Could Magnesium be the Answer You’ve Been Searching For?

Around 80% of the population is deficient in magnesium, a mineral required for 300+ enzymatic reactions in the body. Are you one of them? Let’s take a closer look at magnesium deficiency and the many health benefits of this essential mineral.


Not so fun fact: I have a chronic bladder condition called interstitial cystitis that can be extremely painful.

Fun fact: I began supplementing with magnesium over a year ago and within a week felt great relief. Long story short, it was the answer I had been searching for FOR YEARS.

And after a little bit of research, it seemed that, hey, magnesium may be the answer others are searching for as well. Thousands, millions of others suffering from migraines, insomnia, anxiety, blood clots, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis…. and so the list goes on.


Let’s backtrack for just a moment — what is magnesium?

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and is essential for initiating more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps the heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, keeps bones strong, regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.


Magnesium deficiency affects around 80% of the population and has been called “the silent epidemic.”

In the past, humans were able to get enough magnesium through a varied diet. (Oh, the simple days.) Unfortunately, modern farming methods and chemical fertilizers have stripped natural magnesium from the soil.

This, coupled with the fact that stress and certain medications (diuretics and antibiotics) decrease the absorption of magnesium, has led to what really could be considered an epidemic of magnesium deficiency.

According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND — author of The Miracle of Magnesium — magnesium is very intimately connected to the following 22 facets of health and conditions:

Anxiety and panic attacks

Magnesium keeps stress hormones under control

Asthma

Magnesium deficiency increases histamine production and bronchial spasms

Blood clots

Magnesium thins blood, much like aspirin but without the side effects

Constipation

Magnesium deficiency causes constipation, potentially leading to toxicity, malabsorption of nutrients, or colitis

Cystitis

Magnesium deficiency can increase the frequency and severity of bladder spasms

Depression

Serotonin, which elevates moods, is dependent on magnesium

Detoxification

Magnesium is necessary for the natural removal of toxins and heavy metals

Diabetes

Magnesium enhances insulin secretion, facilitating sugar metabolism. Without magnesium, insulin is not able to transfer glucose into cells.

Fatigue

Magnesium is necessary for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. So when the body is magnesium-deficient and these enzyme reactions are not working properly, we can experience fatigue.

Heart disease

Mg deficiency is common in people with heart disease. Mg is administered in hospitals for acute myocardial infarction and cardiac arrhythmia. Like any other muscle, the heart muscle requires Mg. Mg is also used to treat angina, or chest pain.

Hypertension

Magnesium deficiency causes blood vessels to spasm and increases cholesterol levels, which lead to blood pressure problems.

Hypoglycemia

Magnesium regulates insulin, keeping blood sugar levels constant.

Insomnia

Magnesium deficiency interferes with the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.

Kidney Disease

Magnesium deficiency contributes to kidney failure and throws off lipid levels.

Liver disease

Magnesium deficiency commonly occurs during liver transplantation.

Migraines

Magnesium balances serotonin levels. Serotonin deficiency can result in migraines.

Musculoskeletal conditions

Fibrositis, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, eye twitches, cramps, and chronic neck and back pain may be caused by magnesium deficiency

Nerve problems

Magnesium alleviates peripheral nerve disturbances throughout the whole body, such as migraines, muscle contractions, gastrointestinal spasms, and calf, foot and toe cramps. It is also used in treating central nervous symptoms of vertigo.

Female reproductive health

Magnesium helps alleviate PMS and menstrual cramping; plays an important role in fertility; helps alleviate premature contractions, preeclampsia, and eclampsia in pregnancy; helps alleviate morning sickness and pregnancy-induced hypertension. It is also given to pregnant mothers to decrease the risk of cerebral palsy and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). According to Dr. Dean, “Magnesium should be a required supplement for pregnant mothers.”

Osteoporosis

When combined with calcium and vitamin D, magnesium helps increase calcium absorption. For this reason, magnesium deficiency promotes bone loss.

Raynaud’s Syndrome

Magnesium helps relax the spastic blood vessels that cause pain and numbness of fingers.

Tooth decay

Magnesium deficiency causes an imbalance of phosphorus and calcium in saliva, which damages teeth.


So how much magnesium should we be getting?

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is between 350 and 400 milligrams per day. But this is just enough magnesium to ward off deficiency.

Twice the RDA is suggested for those suffering from the 22 conditions triggered by magnesium deficiency.


And how can we best up our magnesium intake? Diet or supplements?

Leafy greens and nuts are great sources of magnesium, but likely not enough. One tablespoon of almonds has 33 milligrams of magnesium. So you would have to eat more than 20 tablespoons to consume the suggested amount! That’s a lot of almonds.

Fortunately there are many ways to supplement magnesium: oral supplements, magnesium oil (which is really just magnesium chloride diluted in water; this may irritate some so be sure to spot-test first), and magnesium flakes which can be diluted in water to make your own magnesium oil or sprinkled in baths. Since oral magnesium supplements can have a laxative effect and are not easily absorbed, applying magnesium topically is a great way to supplement.

