Signs of Magnesium Deficiency and Best Supplementation
Mineral deficiencies are much more common than we might think with magnesium being one of the most prevalent. From joint pain to difficulty sleeping, magnesium deficiency can cause wreak a lot of havoc on the body.
I’ve actually experienced many of the symptoms of mineral and most notably magnesium deficiency myself. Fortunately, this is an easy deficiency to fix and supplementation does not have to be expensive. Even better, I’m going to show you how to make delicious magnesium chewables at home.
So, keep reading to understand the signs of magnesium deficiency and the best supplementation to help you sleep better and get on track to optimal health.
Signs of Magnesium Deficiency
Headaches, muscle spasms, and insomnia can really cramp your style when it comes to productivity and performance. While most of us would be inclined to try pain relievers, sedatives, or visit a doctor’s office for a prescription, these are often signs of a magnesium deficiency. More importantly, while medications may mask the symptom, the underlying problem remains so symptoms return quickly.
Other signs of magnesium deficiency often include asthma, anxiety, osteoporosis, irregular heartbeat, and high blood pressure. Believe it or not, all of these issues can be further exacerbated or magnified with magnesium deficiency.
Since we are in the business of fixing the root cause here at FWDfuel, the primary focus should be on modifying your diet and regular food patterns to include more magnesium. Magnesium can be found in a number of foods such as nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, whole grains like quinoa and brown rice, most fruit, dark chocolate, dark leafy greens, and molasses.
However, for some of you, it can still be difficult to ingest enough magnesium to meet the needs of your body due to high training demands. When you’re unable to consume enough magnesium through food, additional supplementation may be necessary in order to prevent a decline in sleep, productivity, and performance. This is why signs of magnesium deficiency are all too common in highly active individuals.
Why is magnesium so important?
Believe it or not, magnesium is used by every cell in the body and is the second most prevalent mineral inside human cells. Magnesium plays a role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body each day! So, what does this really mean?
Magnesium provides fuel. Magnesium takes the nutrients that we eat every day and plugs it into our cells for useable energy. This is why many who are deficient in magnesium experience fatigue and sometimes even difficulty losing weight.
Magnesium assists with electrolyte balance. One of magnesium’s primary roles is to regulate mineral balance within each cell. Adequate magnesium levels help to ensure that the balance of sodium and potassium is in check. If magnesium is too low, potassium will leave our cells at a high rate through the urine, thus leading to a potassium deficiency. Magnesium is also responsible for regulating the amount of calcium in our body. This is critical for optimal bone and heart health.
Believe it or not, magnesium is our DNA’s guardian. Magnesium stabilizes our DNA structures and assists in repairing any DNA damage done by outside environmental sources. Our bodies sometimes take a pounding from the quality of the air we breathe and water we drink. You may also be living or working in a building with poor air quality. Perhaps you sunburn easily. These are all situations where magnesium can play a protective role.
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Why are So Many Athletes Deficient in Magnesium?
1) Magnesium is excreted in sweat and urine. Active individuals tend to sweat heavily during exercise, thus losing higher amounts of magnesium. We often forget that magnesium is a key electrolyte! Potassium and sodium steal the spotlight a little more than they should sometimes.
2) During intense physical exertion, magnesium gets transported. Magnesium travels from the blood plasma into the red blood cells as activity increases. This is your body’s compensation mechanism because there is a loss of energy when your body is experiencing lower levels of oxygen. The more intense the activity, the harder you breathe. The harder you breathe, the more magnesium finds a new home in red blood cells. The magnesium demand is highest for those training for more than 2 hours a day or those training in humid or sunny environments.
3) Many athletes are deficient because their basic needs are higher. Elite athletes especially have a higher turnover of energy. They are typically running faster and farther, lifting heavier, and the duration of their workouts usually far exceeds that of the average adult. Hence, an even greater need for magnesium supplementation.
4) On the whole, there are many lifestyle habits associated with being an athlete that tends to deplete magnesium. Drinking alcohol, carbonated beverages and caffeine being one. Eating sugar-laden, processed food products being number two. These habits can block the absorption of magnesium and are often consumed in place of magnesium-rich food sources.
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So Many Different Types of Magnesium. Which is Best for Me?
