Magnesium offers all kinds of health benefits, both physical and mental. Likewise, we do not always consume enough magnesium to reap these benefits. The best way to make sure your body is getting the amounts of magnesium it needs is by eating foods rich in magnesium, such as vegetables, dried fruits, and whole grains. But you should take a magnesium supplement if you don't have enough in your diet. To get the most benefit from a dietary supplement, you should make sure your body is absorbing magnesium well.
Part 1 of 2: know your magnesium needs
Step 1. Understand the importance of magnesium
Every organ in the body needs magnesium to function properly. It contributes to the proper functioning of several important functions. They include the following:
- regulating the functioning of muscles and nerves;
- good blood pressure and correct blood sugar levels;
- the production of proteins, bone cells and DNA;
- regulation of calcium levels;
- promotes sleep and relaxation.
Step 2. Understand the absorption of magnesium
Magnesium is important, but the body can struggle to get enough of it. This is mainly due to the fact that we do not consume enough in the diet. But other factors can also compromise this absorption, including the following.
- Too much presence (or absence) of calcium.
- Medical causes such as diabetes, Crohn's disease, or alcoholism.
- Drugs that prevent this absorption.
- Another reason too many people, especially Americans, lack magnesium is that our soils lack magnesium. This causes a significant decrease in the plants we consume.
Step 3. Know how much magnesium you should be consuming
The amount varies depending on age, sex and other factors. In general, a man should not consume more than 420 mg per day and a woman should not exceed 320 mg.
- It is a good idea to talk to your doctor about this so that you know how much magnesium you should be consuming, especially if you think you are suffering from a deficiency.
- Be sure to check the dose of magnesium in your multivitamin so that you don't exceed certain amounts if you are also taking a magnesium supplement. This also applies to the calcium that is usually found in magnesium supplements.
- Be sure to mention any chronic illness as well. Health problems such as gluten sensitive enteropathy and Crohn's disease interfere with the absorption of magnesium. These conditions can also cause magnesium to leak through diarrhea.
- Be aware of the effects of age. The body's ability to absorb magnesium decreases with age. The loss of this mineral also tends to increase. Studies have also found that our diets tend to contain less magnesium when we are older. Older individuals are also more likely to take medications that interfere with magnesium.
- Always talk to your doctor before giving magnesium supplements to children.
Step 4. Look for signs that you are not getting enough magnesium
You probably won't see any symptoms if your magnesium deficiency is transient. But you could have symptoms if you are constantly low on magnesium. They are as follows:
- loss of appetite;
- muscle spasms and cramps;
- you may also experience tingling or numbness if your magnesium deficiency is severe. Seizures, cardiac arrhythmia, and even personality changes can also occur;
- see a healthcare professional if you experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis.
Step 5. Try to replenish magnesium through the diet
You should get enough of it while eating properly, unless you have a medical condition that makes it difficult to absorb magnesium. You should consider managing your diet before taking any dietary supplements. Here are the foods that are rich in magnesium:
- dried fruits such as almonds and Brazil nuts;
- seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds;
- soy products such as tofu;
- fish such as halibut and tuna;
- green vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and chard;
- dark and powdered chocolate;
- all kinds of spices such as coriander, cumin and sage.
Step 6. Choose a magnesium supplement
Choose a product that contains a form of magnesium that is easily assimilated by the body, if you plan to take this type of supplement. Add-ins to look for include any of the following.
- Magnesium aspartate. This form of magnesium is chelated (attached) to aspartic acid. The latter is an amino acid, which is common in foods rich in protein and which facilitates the absorption of magnesium.
- Magnesium citrate. It comes from the magnesium salt made from citric acid. The concentration of magnesium is quite low, but it is easily absorbed. It has a mild laxative effect.
- Magnesium lactate. It is a low concentrated form of magnesium commonly used to treat digestive problems. It should not be taken by people who have kidney problems.
- Magnesium chloride. It is another easily absorbed form of magnesium, which also supports kidney function and metabolism.
