive drugs.

Magnesium Deficiency

Anyone can develop magnesium deficiency, but some individuals are more likely to become magnesium deficient: malnourished individuals, alcoholics, diabetics, pregnant women, lactating women, and athletes.

The symptoms of magnesium deficiency can range from mild to extremely severe, depending on the extent of your deficiency:

  • Muscle spasms, including in the heart, causing arrhythmias
  • Decreased immune function
  • Fatigue and extreme irritability
  • Anemia and bone loss
  • Teeth grinding
  • High serum lipid levels
  • High blood pressure

Recommended Dietary Sources of Magnesium

High-Quality Grains, Nuts, and Seeds

Responsibly farmed, high-quality grains are a good source of magnesium: oats, brown rice, whole wheat bran, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, and peanuts. Do not confuse whole-grain bran with highly processed bread and “whole wheat” products.

Greens and Fruits

Spinach, swiss chard, figs, and bananas are all great, fresh sources of magnesium. Toss spinach and swiss chard into a wilted greens dish to go under a serving of halibut (a high-magnesium fish), and finish the meal with a fig and banana parfait!

High-Quality Dietary Supplements

It can be extremely difficult for some patients to get the daily recommended amount of magnesium through food alone – especially if they are already deficient. For patients like this, it may be beneficial to take a supplement. Finding the right supplement for your needs may take a couple of tries; there are seven viable options listed above, and your physician may recommend other sources for you.

Depending on your situation and concerns, a consultation with a physician may be necessary. Schedule an appointment with our health care team today if you suspect that you might be magnesium deficient.