Magnesium is a fascinating mineral that is involved in nearly 300 biochemical reactions within the body whose wide and varied benefits range from energy production though to brain function. With such wide and varied usages by the body, it may not surprise you to learn that magnesium deficiency is very widespread in the adult population. The main reasons for a magnesium deficiency are two-fold; the demands for this mineral are often not met by our intake of green leafy vegetables and of course as we age, our body becomes less efficient at absorbing magnesium due to a lack of digestive enzymes whose production declines rapidly.
Why is magnesium important?
Your body relies heavily on adequate magnesium levels in the bloodstream and yet this is a mineral that we often overlook. Unfortunately, there is not a reliable blood test that shows if one is deficient in magnesium or not. This is because very small amounts of magnesium reside in your blood with the majority of this mineral being used by enzymes for the processes carried out but scientists estimate that magnesium deficiencies may be running at an unprecedented levels with over 60% of the population being magnesium deficient.
Magnesium is important for:
- Optimal nerve function
- Most enzyme processes require magnesium
- Essential for bone health, half of one’s total magnesium is found in bone tissue
- Vital for protein synthesis required for the repair processes within the body
- Crucial for energy production; magnesium alongside CoQ10 work to manufacture the energising molecule ATP.
- Regulates cortisol within the brain helping to alleviate some of the symptoms of stress.
- May help improve memory and brain function
The above benefits of magnesium are only a fraction of what this mineral does for the body. As mentioned previously, there is no accurate test for measuring magnesium levels in the body since a lot of this mineral is stored with the rest being excreted out. Some of the common signs indicating a deficiency include low energy levels, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, frequent headaches and nausea.
So how do I choose a magnesium supplement?
Knowing the benefits of magnesium and perhaps suspecting a deficiency, you decide to take a magnesium supplement only to find a barrage of magnesium supplements with different magnesium compounds within the formulation since magnesium cannot exist in its mineral form. I have highlighted some of the best magnesium supplement to take for any given concern.
Magnesium Citrate – Magnesium citrate is one of the most common forms of magnesium used in tablets and capsules. It is derived by bonding magnesium to citric acid. As a citrate, it has an acidic base which means primarily it has a cleansing effect on the gut as is often recommended in detoxification regimens. Some of it will pass into the bloodstream and ongoing usage may gradually restore low magnesium levels. Food Science of Vermont’s Magnesium+ contains magnesium citrate is one such supplement.
Magnesium Malate – Magnesium bonded to malic acid results in a compound called magnesium malate. Once in the body, the magnesium malate is broken down into magnesium in an ionic form which eases muscle pain. Malic acid, which is required by all cells, including muscle cells, helps enhance energy production. The dual effects of this supplement on muscles makes it very useful for muscle weakness and for fibromyalgia where muscle pain is of concern.
Magnesium Chloride – You will find magnesium chloride often in oil sprays for the body and in lotions, creams and bath flakes. Magnesium chloride is not actually an oil but derived from sea beds. It feels slippery because magnesium chloride is slightly alkaline when compared to water.
Topical magnesium chloride is absorbed rapidly through the skin into the bloodstream which makes it ideal for those who cannot swallow tablets and capsules and for those who have low stomach acid. My recommendations for magnesium chloride tend to focus on its use for localised pain associated with arthritis, restless legs syndrome and generalised muscle pain.
Better You’s Magnesium Oil Original Spray provides a therapeutic strength of magnesium chloride. If you are highly deficient in magnesium, then using this spray can cause an uncomfortable tingling sensation since the magnesium is rapidly absorbed in which case you can use the Magnesium Oil Sensitive Spray.
Magnesium L-threonate – Some forms of magnesium supplement are ill-absorbed into the bloodstream working effectively to cleanse the gut whilst others may be absorbed in greater quantity helping to address any possible deficiencies. But absorption is only part of the equation. The circulating magnesium in your bloodstream still needs to be taken up by all the cells of the body especially the brain tissues via its absorption through the nervous system.
The brain’s demands for magnesium are high. Higher concentrations of magnesium in the brain tissues have been shown to improve learning abilities, improved working memory and improved short and long-term memory. A novel form of magnesium, Magtein™, discovered by a group of scientists at MIT, has been shown to be taken up by the nervous system, the most resilient of all our systems, and effectively delivering magnesium to our brain.
Just because some supplements offer higher strengths of magnesium does not mean that these will be absorbed. Many forms of magnesium supplements are not absorbed efficiently but are great cleansers of the colon which is why many people complain of a laxative effect when taking magnesium. Since absorption into the body is the key to magnesium’s benefits of energy enhancement, optimal brain function, detoxification and cellular health, I believe that Magtein™ is the best form of magnesium currently available but remember this high absorption means that it is not suitable for cleansing the bowels.
Life Extension’s Neuro-Mag and Altrient Magnesium MagTein both contain magnesium l-threonate offering different modes of delivery. Even if you do eat a diet rich in magnesium, you can still end up in deficiencies due to the high demands placed by our body. Supplementation with Magnesium L-Threonate offers the easiest way to balance your intake of magnesium.