Step 7. Watch for signs that you have taken too much magnesium
Although it can be difficult to consume too much magnesium, you may be taking too many dietary supplements that contain it. This can lead to magnesium poisoning, which can cause the following symptoms:
- abdominal cramps;
- irregular heartbeat and / or cardiac arrest in the most severe cases.
Part 2 of 2: Helping the Body Absorb Magnesium
Step 1. Talk to the doctor about any medicine you are taking
Taking magnesium can affect the effectiveness of some medications. These can also interfere with the body's ability to absorb the extra magnesium you take. These drugs are:
- bisphosphonates, such as those prescribed for osteoporosis;
- medicines used to treat acid reflux.
Step 2. Consider taking vitamin D
Some studies suggest that increasing the intake of vitamin D can help the body absorb magnesium.
- You can eat foods rich in vitamin D such as tuna, cheese, eggs, and fortified cereals.
- You can also get vitamin D by spending more time in the sun.
Step 3. Keep some balance in taking minerals
Certain minerals will make it more difficult for your body to absorb magnesium. You should avoid taking dietary supplements at the same time as your magnesium supplements.
- Too much or too little calcium in the body can make it especially difficult to absorb magnesium. You should not consume too much calcium while taking magnesium supplements. Likewise, do not completely drop calcium, as this can prevent the absorption of magnesium.
- Studies have also found that there appears to be a link between magnesium and potassium levels. The nature of this relationship is not yet well understood. Even then, you should not increase or decrease your potassium levels too dramatically in order to increase your magnesium levels.
Step 4. Cut down on your alcohol intake
Alcohol increases the amount of magnesium that is lost in the urine. Studies have found that many alcoholics also suffer from magnesium deficiency.
- Alcohol precipitates the fall of magnesium in the urine as well as other electrolytes. This means that even moderate alcohol consumption can lower your magnesium levels.
- These magnesium levels drop to their lowest in individuals who have to wean themselves off alcohol.
Step 5. Be especially careful with your magnesium levels if you have diabetes
Magnesium deficiency can occur if diabetes is not well controlled through diet, lifestyle and medication.
People with diabetes release too much magnesium from their bodies through urine. Magnesium levels can therefore drop very quickly if not carefully monitored
Step 6. Take magnesium throughout the day
Take small amounts of magnesium throughout the day with your meals and a full glass of water, rather than taking a single dose. Your body will absorb it better this way.
- It is also sometimes suggested to take dietary supplements of magnesium on an empty stomach if you have difficulty absorbing it. Foods in your stomach can sometimes interfere with the body's ability to absorb magnesium. But it can also smear your stomach.
- In fact, the Mayo Clinic in the United States suggests taking magnesium supplements only with meals. Taking on an empty stomach can cause diarrhea.
- Products that release magnesium gradually can also facilitate absorption.
Step 7. Be careful what you eat
As with minerals, there are certain foods that can prevent the body from properly absorbing magnesium. Avoid eating the following foods at the same time of day when you are taking your magnesium supplement.
- Foods very rich in fiber and phytic acid. They include whole grains or products such as brown rice, barley or wholemeal bread.
- Foods rich in oxalic acid (oxalate). They include coffee, tea, chocolate, green vegetables, and dried fruits. Foods high in oxalates that are steamed or boiled may lose some during cooking. Consider eating cooked spinach rather than a salad. Soaking beans and some seeds can also help.
- Most of the time, you only need to change your diet to increase your magnesium intake. Consuming dietary supplements is harmless, as long as you don't exceed the recommended amounts.
- Sometimes you can feel better with a dietary supplement with magnesium, even if the blood test does not reveal any deficiencies. This often makes you feel more energetic, improves skin quality, and increases thyroid function.
- Magnesium deficiency can also cause exhaustion. This can lead to a weakened immune system and muscle spasms. In the most severe cases, one can experience mental confusion, anxiety, panic attacks, weight gain, premature aging as well as dry and wrinkled skin.
- Individuals with extremely low magnesium levels may require an intravenous injection of magnesium.