You know about the mineral magnesium, but possibly overlook the benefits of it. Most of us suffer from a deficiency in the mineral because we forget about it when it comes to food. It can be difficult to get enough through food alone, which means reaching for magnesium supplements is a consideration by many.
Before you reach for the supplements, make sure you know all you can about them. Getting magnesium naturally is the best way of getting the nutrient in your body. Here’s a look at everything you need to know about magnesium supplements.
Why Are So Many People Deficient in Magnesium?
Did you know around 80% of adults have a magnesium deficiency? The severity of the deficiency ranges from mind to serious. Those with deficiencies in magnesium can have deficiencies in other nutrients, including vitamins B1 and K and potassium.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some minerals can prevent the absorption of magnesium into the body. Calcium can cause the body to act negatively. This is especially a problem if you take too much calcium daily.
Women with a magnesium deficiency can also have worse PMS symptoms or be more likely to suffer from pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. There is also more risk of weakened immune systems, osteoporosis, mood swings, liver and kidney damage, high blood pressure, and many other health problems.
But why is a magnesium deficiency so bad?
One of the biggest issues is a chance in the lifestyle. More of us reach for processed foods, rather than healthier and organic alternatives. We eat food that is full of empty calories, instead of focusing on a balanced diet that is full of magnesium-high foods. There are various reasons for this, with cost often stated as one of the main reasons. Processed foods tend to be cheaper because they are made in larger amounts to keep up with demand.
Soil depletion is also a problem. The foods that used to be high in the mineral no longer have as much, as the soil doesn’t have it. The use of antibiotics can also lead to low magnesium levels. The body can’t absorb as much from the food that we eat.
And our bodies get rid of magnesium daily. It’s excreted through the urine and its used for normal bodily functions, including hormone production and heart rate control. So, if you don’t replenish it daily, you can end up losing more than you gain.
With all this in mind, opting for magnesium supplements can help you increase the amount you get. The supplements have a controlled amount of the nutrient, making sure you get enough daily. It doesn’t solve the absorption rate problem, but you put more in your diet to increase the chances of absorbing the amount that you need.
How Much Magnesium Does Your Body Need?
Remember that your body will get some magnesium from food. It is possible to take too much of a nutrient, leading to other health problems. Before you even think about using magnesium supplements, make sure you know just how much you need daily.
Children under a year old will usually get enough magnesium through the breast milk or formula. After the first year, you will likely move onto solid food. It’s worth considering child supplements when moving off formula or breast milk, as there is a chance that children won’t get as much as they need. Talk to your doctor or health visitor about the types of supplements that are best for children.
When it comes to the adult years, women need 360mg of magnesium a day in their teenage years and then 310mg between 19 and 30. The amount increases to 320mg after 31 years of age.
Pregnant women will need to get between 350mg and 360mg per day to support the development of the baby. When breastfeeding, get between 310mg and 320mg regardless of age. The baby will take the nutrients from you.
Make Sure You Get Other Important Nutrients
It’s not just about getting enough magnesium. Even if you get 320mg per day, there’s a chance that your body doesn’t absorb all the mineral. This is linked to the other vitamins and minerals that you get. If you don’t get enough vitamin K, your body can find it hard to absorb enough magnesium. High levels of calcium or not enough vitamin D can also lead to problems absorbing magnesium.
If you are going to take supplements, make sure you get enough of other nutrients. Multivitamins are usually advised because you’ll get a mixture of all the nutrients your body needs. It’s also worth focusing on a healthy diet, rather than opting for supplements for everything.
There’s nothing wrong with topping up with supplements, but don’t rely on just the supplements to get your daily amount. This could lead to other health problems.
The Different Types of Supplements for Magnesium
There are natural and synthetic supplements available in stores. You can also get magnesium through some over-the-counter medications like laxatives and antacids. It’s important to look at anything you eat or take daily to keep the amount gained within the healthy ranges.
The various types of supplements will absorb differently within the body. Those that are dissolved in liquids tend to absorb much easier within the gut. Most of the hard work has already been carried out. Studies also show that magnesium in chloride, chelate, or citrate forms are also easier to absorb than those with sulfate or oxide forms.
Magnesium chelate is one of the most preferred and easier to find. It’s found in most of foods naturally, too, which makes it the most powerful. When bound with amino acids, the muscles get more of the nutrient and it can be used to replenish energy stores better.
