Magnesium: The Nutrient Everybody Needs!

    Did you know that nearly half of the population is deficient in magnesium? Magnesium is the fourth most common mineral in the human body. It helps both regulate our blood pressure and sleep cycles. It also functions to regulate muscle contraction and the production of energy. Moreover, it helps strengthen our immune system and balances hormones. The reason why most of us are deficient in magnesium is not getting adequate amounts of it from our diet. One reason for this is that the soil our foods are grown in are very much depleted of this essential nutrient. Leading a highly-stressed lifestyle is also associated with the depletion of magnesium. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements, adult men require about 400-420 mg of magnesium per day and adult women require about 310-320 mg per day.

    Key Indicators Of A Deficiency

    • Muscles aches and pains
    • Migraine headaches
    • Anxiety and mood disorders
    • High cortisol levels
    • High or low blood pressure
    • Restless sleep/insomnia
    • Period pain coupled with symptoms of premenstrual syndrome such as breast pain, bloating & mood changes amongst woman
    • Constipation
    • Twitching of the eyes and the muscles
    • Blood sugar imbalance and conditions related such as diabetes, insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance
    • Low energy
    • Poor cognitive function
    • Osteoporosis

    You can now see how important magnesium is to functioning as a healthy individual. Not only that, as a Naturopath, many of the symptoms above are the symptoms I see in my clients. If I had to suggest one supplement for my clients, it would be this!

    The 9 Benefits Of Magnesium

    1. It Reduces Anxiety, Restless Sleep, And Stress

    Magnesium is calming to the nervous system, as it helps regulate the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). The HPA axis are three body systems that help regulate our hormones, nervous system, and energy levels by regulating our cortisol levels (our stress hormones). This is why magnesium is often the key supplement I recommend to my clients for symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia, and for those individuals leading a high-stress lifestyle. High stress levels generally deplete this essential nutrient. Supplementing it, specifically magnesium glycinate (a type of magnesium used specifically to calm the nervous system), along with calming herbs and adaptogens are highly beneficial.

    2. It Reduces Symptoms Of Premenstrual Syndrome And Period Pain In Women

    Some symptoms women experience one week before their period is breast pain, which many associate with fluid retention and symptoms of excess estrogen levels. Symptoms include bloating, mood changes, and heavy painful periods. Magnesium works by enabling the liver to process estrogen hormones more efficiently. Since the mineral plays a role in the contraction of the muscles, it can help reduce the hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins that are responsible for contraction of the uterus, thereby reducing pain during the menstrual cycle.

    3. It Improves Menopausal Symptoms Amongst Women

    Some menopausal symptoms include hot flushes, anxiety, bone loss, and low mood. Magnesium addresses these symptoms by regulating the HPA axis due to its calming effects.

    4. It Regulates Our Thyroid Hormones

    Symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as increased heart rate, twitching of the muscles, insomnia, anxiety, and enlarged thyroid gland or goitre, are often associated with high levels of thyroid hormones. The symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as weight gain, fatigue, constipation, muscle cramps, and weakness, are often associated with low levels of thyroid hormones. Magnesium helps your thyroid gland produce adequate levels of thyroid hormones, which balances  hormones.

    5. It Helps Prevent Migraine Headaches

    Many women experience migraine headaches just before their period due to fluctuating hormones. Low levels of magnesium are one indicator of migraine headaches before the cycle. The mineral helps relax the muscles and the nervous system.

    6. It Relieves Constipation And Improves Digestive Function

    Specific forms of magnesium are used as a laxative alternative, such as magnesium citrate. Magnesium relieves constipation by drawing water into the bowel and thereby helping things to move easier in our digestive tract. Simultaneously, it helps improve symptoms of indigestion due to the role it plays in the contraction of the muscles. For individuals experiencing bloating and constipation due to low stomach acid, the nutrient helps calm the spasms and reflux by enhancing stomach acid production.

    7. It Regulates Our Mood

    Magnesium deficiencies have been linked to low levels of serotonin, which is our happy neurotransmitter.

    8. It Benefits Our Bones

    Magnesium is just as essential for the bones as calcium is. Low levels have been linked to both lower bone density levels and increased risk of osteoporosis.

    9. It Regulates Our Heart Rate And Reduces Inflammation

    Stress is one of the major drivers of inflammation in the body. Magnesium reduces inflammation markers through its calming and subsequently relaxing effects on the nerves and muscles. Chronic stress levels often lead to conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and weight gain.

    Getting Magnesium Through Dietary Intake

    The best sources of magnesium in the form of food include:

    • Nuts & seeds – pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, hemp seeds, chia seeds
    • Wholegrains – brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, buckwheat
    • Legumes – black beans, edamame
    • Vegetables – broccoli, dark leafy greens (such as spinach, swiss chard, and beet greens), parsley, okra, basil
    • Seafood – wild salmon, mackerel
    • Fruits – bananas, avocado, apple, dates & figs
    • Dark chocolate

    Because meeting the requirements of adequate magnesium solely through dietary intake is rarely seen amongst my clients, supplementing is best. There are different types of magnesium, each having its own benefits for specific conditions.

    The 7 Different Forms Of Magnesium And Which One You Should Take

    1. Magnesium Glycinate Or Bisglycinate

    This form of magnesium has the highest absorption rate and is specifically used for reducing symptoms associated with stress, such as anxiety, insomnia or restless sleep. It is beneficial for women’s health in reducing symptoms of mood changes, breast pain associated with premenstrual syndrome, and also period pain.

    2. Magnesium Citrate

    This form is specifically used as a laxative alternative for those experiencing symptoms of indigestion and constipation. It does this by drawing water into the bowels.

    3. Magnesium Malate

    Often used for those with chronic fatigue syndrome, this form assists with energy production.

    4. Magnesium L Threonate

    This form improves cognitive functions and reduces age-related memory loss.

    5. Magnesium Oxide

    The most poorly absorbed form of magnesium, it can assist symptoms of heartburn.

    6. Magnesium Sulphate

    Also known as Epsom salt, it is often used in baths to help reduce stress, as well as calm the nervous system and muscles.

    7. Magnesium Chloride

    This form of magnesium enhances calmness and improves sleep quality. It often comes as a topical spray, which specifically promotes rapid absorption through the skin.


    There are very few contraindications to supplementing with magnesium, although it can interfere with certain medications such as antibiotics, blood pressure medication, muscle relaxers, and diuretics medications. Those with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney insufficiency disease should consult their health practitioners before starting supplementation.

    Can we say that magnesium is the Queen of rescue nutrients for many of us? I firmly think so. Due to its vast benefits (the function that it has on the nervous system, our hormones, digestive system, heart health and array of symptoms that magnesium can help manage), magnesium should be one of the supplements that everyone needs to have in their medicine cabinet. I believe we should take some intentional time for food preparation so we can implement magnesium-rich foods through diet as a holistic way of caring for our overall health.

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