The Vital Role of Magnesium in Health
Everything you need to Megadose Magnesium
Magnesium is one of the most important and versatile minerals in the body. It is responsible for thousands of processes in the body. Ignore it at your own peril.
Hypomagnesemia (low magnesium levels) is far more common than people realize. This study shows worse outcomes in those with low magnesium levels. It’s hard to tell if this is a correlation or causal, but the data are clear.
The issue with magnesium is its bioavailability. The body is very good a processing and excreting magnesium in both urine and feces. For that reason, it can be challenging to maintain a healthy level of magnesium.
This is especially true when you consider the average American diet. Magnesium is highest in foods like nuts, seeds, seafood, chicken, leafy vegetables, and others. All things the average American doesn’t eat. Since magnesium isn’t highly bioavailable in food, most people don’t get enough.
The data shows that supplementing magnesium orally is most effective when you are at or near physiologic levels. If you are far below physiologic levels then IV magnesium works the best to top you up. If you are close to, or at healthy levels, supplementing may work well.
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When supplementing magnesium, frequency is just as important as form. Since the body excretes magnesium so efficiently it must be taken frequently, if not consumed in the regular diet. This means up to 3 or 4 times per day.
Let’s get into it. As always, talk to your doctor first.
This is, perhaps, my favorite form of magnesium. Magnesium glycinate is the most bioavailable form of magnesium. The magnesium is chelated and bound to glycine, and amino acid. This improves the availability.
Magnesium Glycinate is most commonly used to improve sleep. It reduces anxiety and helps relax muscles. That is a perfect combination for sleep. If you are having difficulty sleeping, give it a try.
When trying magnesium supplements it’s all about finding the best dose for you personally. The best way to do this is to start low and increase your dose over time.
I have personally used this brand. While it’s probably not the highest quality on the market, it’ll give you a good sense of whether or not this supplement will work for you. If you find it beneficial you can invest in high-quality sources.
Another benefit of magnesium glycinate is reduced side effect profile. Because it is chelated to glycine, the GI side effects common to magnesium are significantly reduced. Most people have no issue tolerating this form, as long as it’s taken at proper doses.
Everyone has muscle pains at some point in their life. It can be very uncomfortable, even debilitating. I would argue the majority of people with nerve-related pain are likely experiencing secondary nerve pain caused primarily by myofascial (muscle and connective tissue) dysfunction.
When the muscles are tight they squeeze on the blood vessels and nerves in the area. This leads to unusual firing of nerves, restriction of blood flow, and so on.
Magnesium chloride is a fantastic option for muscle tension. Magnesium is absorbed through the skin and acts locally where it’s sprayed. So if you have a tight low back a few squirts of magnesium chloride may be exactly what you need.
There are dozens of brands out there. I haven’t personally tried most of them but have recommended this one to a family member with excellent results.
A more efficient way to buy this if you’re using it often is to buy magnesium flakes and make your own. You must be careful to use the correct ratios if you go this route. However, you will get more bang for your buck and a cleaner supply using this method.
Be careful not to go overboard. You don’t need a whole bottle, just a couple of squirts.
This is another form of magnesium bound to an amino acid - taurine. Taurine plays many different roles in the body. It helps maintain cellular hydration, regulates the immune system, supports the nervous system, and more.
Taurine tends to be pretty safe. There are no real side effects reported up to about 6000 mg per day which is about 10x the recommended dose, depending on who you read. Some people get GI distress, headache, and abdominal pain when they take high doses. It’s likely this is due to the other compounds in taurine supplements.
Taurine is often touted for its ability to improve cardiovascular health. Higher levels of taurine are correlated with lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart disease. Again, it’s hard to know if this is causal or simply correlated.
There are plenty of other benefits of taurine itself that you are welcome to research. We may cover them in a future article.
By sticking magnesium onto taurine, the bioavailability remains high. This is a good option if you are looking to add magnesium supplements, especially in the morning. If you take magnesium glycinate at night and get drowsy, magnesium taurate may be the better option for the morning.
In my experience, this is the supplement that makes people hate magnesium supplements. It’s dirt cheap so it tends to be what people grab first over the counter, and it’s almost always what they give you in the hospital if your magnesium is low.
This is basically pure elemental magnesium. When you ingest it, it pulls water into the intestines and gives you diarrhea. For that reason, its best use is for constipation, in my opinion. If you struggle with this, it may be worthwhile taking a magnesium oxide supplement once or twice per day.
While it’s not highly bioavailable, the body will absorb some magnesium. Make sure you aren’t going overboard.
This is pretty similar to magnesium oxide. It’s slightly easier for the body to absorb so it may help increase your magnesium levels a bit. However, it’s another common laxative. It has the same effects as mag oxide, pulling water into the intestines and giving you explosive diarrhea when taken at high doses.
If you want to use this form (it’s also cheap), start very low and assess your tolerance.
This form is bound to malic acid. Again, this increases the absorption.
Malic acid is found in fruits. It’s also added to different foods as a flavoring and found in skin care/hygiene products. Once inside the body, it is part of the Krebs cycle which is how the body produces energy.
There honestly isn’t much to say about this form of magnesium in my opinion. It works and helps make magnesium easier to absorb. Try it and see if you like it.
This is magnesium bound to orotic acid to increase bioavailability. There is some evidence it helps improve cardiovascular outcomes. However, the data is sketchy. There is also some evidence it promotes tumor growth at higher doses.
Overall this is not my favorite form of magnesium. In fact, I probably wouldn’t touch it.
Magnesium gluconate, magnesium aspartate, magnesium hydroxide, and so on. There are plenty of others and there will continue to be more. Long story short, you have to try these forms and see how you react.