Are you tissues absorbing the magnesium you are taking?

     We take magnesium to relax muscles, to help with sleeping and to relieve cramping. However, it can get confusing because there are a great many types of magnesium supplements out there . . . which one do you pick?
     Whilst it is true that there are superior and inferior quality supplements, there are also many different forms of magnesium. For example chelated magnesium is a supplement where the magnesium is attached to another molecule. One such chelate is when magnesium is attached to an amino acid (a small protein building block) which makes it easier for them to get absorbed. Another chelate is a salt such as magnesium citrate - this is a form of magnesium which based on research is supposed to be among the most easily absorbed forms of magnesium. Yet another format is magnesium carbonate - this is a form of magnesium which is one of the most common naturally found forms of it.

     Now let's take into account different body system types for each of these cases. Let's say that your body already is loaded with the particular amino acid to which your magnesium supplement is attached. Your body will be quite unlikely to want to absorb more of it.
     In the second example the magnesium is bound to a citrate molecule - this is useful as the citrate makes it easier for your body to transport it across the wall of the small intestine. This form is also useful as a laxative in folks who suffer from constipation.
Whilst some professionals use magnesium oxides such as magnesium carbonate regularly to treat patients with magnesium deficits due to it being the naturally available form of it - it has been shown that this is also the form which our modern day systems absorb the least.
     There are a great many other forms of magnesium supplements such as magnesium chloride, magnesium lactate, magnesium and calcium combinations, magnesium and vitamin B6 combinations and so on . . .
So which one do you pick?

What most often drives people to go looking for a magnesium supplement are muscle cramps. Magnesium has many other roles in the body though - for example:

    Magnesium regulates your calcium levels and helps bone formation

    Magnesium helps little organelles in your body called mitochondria to produce more energy

    Magnesium calms your nerves by indirectly helping with the function of calming neurotransmitters such as GABA

    Magnesium helps with relief from constipation

    Magnesium helps with relief from migraines

    Magnesium helps prevent osteoporosis

     Considering the many splendors of taking magnesium - we would expect that if we buy an expensive magnesium supplement we should start to notice positive changes. This isn't the case in many patients as the supplement may not be making it to your tissues for a variety of reasons. For example certain issues can cause such problems:

  • Stomach acid levels
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Irritable bowel / diarrhoea / vomiting
  • Kidney disorders
  • Stress
  • Metabolic conditions such as diabetes

     Many 'symptoms' of magnesium deficiency may actually be symptoms of something else - and hence taking magnesium will not make a big difference. In other cases, as discussed before, it may just not be reaching your tissues. What we have found works as a very simple indicator as to whether magnesium is needed by your system are homeopathic tissue salt preparations (such as MagPhos) of it which are widely available in health shops and some pharmacies. Firstly they are quite cost-effective and secondly they will work within a few days of starting to take them. If they don't work - your problem is unlikely due to magnesium deficiency. We can then move on to other investigations.
If this approach does in fact make a big difference to your symptoms, then we next need to decide which form of magnesium is most appropriate for you. Unfortunately this isn't a simple process. We do this on the basis of a detailed case history of your entire health presentation. In this manner we can help you choose the right form of magnesium for your particular system.

Next we can also consider which foods hinder and which foods encourage magnesium absorption. Some foods which hinder are:
  • Whole grain, seeds, bran
  • Coffee, cacao, spinach, nuts, tea, leafy greens - all due to their oxalate content
  • Whole grain flours, grains, bran, unsprouted beans and soy, hulls of seeds and nuts - all due to their high content of phytates
  • Soft drinks and sodas
  • Cows milk - due to high phosphorous content

Some foods which aid magnesium absorption are:
  • Fructose and complex carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Medium chain triglycerides such as coconut oil
  • Fruit and vegetables with high fiber content

Keep in mind that if your deficiency is severe enough or has been present for a long period of time (years), diet may be insufficient on its own to replenish your magnesium levels.
As always, if you have any comments or questions, feel free to .

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