Magnesium: Myths and Mysteries

Magnesium is common word thrown around in chemistry labs and is the 12th element on the periodic table of elements. Did you know that magnesium plays an important role in over 300 metabolic processes inside our bodies? While magnesium can be present in the foods we eat, often times people can become deficient in this mineral. Keep reading for 4 facts about dietary magnesium and magnesium supplements. Whenever we are asked about supplements at Concho Valley Chiropractic we aim to separate facts from fiction, so below we have included sources for all the topics, that would double as excellent resources if you’re curious about taking magnesium for your own health.

An Important Electrolyte

Electrolyte is a word that we commonly seen in sports drinks ads, this is because electrolytes are chemicals that allow for electricity to flow once dissolved. Electrical flow is vital for our skeletal muslces, nerves, and even our heart and magnesium is often overlooked. Our bodies absorb magnesium through our intestines and store it mostly in our bones. A deficiency can occur when we either don’t get enough or have to get rid of too much. But the role of magnesium stretches far beyond just our muscles. Magnesium deficiency has been shown to contribute to disorders of the heart, nerves, blood vessels, bones, kidneys and is even strongly associated with diabetes. I would strongly urge my patients dealing with cardiovascular issues, nervous system disorders, and who have diabetes to make sure they are getting enough dietary magnesium.

Important for Bone Health

As mentioned before magnesium is stored in our bones, but it is also a significant factor in bone density. Have you been told you have osteoporosis? Do you know someone with a disorder that has decreased the density of their bones? Often times,we are told about the role of calcium in bones, but magnesium goes over looked. While dietary additions for patient’s with osteoporosis could be beneficial at CVC we always want to recommend things to our patients that promote health before such disorders arrive. A randomized control study investigated the effects of taking Magnesium on healthy individuals bone density. Albeit in a smaller sample size the study concluded that magnesium did play a significant role on increasing bone density.

Magnesium is Incredibly Helpful in Pregnancy

When looking at magnesium supplementation in pregnancy it has been shown that magnesium can likely reduce complications during pregnancy. This was demonstrated in a randomized controlled study that found improvements in pregnancies specifically pertaining to fetal growth, birth weight, and leg cramps. Certain pathological conditions like pre-eclampsia and eclampsia have also been treated with Magnesium containing compounds.

Foods Containing Natural Magnesium

At CVC we often believe that the best way for our bodies to get the vital nutrients that they need is through the foods in which they naturally occur. Incorporating healthy magnesium containing foods into our diet is one of the best ways to prevent magnesium deficiency before it ever happens. It’s fitting for the month of October but the food with the greatest magnesium concentration is Pumpkin Seeds! Other foods that have a significant amount of magnesium include: Spinach, Almonds, Peanuts, Black Beans, Potatoes (with the skin), Avocado, and Rice. How much magnesium is required for daily consumption? Check out the link below.

Forms to take as supplements

Something that I have noticed with patients is that sometimes a doctor will recommend taking additional magnesium for the health benefits, but it can be discouraging to know what type of supplement is best to buy. Magnesium on it’s own is a very reactive chemical, so for dietary ingestion it needs to be bound to something else. So here are 3 kinds that are commonly available:

  • Magnesium Citrate– Magnesium citrate is an organic form of magnesium. Being able to be readily absorbed, this supplement causes increased water in the intestines. In short magnesium citrate is often used as a laxative, which depending on your circumstances could be an unintended consequence.
  • Magnesium Oxide– Magnesium oxide is an inorganic for of magnesium. This is the form is not as readily absorbed as the organic counterpart. However this is the form that was used in the bone density study listed above.
  • Magnesium Sulfate or Magnesium Chloride- Magnesium sulfate or magnesium chloride are other inorganic forms of magnesium that are considered salts. More commonly they are known as Epsom salts. This form is commonly applied topically. There is some debate in the scientific community to the efficacy of magnesium being absorbed through the skin. Many patients that I have seen, swear by Epsom salts for combating muscle spasms and soreness, and there is a potential mechanism for magnesium to be carried throughout the skin and lymph. However, most studies conclude that more research is necessary for the use of magnesium supplementation through the skin.

Whenever taking a supplement for health purposes it is always prudent to put safety first. Magnesium has been shown to interfere with some medications, and has a laxative effect. In excess this can lead to electrolyte imbalance and dehydration so always discuss with your doctor prior to starting a new supplement.

Written By : Dr. James Vlcek