It plays a vital role in over 300 essential chemical reactions inside your body, yet your body can’t manufacture it. You can only obtain it from diet, and yet a huge number of people in the western world don’t manage to eat enough magnesium-rich foods to keep their bodies working effectively.
What is Magnesium Citrate?
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There are many forms of magnesium and they each have functions to help with specific needs within your body. Magnesium citrate is a mineral form that is bound with citric acid. This is an organic salt that occurs naturally in all citrus fruits and is what gives those fruits a tart, sometimes sour, flavour. Magnesium citrate is gentle in its action when compared with some of the other magnesium compounds and this makes it widely used in many commercially produced medications and frequently prescribed by medical professionals. It dissolves easily in water so can be taken in powder or liquid forms, as well as in capsules or topical applications (through the skin).
What are the Signs of Magnesium Deficiency?
Every tissue in the body needs magnesium. It works alongside nucleic acid to make energy that enables hundreds of enzyme systems to regulate proteins, signal communication between nerves and muscles, control blood pressure, balance blood sugar and aid hormonal function.
Certain medications can put you at risk of magnesium shortage. Such pharmaceutical products as indigestion and acid reflux medication, along with birth control pills, are two such offenders.
Some of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency are:
- Frequent headaches or migraines
- Muscle cramps, spasms, muscular and joint pain
- Mood changes, including anxiety or depression
- Insulin resistance. This often brings about cravings for sweet foods
- Low energy levels
- Pre-menstrual stress
- Cardiac arrhythmia
How To Check Magnesium Levels
The usual way to find out how much magnesium is in your blood is to request a serum magnesium test via your GP. This can be a helpful indication but is not by any means the whole picture as the blood only carries a small percentage of your total body magnesium. A further point to be aware of is that when the body is lacking magnesium in the bloodstream, it will draw on stores from your bones and other body tissue.
This is your body employing an emergency measure and it is likely to happen consistently if you are not taking in enough magnesium through your diet. For this reason, the results of a serum test may be misleading, indicating that your levels are fine when in truth you may have a serious underlying magnesium deficiency.
A more accurate method of testing for magnesium is to evaluate levels in your red blood cells. This shows any underlying deficiency before serum values begin to decrease. The average healthy range is 4.2-6.8 mg/dL, but it is a test that needs to be carried out by a qualified medical practitioner who will also be able to assess the appropriate range for you.
Health Benefits of Magnesium Citrate
- Sleep – To have good quality sleep, and enough of it, your body and brain need to be peaceful and relaxed. Magnesium helps this process along by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. It regulates neurotransmitters which then send signals to the brain. It also regulates melatonin. This is the hormone that signals sleep and wake cycles.
- Digestion – Magnesium citrate has been found to be one of the most bioavailable forms of magnesium, so is easily absorbed by your gut, making it the most widely recommended form of magnesium for helping with constipation. It is one of the group of medications known as saline laxatives and works by causing the intestines to release water into the stool, making it softer and easier to pass. Unlike some forms of magnesium, it has a gentle effect on the digestive system so is a much more tolerable choice for those struggling with constipation.
- Heart – Magnesium helps to regulate the heartbeat with electrical signals that control the heart’s timing. It is often used to prevent and treat arrhythmia. Those suffering from hardened arteries such as with atherosclerosis can be treated with magnesium citrate to help make artery walls softer and more flexible.
- Nerves and Muscles – For nerves and muscles to work together effectively, magnesium, calcium and potassium ions are needed to create the electrical signals that make muscles contract and allow nerves to send electrical signals all over the body.
- Bones, Blood, and DNA – Magnesium citrate helps in controlling the provision of calcium across cell membranes and this plays a vital part in the creation of bone. Bones are also magnesium stores where around 60% of the body’s magnesium is contained. Magnesium keeps blood sugar balanced so is vital for preventing type-2 diabetes and necessary for anyone already diagnosed. As well as playing a major role in making bone, magnesium also makes protein and DNA.
