Magnesium Supplementation: Why and How to Choose a Good One
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While getting enough magnesium isn’t something many of us think about, it’s an incredibly important mineral for neurological, cardiovascular, muscular, and metabolic health.
Your body needs magnesium to execute more than 300 biochemical reactions involving your nervous system, your brain, your heart, your muscles, and your memory. It’s also important for regulating body temperature and for improving insulin sensitivity. Further, not getting enough magnesium can lead to sleep troubles, specifically insomnia.
What Happens When You Aren’t Getting Enough Magnesium?
From muscle twitches and weakness to cramps to osteoporosis, asthma, anxiety, seizures, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeats, a lack of magnesium can wreak serious havoc on your body’s ability to function normally.
While the latter is the classic clinical signs of magnesium deficiency, or hypomagnesemia, less severe signs—those with marginal deficiencies—often include headaches and migraines, insomnia, and fatigue.
What is Considered Low Magnesium Levels?
Normal magnesium levels fall between 1.8 and 2.2 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Lower than 1.8 mg/dL is considered low, while below 1.25 mg/dL is considered severe hypomagnesemia.
What Foods Are High in Magnesium?
Adequate daily magnesium intake for children falls around 75 mg, while teenagers and adults need between 240 mg and 420 mg per day depending on their size and gender.
Though you can get enough magnesium from various foods, including leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, various legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, it’s important to note that we don’t absorb all the magnesium we intake. We absorb approximately 30 to 40 percent of it.
Generally speaking, foods with dietary fiber tend to be good magnesium sources, but let’s take a look at some common foods containing decent amounts of magnesium:
- 1/2 cup of cooked spinach: 78 mg
- 1-ounce almonds: 80 mg
- 1-ounce cashews: 74 mg
- 1/4 cup peanuts: 63 mg
- 1/2 cup black beans: 60 mg
- 1/2 brown rice (cooked): 42 mg
- 1 medium banana: 32 mg
- 3 ounces of salmon: 26 mg
- 1/2 cooked broccoli: 12 mg
Do I need a Supplement?
There is a good chance you’re not intaking and absorbing enough magnesium from your diet alone. It is believed that as much as 50 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough.
Sidenote: Without enough magnesium, your body can’t properly metabolize Vitamin D, meaning 50 percent of the American population have inactive Vitamin D stores, as well as being low in magnesium.
Choosing the right kind of magnesium supplement can be tricky, as there are tons of options on the market today.
3 Simple Tips to Choosing a Quality Magnesium Supplement
1. Salts Versus Chelates
There are essentially two types of magnesium supplements—salt and chelates. Salt form magnesium is cheap to make and buy, whereas chelates, which are bonded to amino acids, are considerably harder to manufacture and more expensive to buy.
Bottom line: Avoid the salts. Go for the chelates.
Chelates are easier for your body to both absorb and digest, meaning they’re way more effective than salt form magnesium. Further, you have to take a way higher dosage of salt form magnesium, as it’s not absorbed as well, so you’ll end up spending more money anyway because you’ll go through it much faster.
2. Recognizing the Names
It’s important to note the various names of magnesium types to distinguish between salts and chelates.
Magnesium Lactate is the magnesium salt of lactic acid. This type of magnesium can even trigger anxiety and agitation.
Marine magnesium is another salt magnesium and is poorly absorbed by the body.
Magnesium chloride is also a salt form of magnesium. One downside is that it can have a laxative effect.
Magnesium oxide and hydroxide are some of the cheapest salt forms magnesium on the market. However, they are poorly absorbed by the body and also can have a laxative effect.
Magnesium glycerinate and bisglycinate, on the other hand, are amino acid chelate form magnesium that binds magnesium to the amino acid glycine, which essentially creates the form of magnesium that we find naturally in our food. Magnesium glycinate is absorbed particularly well and doesn’t have any laxative effects. It is a great choice for those with long-term magnesium deficiencies.
Magnesium malate a chelate form magnesium known to help those suffering from chronic fatigue.
And magnesium taurate is chelate form magnesium often recommended to help with cardiovascular issues.
3. Vitamin B and Magnesium
In short, magnesium and B Vitamins are good compliments, as vitamin B combined with magnesium helps increase your body’s ability to absorb magnesium.
One brand we especially like is Quadramag. It has four types of highly-absorbable magnesium chelates, as well as an active form of vitamin B.
Further, magnesium and the B Vitamins work in tandem to promote the normal nervous system and psychological function. Hence, a chelate form magnesium supplement with B Vitamins is the most effective.