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Why Magnesium is Essential to Your Health … And Why You’re Likely Not Getting Enough

Tightness, tension, muscle spasms. These are often signs of a magnesium deficiency. This critical mineral is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, yet over half of Americans are deficient in it.

What is magnesium and why is it important?

Magnesium is an essential mineral, meaning people have to obtain it through diet because the body doesn’t produce an adequate amount of it on its own.

“It’s found in all tissues in the body, but mainly in bones, muscles, and the brain,” said Dr. John Fulginiti, a surgeon who specializes in wound care and integrative medicine. “Magnesium is involved in hundreds of enzyme reactions in the body and is needed for cells to make energy and for many different chemical pumps to work. It’s also crucial for stabilizing membranes and relaxing muscles.”

It plays a role in blood pressure, DNA synthesis, energy production, sleep, stress reduction, blood sugar regulation, and muscle and nerve function, just to name a few things.

In other words, it’s very important to human health. Because magnesium plays a vital role in so many bodily functions, symptoms of magnesium deficiency can be far reaching. Common symptoms include anxiety, heart palpitations, muscle cramps and twitches, insomnia, constipation, migraines, fatigue, fibromyalgia, and IBS.

Why most people aren’t getting enough

According to Dr. Fulginiti, there are a number of reasons why magnesium deficiency is so widespread. First of all, many Americans eat a diet centered around high-processed, refined foods, which are essentially devoid of magnesium. Instead, magnesium-rich foods should be favored including leafy greens, sea vegetables, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, avocado, tofu, figs, shrimp, beans, garlic, and dark chocolate.

While a healthy diet will help prevent or reverse magnesium deficiency to a certain degree, diet alone typically isn’t enough. “Our soil has lower levels of vitamins and minerals than it used to, which can make us vulnerable to deficiencies of all kinds, including magnesium,” said Dr. Fulginiti.

Additionally, certain medications, illnesses (such as GI disorders, diabetes, or alcoholism), stress, and excess soda, coffee, and salt consumption can deplete the body of this important mineral.

Is magnesium supplementation necessary?

When all of the above-mentioned factors are considered, it’s not surprising that so many people are deficient in magnesium. To counter these factors, taking a magnesium supplement is recommended.

“The RDA for magnesium is around 300mg a day, but most people get much less. I find the RDA recommendation is quite low to begin with,” said Dr. Fulginiti. “Most will benefit from 400mg to 1,000mg per day, depending on their condition.”

There are many forms of magnesium available and some are more beneficial than others. The most common forms of magnesium found in supplements include magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide. These also happen to be the forms that are poorly absorbed and should thus be avoided. The best forms of magnesium to take include magnesium citrate, glycinate, taurate, and aspartate, as these are most absorbable. They can easily be found online or ordered through a health professional.

Work with an integrative doctor

It’s important to note that while magnesium is safe for the majority of people, people with certain health conditions such as kidney disease or severe heart disease should only take magnesium under a doctor’s supervision.

Working with an integrative doctor is a great way to establish and optimize a supplement routine that includes magnesium. Playing a role in so many critical bodily functions, supplementing with the appropriate dose of magnesium can impact one’s health and wellness in many significant, positive ways.

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