Magnesium – Sparking energy
Magnesium is a miracle mineral needed to drive body energy systems. It is the green component in plant chlorophyll, and without it, plants cannot take nutrition from the sun and survive. In essence humans cannot tense a muscle or focus a thought without enough magnesium in our cells. As it cannot be stored in the body, it must be obtained from diet. Magnesium is depleted with alcohol consumption and stress. It is an alkalising mineral salt which can counter our over-acidic western lifestyle. Do you consume enough of this sparkling mineral?
Magnesium – Why we need it
Magnesium is principally used to spark energy production within cells. Magnesium also plays a crucial role as an anti-spasm mineral, and operates at a cellular level in all body systems. If muscles, nerves and organs are not energised our muscular, nervous and supporting systems will fail, resulting in ailments ranging from chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, PMS, cramping, migraines, high blood pressure, insomnia to asthma.
Can I get enough from my diet?
Getting magnesium in your daily diet requires a vegetarian-based wholefood approach including green leafy vegetables, tofu, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains. Magnesium is low in a diet based on fish, meat, dairy, fruit and some vegetables. Diets high in refined foods, meat and dairy contain low magnesium. (2)
Magnesium in Superfoods
If you can’t manage a predominately green/vegetarian-based diet, drink alcohol regularly and have a stressful lifestyle, it is possible to become magnesium deficient. Magnesium is present in wholefood form in superfood sources present in Spirulina, Chlorella, Wheat Grass and Barley Grass. The chlorophyll component of these plant powders is packed with magnesium. Taking 1 scoop daily in a juice or smoothie is a delicious way to maintain magnesium stores. Of course, the superfoods contain enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals as well as magnesium, so are an excellent gap-fill for diet deficiencies.
Magnesium is an essential mineral needed to drive over 300 enzyme reactions required to produce body energy. (2) Magnesium also is needed to move electrolytes in and out of cells, which are essential for optimal cell function. It has the ability to block the entry of calcium into blood, muscle and heart cells, allowing body cells to function more efficiently; this is how magnesium relaxes muscles and relieves pain. It thus drives energy into body systems, and stabilises sodium, potassium and calcium movement in the body. Magnesium essentially stabilises muscular and nervous systems in the body, allowing them to function efficiently.
Symptoms of low Magnesium levels
Common symptoms of low magnesium include fatigue, mental confusion, headaches, irritability, weakness, muscle cramping, problems with nerve and muscle contraction, loss of appetite, insomnia, heart disturbances. (2)
“A study on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome treated with supplemental magnesium reported improved energy levels, a better emotional status, and a reduction in pain. The clinical improvement in those receiving magnesium versus placebo was statistically significant in this study.” (3)
“Magnesium supplementation has been shown to be useful for migraines, PMS and dysmenorrhoea. Premenstrual migraines have been shown to respond to magnesium supplementation, due to its effect against vasoconstrictive agents in arteries and veins, in addition to its effect on serotonin and nitric oxide levels.”(4)
Research from Sweden reported oral magnesium supplementation to be effective in treating pregnancy-related leg cramps.(5) Restless leg syndrome (RLS) research has reported oral magnesium supplementation to improve mild to moderate symptoms, including sleep-related limb movement (PLMS) (6)
Do I need to supplement?
Currently there are no definitive blood tests that can be conducted to measure body magnesium levels, as only 1% of body magnesium is found in blood. Holistic practitioners need to review presenting symptoms, diet, stress and lifestyle to accurately gauge individual client needs. Magnesium is one of the most common deficiencies presented in naturopathic, chiropractic and physiotherapy clinic scenarios.
If magnesium supplementation is deemed necessary, you will need to supplement with a therapeutic active form of magnesium, preferably in a powder form for up to 6 weeks to gain elevated tissue magnesium levels.
When supplementing magnesium, it is important you choose a product with enhanced absorption and digestive tolerance. These principally need magnesium in an amino acid chelate form. Formulas like Ultra Mag (magnesium diglycinate) (7) and Meta Mag (magnesium bisglycinate) are superior trade-marked chelated formulations which are available in practitioner range products.
- Zeigler EE, Filer LJ, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. Washington DC: ILSI Press;1996:256.
- Murray Michael T, ND, Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements, Prima Health, 159 – 175.
- Cox IM, Campbell MJ, Dowson D. Red blood cell magnesium and chronic fatigue syndrome. Lancet.1991;337(8744):757-760.
- Facchinetti F, Sances G, Borella P, et al. Magnesium prophylaxis of menstrual migraines: effects on intracellular magnesium. Headache. 1991;31:298-310.
- Dahle LO, Berg G, Hammar M, et al. The effect of oral magnesium substitution on pregnancy-induced leg cramps. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1995 Jul;173(1):175-80.
- Hornyak M, Voderholzer U, Hohagen F, et al. Magnesium therapy for periodic leg movements-related insomnia and restless legs syndrome: an open pilot study. Sleep 1998 Aug 1;21(5):501-5.
- Schuette SA, Lashner BA, Janghorbani M. Bioavailability of magnesium diglycinate vs magnesium oxide in patients with ileal resection. J Parenter Enteral Nutr 1994 Sep-Oct;18(5):430-435.
Article written by Keri Hogarth, Naturopath