Magnesium is the most abundant mineral in the body – and it's a relaxing one. Literally. It relaxes the blood vessels keeping blood pressure nice and healthy; it relaxes smooth muscle, easing cramps; it keeps the nervous system nourished, relaxing little eye and other “nudgy” twitches, and it relaxes you – your mind and spirit – making us more able to handle stress and get better sleep.
Magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions in which it serves as a co-enyzme – meaning the reaction can't happen without magnesium as a partner. It supports functions as wide ranging as keeping your heart rate steady to helping with the production of glutathione necessary for detoxification processes in your liver, bone formation and strength, protein synthesis, to keeping your blood sugar steady. So it's no wonder that one of the signs of magnesium insufficiency is chocolate craving – because chocolate is rich in magnesium.
It's also one of the minerals I recommend the most frequently in my medical practice, and I want to share with you how I use it, so you can take care of any of the symptoms I mentioned above easily and naturally (if you start magnesium and they improve, that suggests that low magnesium was the cause) and learn how simple it is to use.
You might wonder why we get low in magnesium. It's because the modern food supply strips our food of this nutrient, and depletes our bodies. Food processing, such as refining grains in ways that remove the nutrient-rich germ and bran, lower magnesium content substantially – another important reason to avoid processed, packaged foods. Also, coffee and soda deplete this mineral, and often, we're just not getting a varied enough magnesium-rich diet to keep up with our needs.
Fortunately, magnesium is found in a wide variety of super healthy foods. Dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are good sources.
Supplementing with magnesium
Here's a rundown of how I recommend magnesium – please note that I am mostly using magnesium glycinate, which is highly absorbable – except for treating constipation, in which case I'm using another highly absorbable form – magnesium citrate. Only the citrate form acts as a laxative – so if you're taking the other kind, no need to worry about running to the bathroom!
- For eye twitches, restless legs and other muscle cramps: 600-1200 mg magnesium glycinate daily until the symptom is completely gone, then 600-1000 mg daily for several months. For restless legs make sure to take at least 600mg before bed each night.
- For difficulty falling or staying asleep: 600-1200 mg magnesium glycinate before bed
- For menstrual cramps: 800-1200 mg magnesium glycinate daily for 3 days before your period starts, and for the first 2 days of your period
- For constipation: 400-600 mg magnesium citrate before bed, or up to 600 mg magnesium citrate twice daily until it starts working, which should be in a just a few days after starting it. If your stools get on the looser side, drop back a dose – the proper dose is one that gives you a healthy, soft but firm stool daily.
- Sugar, chocolate or other sweet cravings, or problems with your blood sugar: 600-1200 mg magnesium glycinate daily
- It’s also one of the go-to remedies in my migraine prevention plan. This plan has helped many of my patients to overcome chronic migraines – and I hope it brings you tremendous relief, too.
Are there any cautions?
Are there any cautions? Yes, a few. If you have high blood pressure and are on medications for it, magnesium can add to the blood pressure lowering effect; while this might be a great thing because your doctor might be able to work with you to lower your BP medication dose, it can also contribute to your BP dropping too low, so check with your doctor before starting; ditto that if you are on any medications for hearth rhythm control. And if you have kidney disease, please check with your doctor before taking magnesium.
Is this safe to take while you are pregnant and breastfeeding? Generally, yes, but it's always a good idea to check with your midwife or doctor before taking anything while you're pregnant.
If you'd like to hear me chat about this topic, tune into Natural MD Radio where I talk about magnesium for women, too! And make sure to leave a review on iTunes!
To your best health and happiest life,