Minerals, and magnesium specifically is one of my favorite topics.
Because it’s so essential to our health, and yet most of us are deficient!
How can that be?
Well, testing for magnesium levels isn’t always accurate. When we do blood labs, only about 1% of magnesium is found in the blood, while the rest resides in tissues, muscles, and bones. Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis rests are much more accurate but that’s unfortunately not the main tool used in most doctor’s offices.
Why we need it:
Our bodies require magnesium to produce ATP, the precious energy we need in every cell of our bodies. In fact, APT is prefaced with magnesium in its name, Mg-ATP.
Magnesium is the second most abundant mineral in our cells and is required for over 300 different functions in our body. Some of the things that magnesium does:
- regulates nerve + muscle function
- maintains bone health + structure
- aids in DNA replication
- protects the heart muscles
- produces energy + protein
- supports the immune system
It is estimated that around 70% of adults in the US do not meet recommended magnesium intake (keep in mind that the recommended daily allowance is the minimum to keep you alive, but not to thrive).
Magnesium deficiency is linked to:
- high blood pressure
- brain damage
- heart disease
- increased risk of cancer
- muscle spasms
- brain fog
- suppression of adrenal glands
How it works:In order to be biologically active, ATP must be bound to a magnesium ion. Magnesium is also a co-factor for enzymes that are required for mitochondria to synthesize their genome to be able to produce more mitochondria. When we are low in magnesium, this synthesis cannot happen, and our energy stores are depleted.
Magnesium acts as a calcium channel blocker. Calcium blockers work by preventing calcium from going into your arteries and heart cells and can reduce blood pressure and potential heart attacks. While there are many drugs on the market that do this in order to treat hypertension (high blood pressure), magnesium does this naturally by balancing out calcium without side effects (such as calcium overflowing into other areas of the body).
Magnesium interacts very closely with calcium. When there is an excess of calcium in the body, our kidneys try to hold on to as much magnesium as they can in order to keep sodium and potassium in balance. Our adrenal glands then become suppressed which causes our body to dump sodium and potassium via urine. Over time, the sodium-potassium pump malfunctions and leads to cellular metabolic failure if we don't have enough magnesium and over-supplement calcium. Since the sodium/potassium pump generates electrical impulses, a mineral imbalance can lead to irregular heartbeat + other heart issues since our heartbeat is affected by these electrical impulses.
Our heart also depends on ATP, as heart muscle cells contain the highest concentration of mitochondria in the body.
Why we lack it:
So why are we so deficient in this important mineral?
- Magnesium, in the form of bicarbonate salts is no longer in our water supply. Before severe pollution and industrial water filtration, natural water sources were full of magnesium in the form of bicarbonate salts. Now, our main water sources come from filtration centers which add things like fluoride to our water supply. Fluoride depletes magnesium and also makes it difficult for the body to absorb it. Water used to be the main way our ancestors got magnesium.
- When we get magnesium through our diet, poor absorption due to gut issues and excess calcium makes it difficult for our bodies to make use of the minerals we're ingesting.
- Another way that magnesium gets depleted from our bodies is due to certain drugs. Common medications like Proton Pump Inhibitors (used to treat acid reflux) deplete magnesium, and some of these drugs even have black box warnings since low magnesium levels can be deadly. Many pharmaceutical drugs also contain fluoride.
- Stress hormones can also deplete magnesium.
How to get it:
The single most bio-available form of magnesium is magnesium bicarbonate, and it's only available in water.
In order for water to be able to conduct electricity, it needs minerals, or salts. Our bodies are bio-electric, and therefore need water that is able to conduct electricity.
Magnesium capsules do not ionize in water, and therefore are not well absorbed.
Magnesium bicarbonate is made by combining magnesium hydroxide and carbon dioxide, which can be found in sparkling water.
The two magnesium bicarbonate products that I use are:
Both need to be mixed with carbonated water or used with a soda stream. While this might seem like a lot of extra effort, I can assure you that the bio-availability of this critical mineral is worth the extra 5 minutes a week. At this point, many will protest that they don’t like carbonated water. Don’t worry, all the carbonation is gone once the conversion from magnesium hydroxide to bicarbonate happens.
The water then doesn’t taste like anything at all. It’s super easy to take, and it’s way simpler for kids, too.
My other favorite way to get a magnesium boost is through magnesium bath flakes! Not only is it absorbed well, but it also helps with sore muscles, which I usually desperately need after the gym. My favorites are from Environmedica and Life-Flo! You can also buy my bath mix which has both magnesium flakes (magnesium chloride) and magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts). It's mixed with organic mustard powder, which is very warming and great for sore muscles or an achy body. Shop for it here!
Have you ever experienced the symptoms of magnesium deficiency? Most of us have, and the absurdly low RDA isn’t helping us. Given how much calcium is in our food and most supplements, we need a lot more magnesium to counteract its effects!
Let me know your experience in the comments!