Magnesium is found and used everywhere in our bodies – bones, hair, nails, blood and every organ. Magnesium (Mg) is a cofactor in more than 300 brussel_sprout_man enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in our body, it’s also required for energy production within our cells.

As magnesium is vital to our whole wellbeing a deficiency in magnesium levels has been shown to either cause or trigger many conditions including

Asthma  – many drugs used in the treatment of asthma cause a loss of magnesium. Both histamine production and bronchial spasms increase with magnesium deficiency.

Blood Clots – Mg works by preventing blood clots and keeping the blood thin

Depression – Serotonin is dependent on Magnesium levels

Diabetes – Magnesium facilitates sugar metabolism. A lack of Mg means insulin is not able to transfer glucose into cells which can cause a build-up in the blood causing tissue damage

Heart disease – It’s common in people with heart disease to have low magnesium levels. The heart requires magnesium to help maintain a normal heart rhythm

Insomnia – Magnesium is vital for the function of GABA receptors in our brain and nervous systems. GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps calm the mind, and without it we can remain tense, with racing minds because our brain doesn’t switch off. Even marginal magnesium deficiency can prevent the brain from settling down at night.

Migraine – Magnesium deficiencies allows serotonin to flow unchecked. Serotonin increase causes vascular spasms, which then reduces blood flow and oxygen to the brain.

Fibrositis, fibromyalgia & muscle spasms – Magnesium is stored in the tissues and a deficiency can cause leg cramps, foot pain & muscle twitches. This is due to an imbalance of the ratio of calcium to magnesium, as calcium controls contraction, while magnesium controls relaxation.

Historically we have been able to top up our magnesium levels through our diet. Foods that are rich in magnesium are dark leafy greens such as spinach, nuts & seeds, fish such as Mackerel, beans & lentils, Avocados, Bananas, berries like strawberries & blackberries & dark chocolate. However intensive farming techniques are depleting the magnesium and other essential nutrients in our soil. The increase in fast food/processed food over the last 30 years means that we now have people who have consumed this food their whole lives and are nutrient poor. Magnesium can also get depleted from certain health conditions including chronic alcoholism and the use of certain medications. People that suffer from gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s and gluten sensitivity can deplete their magnesium levels overtime due to malabsorption.  As we age we tend to have less magnesium that younger adults as magnesium absorption from the gut decreases.

Ideally magnesium should come from nutrient dense food, but as we now cannot guarantee we are getting the right amount of levels of Mg from our food a good supplement can help stop the gaps. When choosing a supplement to take you need to take into account the type of Magnesium and how well its absorbed.

Below is a list of the different types (source mercol.com)

Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that tends to provide the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability and is typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency

Magnesium taurate contains a combination of magnesium and taurine, an amino acid. Together, they tend to provide a calming effect on your body untitledand mind

Magnesium threonate is a newer, emerging type of magnesium supplement that appears promising, primarily due to its superior ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane, and may be the best magnesium supplement on the market

Magnesium chloride / Magnesium lactate contain only 12 percent magnesium, but has better absorption than others, such as magnesium oxide, which contains five times more magnesium

Magnesium carbonate, which has antacid properties, contains 45 percent magnesium

Magnesium oxide is a non-chelated type of magnesium, bound to an organic acid or a fatty acid. Contains 60 percent magnesium, and has stool softening properties

Magnesium sulfate / Magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia) are typically used as a laxative. Be aware that it’s easy to overdose on these, so ONLY take as directed

Further reading

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/#h8

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/magnesium/

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/magnesium