Do you know the magnesium form your body needs?

Posted on: June 10th, 2016 by Sarah No Comments

You may remember from science class that magnesium is a gray mineral that is the ninth most-abundant element in the universe. It is also the fourth most-abundant mineral in the body, in which about 60% of it is found in bone. A lack of magnesium has little effect on our stature, but it affects so much of our body’s functions.

Most Americans are not aware they are likely deficient in this important substance. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition discovered that 68% of American adults consume less than the recommended daily allowance of magnesium, and 19% don’t even get half the magnesium that they should. Is simply consuming more magnesium the right answer? Surprisingly, no.

There are a number of types of magnesium, and each form has unique benefits that make it better for some people than others. This article is intended to serve as a guide to help walk you through the different types of magnesium and teach how each form provides benefits for different health concerns.

Magnesium Aspartate – Muscle Energy

A study from the Journal of Nutrition found that those with low levels of magnesium use more energy during moderate activity and, as a result, tire more quickly than those with adequate levels. When magnesium levels are too low, muscles need more oxygen and more energy to function properly. This could explain the suspected connection between low magnesium and chronic fatigue syndrome. A review of relevant studies, published in Magnesium Research, confirmed that magnesium is vital for muscle function and that even a small deficiency can amplify the negative consequences of strenuous exercise.

A study of swimmers taking 65 mg of magnesium found an 86% reduction in muscle cramps. These reductions occurred only after 3 days of supplementation. Additionally, in a double-blind randomized control study of 23 triathletes competing in a 500 meter swim, a 20 km bicycle race, and a 5 km run, it was found that those supplementing with magnesium saw their times decrease in swimming, cycling, and running when compared to those who were not.

Magnesium aspartate is a combination of two substances that are important for cellular energy production – magnesium and aspartic acid. Aspartic acid is an amino acid that many athletes supplement with to enhance athletic performance. More evidence is needed to be sure of this approach, but the extra-strength Magnesium Aspartate 2X, by Douglas Laboratories, is a great supplement for supporting an active lifestyle because it includes 200 mg of magnesium plus the electrolyte potassium that is needed for muscle energy.  Potassium supports the nerve signal transmission and muscle contraction essential for physical activity. Many athletes know that a natural source of magnesium and potassium is in bananas, but a medium banana only has about 32 mg (or 8%) of the daily recommended value of magnesium.

Magnesium Oxide – Constipation

The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that linked low magnesium intake with an increased prevalence of constipation. The researchers hypothesized that magnesium can act as a light laxative by increasing water levels in the digestive tract. After the instestines have enough water to move waste through in wavelike motions (called peristalsis), magnesium relaxes the digestive tract (which is one long muscle) and allows the body to expel waste. Most forms of magnesium are not laxatives at normal doses, but the one that appears to be effective at treating constipation is magnesium oxide.

Magnesium oxide is simply magnesium bonded to oxygen. This is the least well-absorbed form of magnesium. However, according to a study from Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery, this is exactly what makes it so effective in relieving constipation. Magnesium ions, especially in magnesium oxide, are poorly absorbed by the gut and this helps attract water, making a good environment for getting waste moving. If you would like to keep a safe, gentle, and natural constipation relief aid on hand for when you need it, try Magnesium Oxide by Douglas Laboratories.

Magnesium Glycinate – Pain

A study from the European Journal of Anesthesiology noted that magnesium significantly helps to block the perception of pain in both humans and animals; primarily due to the regulation of calcium levels in the cells. The researchers concluded that continuous magnesium infusions before, during, and after surgery can greatly reduce the need for painkilling drugs.

Since magnesium helps muscles relax, it makes sense that it could reduce muscle pain. The British Journal of Anesthesia published similar work that seems to confirm magnesium’s role in pain management. The study gave half the participants magnesium and the other half a placebo and found that, starting at 20 to 30 minutes after administration, the magnesium group submitted significantly lower pain scores. The researchers attributed this dulling of pain perception to magnesium’s ability to block the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor.

