A Magical Mineral: Magnesium
Magnesium is an essential mineral which is involved in over 500 different reactions in the body, with crucial roles in maintaining nerve and muscle function. It is required for building strong bones, supporting heart function, digestive health, mood, sleep, nerve function, and muscle contractions.
Magnesium helps in our digestion by regulating the muscles in the digestive tract to keep food moving through the gut. It also promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria and reduces inflammation in the gut. It is an essential ingredient in our stomach acid. It can help with heartburn and reflux as it can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing the stomach to empty food into the small intestine rather than it coming back up into the esophagus, which leads to burning and pain. Our body sends stress signals to the brain when we are restricting, lack food variety, have blood sugar dysregulation from choosing an imbalance in our food choices, or have life stressors. Stress quickly depletes magnesium in our body which is often why we cannot digest our food properly, resulting in gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.
I want to discuss the different types of magnesium as I want you to understand how amazing and complex this mineral is. Each type comes in its own form through supplements, but I am not recommending you take a magnesium supplement as I would never recommend that without you first consulting your healthcare provider. Keep in mind that all minerals in our body work in cohesion with each other. So, if we have too much or too little magnesium, potassium phosphorus, or sodium, it impacts all the other minerals and can negatively impact functions in our body. This blog is purely to give you some insight into the huge role that magnesium has in our body. Though supplements can have a role in health, I’d rather encourage clients to consume magnesium through food, since food contains all forms of magnesium, not just one specific type. A great way to get it through food is by adding leafy greens, legumes, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, cashews, almonds, soy milk, whole wheat, oatmeal, bananas, brown rice, cocoa, basil, dill, or parsley.
Let’s explore some of the most common forms of magnesium.
1. Magnesium Oxide: Magnesium oxide is one of the most common types of magnesium that is used in supplements and often has a laxative effect, so it is not my favorite one to recommend. Keep in mind that diarrhea can deplete minerals even further so any form of laxative is not helpful and can be very harmful. This type of magnesium works by drawing water into the colon which allows the stool to pass easier. It is also often used to support bone health.
2. Magnesium Citrate: This form of magnesium is often used to help relieve constipation, but it can cause digestive upset in some people. It also has a unique way of helping acid reflux and heartburn due to how it interacts with stomach acid.
3. Magnesium Glycinate: Magnesium glycinate is often used to support muscle and nerve function by having a calming effect on the body and brain. It can help relieve stress as it can cross the blood-brain barrier. It is also very gentle on the stomach which makes it a good choice for people who have sensitive stomachs. It can aid in relaxation, sleep, muscle tension and cramping.
4. Magnesium Malate: This form can aid in reducing fatigue and improve energy levels.
5. Magnesium Threonate: This type of magnesium is believed to be particularly beneficial for cognitive function and brain health. It can cross the blood-brain barrier, allowing it to have a direct impact on the brain.
6. Magnesium Chloride: Magnesium chloride is often used in topical applications such as in sprays or oils. It is easily absorbed through the skin and may help to alleviate muscle pain and tension.
7. Magnesium Sulfate: Epsom salt baths are an example of this form of magnesium. It is absorbed through the skin to help with sleep, detoxification, and reduce stress.
Now can you see why I love this magical mineral so much? It is so complex and is so important for a plethora of vital functions in the body. Hopefully this gives you a reason to focus more on getting a wide variety of food in, especially ones which contain magnesium, as they have healing components for our body and mind.