Everyday after showering, I spray some magnesium oil (again, not really oil so it won’t stain clothing) on my legs and arms. It absorbs completely before I dress. I consider this a critical part of my daily routine along with dry body brushing and my morning warm lemon cayenne pepper water.

Don’t go crazy now! Though it is thought to be impossible to overdose on magnesium, you know what they say about too much of a good thing. Individuals with improperly functioning kidneys may not be able to handle magnesium supplementation and should consult a doctor. It can also cause loose stools. Furthermore, magnesium may interact with certain prescription medications, so be sure to do your homework!


Sources and further reading:

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  1. Magnesium saved me from many different problems I was experiencing. I had fatigue, stomach issues, Gerd, and anxiety. I had read about magnesium on Dr Hyman’s site and went to the store immediately to get some. He mentioned to avoid magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide. When I went to the store, these are what was on every shelf. I asked for magnesium citrate at the drug store and they gave me a bottle of laxitive. Eventually I went to the health food store and found magnesium citrate. I tried several and the girl who worked there suggested I try the stress drink which was just a magnesium citrate powder, it did not have any other ingredient but stevia. She said that this seemed to have the best results for others because the body easily absorbs the drink better than the tablets or capsules. Once I started using this drink I saw immediate results, felt better, stomach was healing and I even slept better. Wanted to share my story because I am sure someone will run to the store and get the magnesium oxide that is on every shelf and may not get the desired result.

  2. My naturopath has my son(started at age 6 and is now 9) taking a powder magnesium every night before bed. His bedwetting has completely stopped and he no longer wakes up in the night. If we miss more than one dose he wets the bed. It is truly amazing.

  3. Catherine – I am just seeing your comment now but hope a few weeks later that this is still the case! IC is a tough bugger to figure out since it varies from person to person, but I hope with some time and experimenting with your diet and supplements, that you are able to find relief. Best of luck and wishes to you!

  4. I am so thankful for your post. I have been struggling with bladder problems for the past year and my symptoms have pointed to interstitial cystitis. The pain was progressing and was feeling discouraged by the treatment options. I asked a friend to pray for me and that same day she read your post and sent it to me. I have been taking magnesium for almost two weeks and my symptoms are almost completely gone. My husband and I are very thankful!

  5. I have IC, too, and have never heard of magnesium being helpful. A few years ago, we shifted a primal lifestyle, and the dietary changes with that have been so helpful. I am excited to look into this more. Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Great article! I would like to comment on what you said about not being able to be tested for magnesium deficiency – I was tested and found to be very deficient, so it is possible to test for this deficiency. I’m not sure the results would have been the same if I were only slightly deficient, though.

  7. My asthma (that I had dealt with on a daily basis since I was 9) is gone after supplementing for 9 months (at high doses). I used a variety of kinds of magnesium (that is the key and Carolyn Dean recommends that) and it was as if all of a sudden I couldn’t tolerate such high levels. I haven’t had any incidence of asthma since. (I also two years ago changed my diet which made a big difference but I didn’t see full removal of asthma until the magnesium.)

    You can get tested. It’s called the RBC magnesium. (requestatest.com) It tests the intercellular level of magnesium (not the serum/blood). Mine is 5.0. I’m still working to get it higher.

    Another reason many of us our deficient is that we get too much calcium, which needs to be balanced with magnesium. Too much calcium in the body wreaks havoc. Try heart disease, bacterial overgrowth and cancer. Read the book, it’s awesome.

  8. Hi, Katrina. I would definitely suggest speaking with your doctor and perhaps seeing a holistic doctor. I wish you the best of luck and hope you are able to find relief.

  9. My understanding is the best way to test for Magnesium is a MagRBC test. They do a blood draw but they are testing magnesium on the cellular level.

  10. If I have MS and am lately most often fatigued and have back and neck pain, would you suggest I talk with my neurologist first about taking a magnesium supplement or will it not hurt to just try the oil?

  11. Hi, Sara. As I mention in the post, we used to get enough magnesium from a varied, real food diet. But modern farming methods and chemical fertilizers have stripped natural magnesium from the soil, and have thereby stripped it from produce. Dr. Dean suggests double the RDA specifically for those who are struggling with one of the 22 conditions triggered by magnesium deficiency.

  12. If it is so hard to get that much Magnesium from your diet why is the suggest amount so high? I have a hard time with these numbers. How did we get Magnesium naturally before there were supplements?

  13. Thank you for this post. I deal with a number of the issues that are mentioned and am already taking 500 mg of magnesium a day in a reliable supplement. This post has spurred me to look into magnesium oil further. I know for sure magnesium is helping somewhat with some of my issues and a lot with a couple issues (muscle cramps and restless legs) and am hoping to get even more benefit with the oil. And I agree that it woud be hard to overdose on magnesium but your body sure will let you know if you’ve taken more than it can tolerate. You’ll be dashing to the bathroom! 😉