When it comes to our bones, everyone places a large emphasis on calcium and vitamin D, but magnesium is often completely left out of the equation! Magnesium is vital for our bones and overall health, yet so many of us are not getting enough. This is a problem I frequently see with my clients, and it can really cause trouble.
Magnesium is needed for more than 300 chemical reactions in our bodies. It is important for our heart, nerves, muscles, blood sugar, energy production, sleep, and more. Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include fatigue, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, migraine headaches, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, leg cramps, and restless leg syndrome. The majority of Americans consume less than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium, which for women over 30 is 320 mg and 420 for men over 30. Many practitioners feel that a higher total intake is beneficial.
With regards to our bones, magnesium helps the body absorb and utilize calcium, as well as vitamin D. Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, notes that magnesium regulates the amount of calcium in a person’s body and ensures it is directed toward building stronger bones. Taking too much calcium without enough magnesium can cause excess calcium to be deposited in the wrong places such as the kidneys, coronary arteries, and cartilage rather than in the bones.
I suggest that my clients get at least half as much magnesium as calcium. Research shows that magnesium supplementation increases bone density and reduces bone loss in postmenopausal women.
I am a big proponent of getting your calcium and magnesium from food first and only supplementing if you don’t have enough in your diet. Magnesium is found in leafy green vegetables, beans, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruit.
Unlike calcium, magnesium content is not listed on food labels. You can find out this information by going to the USDA Nutrient Database.
The amount of magnesium in our food is dependent upon the amount of magnesium in the soil it is grown in. Unfortunately, soil from conventional farms is frequently depleted of magnesium due to farming practices and fertilizers. Purchasing organic food will increase the likelihood that it will have higher magnesium levels. Magnesium is removed in refined products such as sugar, white rice, and white flour. Excess alcohol intake, phosphoric acid in sodas, antibiotics, beta-blockers, diuretics, and chronic stress all reduce magnesium levels.
The easiest supplements to absorb are magnesium citrate, chelate, and glycinate. Magnesium citrate is helpful for constipation due to its laxative properties. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about integrating magnesium into your diet. It is always best to take magnesium supplements more than two hours before any medication. People with kidney disease or severe heart disease should take magnesium supplements only under a doctor’s supervision.
Another great way to get magnesium is by taking Epsom salt baths or foot baths. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. It is absorbed through your skin. I personally like Dr. Mark Hyman’s recipe for the “Ultra Bath”; 2 cups of Epsom salt, ½ cup of baking soda, and 10 drops of lavender oil into the bath water. It is extremely relaxing and can help with sleep. You can also use magnesium bath flakes. One brand I like is Ancient Minerals. Additionally, magnesium can be applied topically by using magnesium oil, gel, or lotion. As a bonus, these magnesium products can help alleviate tension headaches and muscle pain.
So, don’t forget the magnesium. It can have a huge impact on your bones and overall health.
Lastly, in case you missed it, check out last week’s Power Tip:
Power Tip #9 | Minimize Screen Exposure after the Sun Goes Down