How to Include More Magnesium in Your Diet
A good tip when thinking of boosting magnesium in your regular diet is to associate magnesium with dietary fibre. In almost all cases the foods that contain magnesium are also high in fibre. Go for lots of leafy vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, kale, broccoli. Whole grains such as quinoa, wholemeal bread, inulin bread, brown rice, wholewheat pasta.
Other foods that contain magnesium: nuts, particularly almonds, cashews, and peanuts. Also beans such as edamame and black beans. Seeds are good sources of magnesium, as are oily fish choices such as salmon mackerel, and halibut.
Meats are not generally very high in magnesium, but turkey is an exception.
Certain fruits are good. Bananas, figs, avocados, guavas, kiwi, blackberries, raspberries, cantaloupe melon and grapefruit.
Getting Your Magnesium from Supplements
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 400-420 milligrams per day for adult men and 310-320 mg per day for adult women. During pregnancy women may increase this amount to 350-360 mg per day.
A normal diet should provide most of the RDA for magnesium, so most supplement brands only recommend taking 250 mg per day. It is advised to take capsules or tablets with a large glass of water and at the same time as food.
Our Wholefood Multivitamin and Mineral supplements contain 30mg magnesium citrate (per 2 capsules). A measured amount to help keep those levels on track. As the substances in our product are from wholefood rather than manufactured synthetic sources, almost 100% of the vitamins and minerals can be absorbed and used by the body. Higher doses may be recommended if you are using magnesium citrate as a laxative or an antacid.
Magnesium is also available as a topical application in spray form designed to help with generally boosting magnesium levels. Magnesium Oil Sprays are designed to provide maximum absorption of magnesium through the skin. Bearing in mind that anything applied to the skin passes through into the body, giving much faster absorption than when taken in tablet or capsule form, these formulas will replenish magnesium levels by giving 100 mg of magnesium for every ten sprays. If you have a sensitive digestive system this is a great method of boosting your levels whilst bypassing the gut. As well as helping muscle recovery and easing muscular pain and tension, these sprays will help keep bones, teeth, and skin healthy, balance blood sugar levels and assist with calcium absorption, and help with natural and peaceful sleep.
Long-term use of magnesium at high doses, as with other laxative and antacid medication, both of which can be as high as 5,000 mg per day, may result in magnesium toxicity. Symptoms may include:
- Low blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Facial flushing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cardiac arrest
It is possible that some people may experience diarrhoea and sickness and stomach cramps when taking magnesium citrate as a supplement and in this case, it should be discontinued, or the dose reduced. It is not advisable to take magnesium-based laxatives or antacids for longer than one week without consulting your doctor.
In most cases, for healthy people, even excessive consumption of magnesium citrate will not create a health risk. This is because healthy kidneys filter-out excess magnesium from the bloodstream, so the body retains only what it needs for optimal function.
What the Scientists are Saying
Medical research is publishing papers outlining new evidence that confirms that almost two-thirds of the population of the western world has magnesium levels that fall short of the recommended daily allowance. This deficiency is certainly contributing to many health issues. A review published in Scientifica (Cairo), states:
‘Level I evidence supports the use of magnesium in the prevention and treatment of many common health conditions including migraine headache, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, asthma premenstrual syndrome, preeclampsia, and various cardiac arrhythmias.’
It goes on to say that magnesium may also be considered for prevention of renal calculi and cataract formation, as an adjunct or treatment for depression. The published research also verifies:
‘In clinical practice, the use of magnesium through diet and supplementation appears to be a safe, useful, and a well-documented therapy for several medical conditions.’
These findings are a reassuring factor in the decision to include more magnesium-rich foods in your diet and if you still notice signs or symptoms that could be due to depleted levels, to choose a magnesium supplement from a trusted and ethical source.
When it comes to keeping you informed on health and nutrition, we’re here for you and aim to always be a source of science-backed information.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of using natural supplements, or would find advice helpful, please feel free to contact us on 01297 553932.