Magnesium glycinate (magnesium bonded to the amino acid glycine) is a good form to try for maximizing magnesium’s pain-relief benefits because glycine is a well-known calming amino acid (relaxing neurotransmitter). This particular form may be good for chronic pain sufferers not only during the day, but also at night when pain might otherwise disrupt the ability to relax and get to sleep.  Magnesium (glycinate) by Pure Encapsulations uses high-quality magnesium glycinate and includes a small amount of fat-soluble vitamin C to help with absorption.

Magnesium Threonate – Brain

Scientists have long known that magnesium is important for brain health. A study from Medical Hypothesis confirmed that magnesium can be effective in treating depression and other mental disorders and a study from Neurotherapeutics explains how magnesium levels plummet after a brain injury and that certain magnesium treatments may help in the recovery from such an injury. Magnesium threonate is a relatively new form of magnesium that holds a lot of potential as a supporter of brain function.

A new study, published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, suggests that magnesium threonate may be able to improve certain functions of the brain; especially in older adults. The test subjects who took magnesium threonate saw significant improvements on a test of managing time, paying attention, planning, organizing, remembering details, and avoiding saying or doing the wrong thing. This study is new, small in sample size, and has some limitations, but if you would like to try replicating the treatment in the study and see if magnesium threonate can bring you similar results, NeuroMag by Designs for Health uses the exact same kind of magnesium threonate as was used in the study.

Magnesium Taurate – Heart

Magnesium is an important mineral for proper heart health. A study from American Journal of Cardiology linked intake of magnesium with a reduced risk of the dangerous plaque buildup inside the heart’s arteries known as coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease can cause heart attacks.

Magnesium taurate is a less commonly-known form of magnesium that is known for its cardiovascular benefits, since it focuses more on blood pressure and maintaining a regular heartbeat. Since magnesium and the amino acid taurine both have hearth-health properties, the combination appears to be highly effective. According to a study from the Journal of Hypertension, magnesium taurate has the ability to not only improve heart function but also significantly reduce high blood pressure and keep heartbeats from becoming irregular. Magnesium taurine helps to remove the intracellular sodium and calcium that can keep blood pressure high and alter the heart’s natural rhythm. For a great heart health combination, consider Douglas Laboratories’ Magnesium Taurate to get the heart benefits that magnesium has to offer.

Magnesium Citrate – All Purpose

If you just want a high-quality form of magnesium or your health care practitioner says that you are magnesium deficient, magnesium citrate is often the best way to go for most people. Magnesium is typically best absorbed in acidic environments such as the stomach, but a study from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that magnesium citrate is so bioavailable that it is even highly absorbable in water. The University of Maryland Medical Center Reference Guide also recommends magnesium citrate as a form most people should consider due to its superior absorption. Magnesium citrate is very versatile, and is known to offer some of the benefits of the other forms listed here in this article. Pure Encapsulations makes a great, affordable supplement in this form called Magnesium (citrate).

Where Else Can I Get Magnesium?

It is always ideal to get vitamins, minerals, and other important substances from whole food sources whenever possible, and magnesium is no different. Magnesium is found in many foods, such as dark leafy greens, beans and lentils, avocados, bananas, and dried fruit.

However, these are foods that many do not eat on a regular basis, thus helping to explain one of the reasons why many are so deficient in magnesium. Assuming that the magnesium in the foods you are eating is about as absorbable as the magnesium citrate, it would take about 15 figs, 3 and a half cups of sliced bananas, or 3 whole avocados to equal the amount of magnesium found in just one 150 mg supplement.

Whatever source you get your magnesium from, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends that adult men get at least 400 mg a day and that women get at least 310 mg. The exact amount needed can be a little higher for teenagers, people over 50 and women who are pregnant. Since not all forms of magnesium are equally absorbed, and some people may need less or more than the general guidelines, these goals are a good mark to aim for but it’s a good idea to speak with your health care practitioner for a recommendation that is tailored to your needs.

Additionally, many drugs reduce the body’s ability to absorb magnesium or the drugs may be more or less effective when taken with magnesium supplements. The FDA recently warned that popular proton pump inhibitor drugs used to treat heartburn (such as Prilosec®) may cause low magnesium levels, so make sure your doctor knows about all medications and supplements you are taking.

