As many of my patients will attest, magnesium is one of my favourite minerals. I prescribe it often for both male and female patients to help with hormone balance, sleep, athletic recovery and performance, PMS, menopausal symptoms, and adrenal fatigue, along with other conditions. Why do I love it so much? First – because most of us are deficient in magnesium. Second – because fixing the deficiency helps patients start to feel better almost immediately.
The reason most of us are deficient in magnesium is because when we’re under stress, and the adrenal glands are imbalanced, there is a physiological shift in magnesium concentrations – cells actively excrete magnesium from inside the cell to outside; from there it is excreted through the urine. Over long periods of time, this magnesium loss results in a magnesium deficiency.
For most of us, stress (and thus magnesium deficiency) is an inevitable part of life.
Here are a few reasons you should consider taking some extra magnesium:
1. magnesium supports the stress systems: magnesium is involved in the production and processing of cortisol, the main stress hormone in the body. Under times of high stress, magnesium calms the nervous system and reduces overall cortisol levels – balancing the stress response.
2. magnesium helps you sleep deeper: magnesium deficient people often feel like their sleep is restless, light, or that they always feel like they’re “on the edge of sleep,” as opposed to getting a truly restful, restorative deep sleep. Magnesium taken before bed time can help to relax the nervous and muscular systems of the body to bring on a deeper, more restorative sleep.
3. hormones need magnesium for balance: it is required for the production of sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in the body. Magnesium has been shown to reduce hot flashes of menopause and reduce the fluid retention associated with PMS. Headaches, menstrual cramps, hot flashes, bloating, and mood swings related to hormone imbalance often show improvement after just a single cycle of replenishing magnesium.
4. you need magnesium for bone health: magnesium helps the body properly utilize calcium and vitamin D, two of the most important nutrients for bone health. Without the cofactors required to get it into the bones, calcium ends up being stored in the soft tissues of the body (think arteries and veins) where it can increase the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular events. Taking calcium alongside magnesium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients like vitamin K2, boron and manganese, increases the likelihood that it will be taken up and used by the bones.
5. magnesium improves the metabolic profile: this recent study showed that oral magnesium supplementation lowered blood pressure, improved insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, and lowered triglycerides (a form of cholesterol) in normal-weight individuals with metabolic syndrome. I use magnesium with all patients who have blood sugar control issues, especially in all patients with PCOS and elevated HOMA-IR (measure of insulin resistance).
6. magnesium will help you live longer: there is research that suggests magnesium helps to elongate telomeres, which are the little caps that protect DNA from unwinding too fast and aging our cells quickly. An enzyme called telomerase, which lengthens telomeres, is magnesium dependent – meaning that deficiency of magnesium will cause your cells to age faster, and taking magnesium is an anti-aging strategy.
The form of magnesium that is appropriate for any person will differ depending on their symptom picture. Magnesium citrate is helpful for constipation and will also confer the above benefits. I often use magnesium bisglycinate, as it does not affect the bowels and has a more specific action on the nervous and muscular systems. Giving magnesium intravenously is the quickest and most effective way to get it into the system, bypassing the absorption requirement of the intestines, but oral magnesium supplementation often works quite well.
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