Magnesium Glycinate or Magnesium Bisglycinate
Magnesium glycinate or magnesium bisglycinate is usually what I recommend for my athletes. This form of magnesium can be taken orally and is known as a chelated amino acid supplement. In other words, this form of magnesium binds to an amino acid and therefore relies on a protein pathway for availability and absorption.
Magnesium glycinate is readily available on the market and typically very well tolerated by most individuals. It tends to be a little more expensive, but that is because after consumption, it’s availability in the body is higher than other forms of magnesium supplementation. In fact, the highly absorbable magnesium bisglycinate, is said to be the only form of magnesium that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. Thus making it especially useful for athletes who deal with anxiety, headaches, and mood-related disorders on a routine basis. The only magnesium supplement that is shown to rival this is magnesium chloride. Magnesium chloride is found naturally in seawater and is soluble in water, thus making it extremely easy for our bodies to absorb.
Magnesium citrate is another popular recommendation. As dietitians, we often recommend this form to our athletes and clients who have trouble moving their bowels. Think “c” for constipation. This form of magnesium is an osmotic laxative. An osmotic laxative pulls water into your intestines while relaxing your bowels. So romantic, I know. This flood of water helps to simultaneously soften and bulk up your stool, thus making it easier to pass.
Try your best to avoid magnesium oxide as it has the lowest rate of bioavailability. That means that your body is not able to use much of this form. Be careful as most over the counter supplements contain some form of magnesium oxide.
Transdermal magnesium (applied to the skin) can be a useful option for those individuals suffering from severe GI distress, making them unable to tolerate oral magnesium supplementation.
In terms of dosing, it is best to work with your physician or registered dietitian to determine the amount that would best suit your needs. In terms of brands, Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate is a great option.
Pro Tip: You can find both of these products on Amazon, however, our insider secret is to check out Wellevate. Wellevate offers professional-grade supplements at the best prices. FWDfuel readers will receive 20% off all orders and free shipping over $49. Unfortunately, we cannot provide direct links to products with Wellevate, but a quick search (refresh your browser after searching if you have an issue) is all you need to find great products at an amazing price.
But, I hate swallowing pills!
I hear you. Sometimes I even get sick of swallowing my vitamins each day. Worry not my friend, I have a solution! Many of my athletes refuse to take capsules so I made it my job to find a simple solution to the problem: Magnesium chewables! These little guys taste great and can last in the fridge up to 4 days.
KY’S MAGNESIUM CHEWABLES
In a small saucepan mix the following: 3/4 cup of your favorite cold-pressed juice (I like to use 100% cold-pressed orange juice or anything made from berries) *5 scoops of Thorne Magnesium Bisglycinate Powder (NSF Certified for Sport!) Gently stir until clumps are almost entirely broken apart and dissolved.
Add 2 scoops of Vital Proteins Collagen Gelatin to the mix. Do not stir right away. You will notice the juice mixture begins to ripple when you add the gelatin.
After it sits for a few minutes, set the pan on your stove over medium heat and begin to stir the mixture with a spatula until the liquid is thin and completely mixed well together. The mixture should not appear very lumpy and gelatinous, but more like a thick juice.
While warm, pour the mixture into a silicone mold of your choice. I use this one. Set filled silicone mold on top of a cookie sheet in the fridge for one hour.
Push gummies out of silicone mold and divide according to dosage. I would recommend 200mg of magnesium per serving to start. The key here is to make sure you read the label correctly on your magnesium container and divide accordingly when figuring out your dose. For example, the Thorne powder offers 1000mg of magnesium bisglycinate for 5 scoops. Therefore, when my mold creates 15 gummies, 3 would equal 200 mg.
You may take the chewables at any time of the day. However, since magnesium can have a relaxation effect for most people, I would suggest taking the entire 200mg dose 30-60 minutes before your pre-game nap or before bed.
Pro tip: Don’t ever experiment for the first time on the day of competition. ALWAYS try this in advance to ensure that you tolerate the supplementation.
*If you are not a collegiate or professional athlete and NSF certification does not pertain to you, feel free to use your favorite magnesium powder. Also, if you are more prone to constipation, you may want to consider magnesium citrate in powdered form.
So there you have it folks! The signs of magnesium deficiency are extremely common and some that I run into on a regular basis. Magnesium is a mineral that should never be neglected as it plays such a critical role in our body’s ability to function. If you think you may have signs of magnesium deficiency, contact your health care provider today.