No matter what specific health concerns are at the front of your mind, almost all of us could benefit from more magnesium, but it is important that you get the right type for you.  I hope this information makes magnesium’s benefits and importance more clear and encourages you to explore what magnesium can do for you.  If you have any questions regarding the concepts discussed here or anything else, you can reach our customer service team at 888-460-3091 or e-mail them at customerservice@oakwaynaturals.com.

Yours in health,

Dr. Gregg Gittins

Our top pick is...

Magnesium activates the enzymes necessary for a number of physiological functions, including neuromuscular contractions, cardiac function, and the regulation of the acid- alkaline balance in the body. It is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids and fats; also for energy production, and the utilization of calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium.

You may remember from science class that magnesium is a gray mineral that is the ninth most abundant element in the universe, but most Americans are not aware they are likely deficient in this important substance. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition discovered that 68% of American adults consume less than the recommended daily allowance of magnesium and 19% don’t even get half the magnesium that they should. Is simply consuming more magnesium the right answer? Surprisingly, no.

There are a number of types of magnesium, and each form has unique benefits that make it better for some people than others. This article is intended to serve as a guide to help walk you through the different types of magnesium and teach how each form provides benefits for different health concerns.

Magnesium Aspartate – Muscle Energy
Magnesium Aspartate – Muscle Energy

A study from the Journal of Nutrition found that those with low levels of magnesium use more energy during moderate activity and, as a result, tire more quickly than those with adequate levels. When magnesium levels are too low, muscles need more oxygen and more energy to function properly.

Magnesium aspartate is a combination of two substances that are important for cellular energy production – magnesium and aspartic acid. The extra-strength Magnesium Aspartate 2X, by Douglas Laboratories, is a great supplement for supporting an active lifestyle because it includes 200 mg of magnesium plus the electrolyte potassium that is needed for muscle energy.

Magnesium Oxide – Constipation
Magnesium Oxide – Constipation

Magnesium oxide is simply magnesium bonded to oxygen. This is the least well-absorbed form of magnesium. However, according to a study from Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery, this is exactly what makes it so effective in relieving constipation. Magnesium ions, especially in magnesium oxide, are poorly absorbed by the gut and this helps attract water, making a good environment for getting waste moving. If you would like to keep a safe, gentle, and natural constipation relief aid on hand for when you need it, try Magnesium Oxide by Douglas Laboratories.

Magnesium Glycinate – Pain
Magnesium Glycinate – Pain

Since magnesium helps muscles relax, it makes sense that it could reduce muscle pain. Researchers attribute the lessening of pain perception to magnesium’s ability to block the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor.

Magnesium glycinate (magnesium bonded to the amino acid glycine) is a good form to try for maximizing magnesium’s pain-relief benefits because glycine is a well-known calming amino acid (relaxing neurotransmitter). Magnesium (glycinate) by Pure Encapsulations uses high-quality magnesium glycinate and includes a small amount of fat-soluble vitamin C to help with absorption.

Magnesium Threonate – Brain
Magnesium Threonate – Brain

Scientists have long known that magnesium is important for brain health. A study from Medical Hypothesis confirmed that magnesium can be effective in treating depression and other mental disorders and a study from Neurotherapeutics explains how magnesium levels plummet after brain injury and that certain magnesium treatments may help in the recovery from such an injury. Magnesium threonate is a relatively new form of magnesium that holds a lot of potential as a supporter of brain function.

A new study, published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, suggests that magnesium threonate may be able to improve certain functions of the brain; especially in older adults. The test subjects who took magnesium threonate saw significant improvements on a test of managing time, paying attention, planning, organizing, remembering details, and avoiding saying or doing the wrong thing. This study is new, small in sample size, and has some limitations, but if you would like to try replicating the treatment in the study and see if magnesium threonate can bring you similar results, NeuroMag by Designs for Health uses the exact same kind of magnesium threonate as was used in the study.

