Magnesium is a supplement that Dr. Arata recommends to EVERY SINGLE patient who walks through his doors. I guess that says a lot about he importance of this mineral, so I decided to get the “dirt” on why this is. Turns out, it literally has to do with dirt.
It’s not glamorous so it doesn’t get much attention, but Magnesium is a mineral that is absolutely vital to hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the body that affect everything from your nervous system to the health of your bones. Here is where I could repeat all the amazing scientific things Dr. Arata told me but my eyes glazed over, and so would yours. I’m boiling it down to a few the “what’s in it for me?” reasons we should supplement for you. You’re welcome.
In a perfect world, our soil would be chock full of magnesium, a mineral, and we would all get plenty from simply eating our veggies (Because in this perfect world, we would also love eating our veggies). I didn’t know this, but even organic soils are depleted of minerals; it’s no surprise that non-organic veggies have virtually no minerals in them (or any other nutrients, for that matter, but that’s a topic for another day).
Not only are we not getting enough Magnesium in our soil, and therefor our food, we often add insult to injury by consuming things that deplete our Magnesium levels like consuming alcohol, coffee, black tea, grains, soy, most pharmaceutical drugs, and calcium supplements.
When Magnesium levels are optimal you can expect:
- Better Sleep – Deficiency in Magnesium can lead to a disruption in the production of the sleep regulating hormone melatonin. Not only does Magnesium help you fall asleep faster, it helps keep you asleep.
- A Calmer Mind: Serotonin, which keeps the nervous system calm, is dependent upon Magnesium. When we are stressed, we need all the serotonin we can get. A calmer mind leads to more productive days, a better mood, and paves the way to peaceful sleep. When you see your friends stressing out, you can hand them a couple Magnesium and tell them to “take a chill pill”.
- Strong Bones – Magnesium aids in delivering calcium to your bones properly. Believe it or not, calcium supplements are not only useless, but actually contribute to bone loss! Magnesium stimulates a hormone called calcitonin, which is essential to bone health. And, it also suppresses a hormone called parathyroid, which degrades bone density.
- GI Regularity – Magnesium is helpful in keeping you properly hydrated and so affects your regularity. There are so many types of Magnesium, so be sure you are taking Magnesium Citrate if constipation is an issue, but taking too much can take you too far in the other direction, if you get what I’m saying, so use caution. Ever struggle in this department when traveling, ladies? Taking this just before bed a few days before and during your trip will ensure smooth sailing.
- Pain/Migraine/Menstrual Cramp relief: Sore muscles, joint pain, even headaches can be improved by taking Magnesium. Daily Magnesium supplementation can prevent menstrual cramps down the road. It has even been well studied to prevent migraines.
These are only a few of the many ways Magnesium helps us, but are some of the more evident ones. For me, personally, all of these benefits have absolutely rung true.
The need to supplement with Magnesium is a no-brainer, but WHICH type is not. Here are a few ways:
Epsom Salt baths: This is probably the least expensive method and can also be a nice thing to do before bed. Soak at least the bottom half of your body for 20 or more minutes in a warm salt bath (raising your temperature slightly before bed is another effective sleep aid, so this is a “2-fer”).
For a daily supplement, Dr. Arata Recommends Amino Mag by Douglas Laboratories. The dose varies depending on the individual, of course.
For constipation, Magnesium Citrate is the type that hydrates the GI tract; so do use caution when beginning or increasing the dose.
Some people are sensitive to any form of Magnesium, so for them, the Epsom salt baths or even a Magnesium topical spray that is absorbed through the skin skips the GI tract all together.
I’d like to say it’s as simple as getting a blood test to know your levels so you can supplement accordingly, but common blood tests that measure Magnesium levels are completely inaccurate. Your body secretes all of its Magnesium into the blood stream as the priority, so levels could look ok or only slightly low, but beyond the bloodstream, your levels are probably a desert wasteland. The RBC (Red Blood Cell) Magnesium test is the only accurate test out there but is probably not covered by your insurance company. Assuming you are deficient is a safe bet and supplementing has no harmful affects, so try supplementing and see what it does for you.
As with any supplement or dietary change, it is important to consult your Functional or Integrative Medicine physician prior to doing so to be sure it is safe and right for you.