Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed Benefits of Magnesium Part 1 where we explained the importance of sufficient levels of magnesium in the body and how it affects your health and well-being. In part two we will be diving a little deeper into specific symptoms that can be helped by magnesium and some signs that could point to a magnesium deficiency as well as signs of too much magnesium.
To recap: Magnesium is involved in energy production, detoxification and protein synthesis. It keeps your heart beating regularly and your muscles and nervous system working properly. It supports a healthy immune system, regulates blood sugar levels and helps to maintain strong bones and healthy teeth by aiding calcium absorption.
In the past magnesium was primarily thought of as a mineral for the heart and bones, but new research proves that might be misleading. A new study published in the journal BMC Bioinformatics titled, “3,751 magnesium binding sites have been detected on human proteins,” suggests that magnesium, and particularly magnesium deficiency, may have a much greater effect on biological structures in the body and affect a wider range of bodily systems than previously understood.[i].
Recent research shows only about 25 percent of US adults are getting the recommended daily amount of magnesium: 310 to 320 milligrams (mg) for women and 400 to 420 for men[ii]. Some estimate that our modern diets provide less than 250 mg of elemental magnesium daily.
Dr. Carolyn Dean MD, ND, has studied and written about magnesium for more than 15 years. Inside one of her most recent books, published in 2014, The Magnesium Miracle, she lists 22 medical areas that research has proven are triggered by or caused by magnesium deficiency. They include[iii]:
Anxiety and panic attacks Insomnia
Asthma Kidney Disease
Blood clots Liver Disease
Bowel diseases Migraine
Cystitis Musculoskeletal (fibromyalgia, cramps, chronic back pain)
Depression Nerve pain
Detoxification Obstetrics/gynecology (PMS, infertility, and preeclampsia)
Heart Disease Tooth decay
Early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, headache, nausea, fatigue, and weakness. An ongoing magnesium deficiency can lead to more serious symptoms, including:
Numbness and tingling Abnormal Heart rhythms
Muscle contractions and cramps Coronary spasms
Seizures Personality Changes
Seaweed and green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard can be excellent sources of magnesium, as are some beans, nuts, and seeds, like pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds. Peanut butter and avocados also contain magnesium. Juicing and blending your vegetables is an excellent way to ensure you're getting enough in your diet.
While it is generally recommended to get minerals and vitamins from foods, most foods grown today are deficient in magnesium and other minerals, such as zinc and iron, so getting enough magnesium isn't only a matter of eating magnesium-rich foods. According to Dr. Dean:
"Magnesium is farmed out of the soil much more than calcium… A hundred years ago, we would get maybe 500 milligrams of magnesium in an ordinary diet. Now we're lucky to get 200 milligrams."
Herbicides like glyphosate, also known as Roundup Ready, act as chelators, effectively blocking the uptake and utilization of minerals. Glyphosate is banned for use in organic farming. Unfortunately, cooking and processing further depletes magnesium, which can further complicate getting enough magnesium from the diet alone.
Additionally, certain foods can affect the body’s absorption of magnesium as well. Drinking alcohol in excess, for instance, it may interfere with your body's absorption of vitamin D, which in turn is helpful for magnesium absorption. Eating a lot of sugar can also cause your body to excrete magnesium through your kidneys, "resulting in a net loss," according to Dr. Danine Fruge, associate medical director at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Florida. The following factors are also associated with lower magnesium levels:
Excessive intake of soda or caffeine
Old age (older adults are more likely to be magnesium deficient because absorption decreases with age and the elderly are more likely to take medications that can interfere with absorption)
Certain medications, including diuretics, certain antibiotics (such as gentamicin and tobramycin), corticosteroids (prednisone or Deltasone), antacids, and insulin
An unhealthy digestive system, which impairs your body's ability to absorb magnesium (Crohn's disease, leaky gut, etc.)
Potential Magnesium Oil Side Effects
For certain people with existing conditions or sensitivities, they may experience magnesium oil side effects. For example, individuals with low blood pressure should use magnesium oil cautiously. Start with a small amount and short absorption time. Hypotension, aka low blood pressure, is affected easily by salt intake, change in diet and medication, as well as supplements, so it is important to be cautious.
If you are taking an anti-anxiety medication, magnesium supplements may overcorrect your hyperactive nervous system. If it seems like you are becoming too relaxed when combining magnesium and anti-anxiety medication, it’s best to eliminate the magnesium.
Individuals with sensitive skin should test a diluted form of magnesium oil on their skin before applying all over the body, simply add more water to the magnesium oil solution. The usual tingling sensation users experience when applying magnesium oil to the skin is normal. For those with sensitive skin this sensation could be heightened, it is recommend that magnesium oil be applied to wet skin, usually after a shower, to mitigate the stinging sensation.
Hypermagnesemia, an excess of magnesium, is rare. The kidneys work to get rid of excess magnesium that isn’t absorbed by the tissue or intracellularly. Overall, the risk of ever experiencing a magnesium overdose is extremely low for a typically healthy person. Still, for some with certain medical conditions, like impaired kidney function, it is important to discuss the risks of magnesium-containing medications and supplements with your doctor to help ensure your safety. Any prescription drug should be cross-checked to ensure there is not an adverse reaction when taken with magnesium.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, symptoms of excess magnesium levels include:
diarrhea nausea and vomiting
lethargy muscle weakness
irregular heartbeat low blood pressure
urine retention respiratory distress
An IV of calcium gluconate or dialysis can help to reverse the effects of excess magnesium.
Hopefully the information above has answered any questions you had about supplementing topically with magnesium. People who have started a regular magnesium supplementing regimen have seen positive health effects not only in their muscle, joint and Heart health, but also improved sleep and digestion to name a few. With any kind of supplementing, it is important to fully understand the benefits and potential hazards, even if rare. If you take a daily medication, it is recommended that you discuss with your primary doctor before you start supplementing with magnesium on a regular basis. Who knows, maybe you’ll even turn your doctor on to the amazing health benefits of the lost mineral Magnesium.