Magnesium Taurate – Heart
Magnesium Taurate – Heart

Magnesium taurate is a less commonly-known form of magnesium that is known for its cardiovascular benefits, since it focuses more on blood pressure and maintaining a regular heartbeat. Since both magnesium and the amino acid taurine each have the ability to improve heart health, the combination appears to be highly effective. According to one study, magnesium taurate has the ability to not only improve heart function but also significantly reduce high blood pressure and keep heartbeats from becoming irregular. Magnesium taurine helps to remove the intracellular sodium and calcium that can keep blood pressure high and alter the heart’s natural rhythm.

For a great heart health combination, consider Douglas Laboratories’ Magnesium Taurate to get the heart benefits that magnesium has to offer.

Magnesium Citrate – All Purpose
Magnesium Citrate – All Purpose

If none of these health concerns are yours and you either just want a high-quality form of magnesium or your health care practitioner says that you are magnesium deficient, magnesium citrate is the best way to go for most people.

The University of Maryland Medical Center Reference Guide recommends magnesium citrate as a form most people should look at because of its superior absorption. Pure Encapsulations makes a great, affordable supplement in this form called Magnesium (citrate).

Where Else Can I Get Magnesium?
Where Else Can I Get Magnesium?

Magnesium is found in many foods, such as dark leafy greens, beans and lentils, avocados, bananas, and dried fruit. However, these are foods that many do not eat on a regular basis, thus helping to explain one of the reasons why many are so deficient in magnesium. Assuming that the magnesium in the foods you are eating is about as absorbable as the magnesium citrate, it would take about 15 figs, 3 and a half cups of sliced bananas, or 3 whole avocados to equal the amount of magnesium found in just one 150 mg supplement.

Whatever source you get your magnesium from, it’s recommended that adult men get at least 400 mg a day and that women get at least 310 mg. The exact amount needed can be a little higher for teenagers, people over 50 and women who are pregnant.

Additionally, many drugs reduce the body’s ability to absorb magnesium or the drugs may be more or less effective when taken with magnesium supplements. The FDA recently warned that popular proton pump inhibitor drugs used to treat heartburn (such as Prilosec) may cause low magnesium levels, so make sure your doctor knows about all medications and supplements you are taking.

No matter what specific health concerns are at the front of your mind, almost all of us could benefit from more magnesium, but it is important that you get the right type for you. I hope this information makes magnesium’s benefits and importance more clear and encourages you to explore what magnesium can do for you. Should you have questions, or suggestions, please feel free to fill out our Ask the Doctor form found at the Doctors Corner.

Yours in health!

References

King, Douglas, Ph. D., et al., Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Dietary magnesium and C-reactive protein levels. 2005

Lukaski, Henry, Ph.D., and Nielsen, Forrest, Ph.D, The Journal of Nutrition: Dietary Magnesium Depletion Affects Metabolic Responses during Submaximal Exercise in Postmenopausal Women. 2002

Sasaki, S., MD, et al., European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Association between dietary fiber, water and magnesium intake and functional constipation among young Japanese women. 2006

Portalatin, Meredith, MD, and Winstead, Nathaniel, M.D., Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery: Medical Management of Constipation. 2012

Hayes, Kara. MD, et al., European Journal of Anesthesiology: Magnesium infusion reduces perioperative pain. 2002

Brill,. Steven, MD, British Journal of Anesthesia: Efficacy of intravenous magnesium in neuropathic pain. 2002

Eby, George, and Eby, Karen, Medical Hypothesis: Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment. 2006

Sen, Ananda, Ph.D., Neurotherapeutics: Use of magnesium in traumatic brain injury. 2010

Liu, Guosong, Ph.D., et al., Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease: Efficacy and Safety of MMFS-01, a Synapse Density Enhancer, for Treating Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. 2015

Abbott, R.D., Ph. D., et al., American Journal of Cardiology: Dietary magnesium intake and the future risk of coronary heart disease (the Honolulu Heart Program). 2003

Houston, Mark, MD, MS, The Journal of Hypertension: The Role of Magnesium in Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease. 2011

University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium Reference Guide. 2015

Lukaski, Henry, Ph.D., and Nielsen, Forrest, Ph.D, Magnesium Research: Update on the relationship between magnesium and exercise.

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies: Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2016

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