When you get it through laxatives, you will usually get magnesium citrate. This is when it’s combined with citric acid, whether natural or synthetic. It is safe for the body to digest and can help to relieve constipation and other digestive problems. Not all this form is found in laxatives. It can also be found naturally in citric fruits. When eaten in large amounts, they can create the laxative effect.
You can apply magnesium to the skin through chloride oil. Magnesium oil is also something added to food, especially for professional athletes or given as a supplement for those with some digestive disorders. It can help to dull pain in the muscles, reduce skin irritations, and improve the normal absorption of the mineral.
If you need something that is highly absorbable, magnesium glycinate is something to consider. It’s one that isn’t linked to laxatives, which helps to avoid wasted magnesium through the stools. Doctors will often consider this form when dealing with patients with severe magnesium deficiencies. However, you will likely not be kept on the form for too long, if your doctor believes it’s safer to move onto other forms.
Magnesium threonate is also considered for those with severe deficiencies since it is also easily absorbed. The downside is that this isn’t a form easily available. More studies and research are also needed to make sure it’s safe for all and for any downsides noted.
You can also get magnesium in numerous natural forms. Epsom salts are considered for many, as the magnesium can be absorbed directly through the skin and treat skin conditions. The salts aren’t the type of salts we consider in the way of drying out the skin. They’re mineral salts, packed with various other health benefits.
Yes, It Is Possible to Overdose
Taking too many magnesium supplements is possible. The amounts for a healthy female have already been mentioned. Taking too many supplements can lead to diarrhea in most people. Magnesium helps to keep the bowel movements in order by softening the stools. It’s possible to soften the stools too much.
There are also risks for those with heart and kidney problems. In fact, if you do have either of these problems, you should speak to your doctor before considering magnesium supplements. The nutrient affects the kidneys directly and taken too much can lower blood pressure considerably and disrupt the level of electrolytes in the body.
If you currently take drugs to help manage diabetes, blood thinners, and diuretics, you will want to consider against magnesium supplements for now. Talk to your doctor about mixing the medications together, as magnesium supplements can affect the way your other medications work.
Take Your Supplements with Food
Some people experience discomfort when taking magnesium supplements without food. It’s best to get a balance whenever taking any type of supplement. When taken with food, the digestive system is working naturally to break down all the nutrients in the food, so it’s easier to absorb all the magnesium from the supplements.
Taking with food will also make it easier to take the mineral with other nutrients. It’s easier to increase your vitamins D and K intake naturally. Watch out for taking magnesium with calcium. Too much calcium can lead to absorption problems.
You’ll also want to make sure you take with water. As mentioned, dissolving the nutrient can help to improve the absorption rate within the body. This is because the nutrient has already started to break down. Anything in liquid form is easier for the body to absorb. Drinking with some sea salt mixed with the water is even better. Sea salt naturally has magnesium, improving the amount of the mineral that you get into the body.
You may want to time taking your supplements properly, too. While you want to take them with food, opt for them with the last meal of the day. Magnesium can improve the chances of sleeping, as a magnesium deficiency is linked to insomnia and restless leg syndrome. You can find you relax better with the supplements at the end of the night, improving your overall hormonal balance and sleep benefits.
If you still struggle with sleep when taking the supplements, make sure you talk to your doctor. This could be a sign of another health problem.
There’s Still More Research Needed
While research has proven positive in many aspects of taking the supplement, it’s not conclusive yet. There is inefficient research in how magnesium supplements can help some parts of the health. More research is also needed into the downsides of taking the supplements, especially the prolonged use effects.
Before you start taking magnesium supplements, make sure you talk to your doctor. This is regardless of another health problem or not. Your doctor will need to know about all the supplements and medications you take. This will help with a diagnosis in the future and help them know symptoms and signs to look out for. You can also discuss the individual types of supplements to make sure you get the best options for your overall health.
Your doctor will also be able to check for a magnesium deficiency. This can be tested through the blood to determine if it’s really magnesium you need. There are many minerals that cause similar side effects and symptoms.
The best way to get magnesium is naturally, but some of the natural sources are failing. Soil, antibacterial use, and financial restraints are making it hard to get the right levels of the nutrient into your body. If you have increased the natural forms of magnesium and are still struggling with a deficiency, consider the use of supplements.
Do You Need Magnesium Supplements?
Now it’s time to look at your diet and lifestyle. Could a magnesium deficiency be your problem? Do you need to start taking magnesium supplements? Don’t instantly jump to the idea of medication. There are natural forms and your doctor will also help offer advice. If you do decide to take magnesium supplements, use the above guide to get the right type to improve your health and the absorption rate within your body.