A Guide to Magnesium – Part 3: What Type of Magnesium Supplement is Best?
Your body needs magnesium and if you aren’t getting enough, your body will go after stores of magnesium in your bones. Yet, most people are unaware of how important magnesium is to our health.
Half of Americans don’t get enough magnesium even though it’s possibly one of the most important nutrients. Every single organ needs magnesium in some capacity and when you aren’t getting enough, it can cause general malaise.
The widespread symptoms of magnesium deficiency often prevent individuals from being able to pinpoint the source of their health problems. This is one of the reasons I recommend everyone be tested for major nutrient deficiencies – magnesium included.
In parts one and two of this series we looked at why magnesium is so important and the benefits of making sure you get enough magnesium. In part three we are going to examine how you can get more magnesium in your diet and, if necessary, with supplements.
Is it safe to take magnesium?
Before we dive into magnesium-rich foods and magnesium supplements, I want you to be aware it’s possible to take too much magnesium.
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is between 240 mg to 400 mg for adults. In general, more magnesium is recommended for men and pregnant women than for children or women who aren’t pregnant. As you get older, you’ll need more magnesium.
Taking doses less than 350 mg daily is typically safe but if your body can’t rid itself of magnesium fast enough, it can build up in the body and cause uncomfortable and sometimes serious side effects.
Magnesium toxicity symptoms or magnesium supplement side effects include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Facial flushing
- Difficulty breathing
In the case that magnesium toxicity isn’t addressed, it could lead to magnesium overdose. Magnesium overdose can include extreme hypotension, cardiac arrest or impaired kidney function or failure. Magnesium toxicity and overdose typically occur in people who are using magnesium supplements for laxative purposes and consuming more than 5,000 mg per day.
Generally, most people could use more magnesium in their diet. Magnesium toxicity is very rare and is only linked to very high intakes of magnesium supplements.
Which food sources are rich in magnesium?
I always recommend getting your nutrients from food over supplements whenever possible. This is why The Dental Diet is packed with the most important nutrients that support a healthy mouth and a healthy body.
Before you grab a bottle of supplements, first add these magnesium-rich food sources to your diet. Listed from highest to lowest in magnesium content:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Swiss chard
- Dark chocolate
- Sunflower seeds
- Black beans
- Navy beans
Each of these foods are included in The Dental Diet for their nutrient-dense characteristics.
If you’re worried you aren’t getting enough magnesium in your diet, you can add more in supplement form.
When it comes to magnesium there are several types of supplement you can take and it’s important to know the difference between them. The mode of delivery also varies, you can take magnesium in tablet, powder, and transdermal forms.
Absorbing magnesium through the skin in a transdermal form is a method worth considering because it bypasses the GI tract and can improve bioavailability.
It’s better if you opt for a chelated magnesium supplement because these are more easily absorbed by your body. Other magnesium supplements can also be harsher on your digestion. Chelated forms of magnesium are bound to amino acid proteins, which is what the second word in their name refers to (examples below).
While these are all great, each are considered to have a slight edge in some areas. Here are the better options and how they’re believed to affect your health.
Magnesium L-Threonate – Supports cognitive function. Able to cross the blood brain barrier and most commonly used for brain health. Research has found it improves working memory and learning ability.
Magnesium Malate – Supports energy production.
Magnesium Taurate – Supports calmness and heart health.
Magnesium Glycinate – Supports relaxation.
Magnesium Orotate – Supports heart health.
Magnesium Aspartate – Supports energy production and fights fatigue.
Magnesium Citrate – Commonly used to relieve constipation.
Magnesium and vitamin D go hand-in-hand
Nutrients don’t work independently from one another, they are interconnected and some work together well – magnesium and vitamin D are an example of this.
You must have sufficient magnesium for your body to be able to metabolize vitamin D. Additionally, if you’re taking too much vitamin D it could deplete your magnesium levels. Keep this in mind if you have nutrient testing done. These two vitamins should be taken in balancing levels.
If you are taking vitamin D supplements you should take magnesium.
Other vitamins that can steal magnesium
Similar to vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus can deplete magnesium levels.
Your body needs enough magnesium to absorb calcium. Too much calcium can eat up your magnesium and actually make your bones weaker. Same goes for phosphorous. If you’re getting too much phosphorous it can reduce your magnesium levels.
When you’re getting tested for magnesium deficiency, be sure to keep these inverse relationships in mind.
Testing for magnesium deficiency
It’s important to know that traditional serum testing for magnesium isn’t a good indicator of total body magnesium because your heart always needs enough magnesium to prevent spasms and so your blood levels will appear sufficient. Instead, ask your doctor for an ionized magnesium test or the Altura test.
Many people go ahead and assume they have a magnesium deficiency and skip right to taking supplements. While this isn’t a terrible idea, it’s always better to know than to blindly supplement.
Do you take magnesium supplements? If so, which kind are you taking and what’s your experience? We’d love to hear your experience with magnesium supplements in the comments below.
Dr Steven Lin’s book, The Dental Diet, is available to order today. An exploration of ancestral medicine, the human microbiome and epigenetics it’s a complete guide to the mouth-body connection. Take the journey and the 40-day delicious food program for life-changing oral and whole health.
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