Why Magnesium Is So Important

Why Magnesium Is So Important

Did you know that 1 in 3 Canadians have a magnesium deficiency?

Magnesium is important because it is involved in over 300 chemical reactions in the body. Here are a few of them:

  • Regulates muscle and nerve function
  • Regulates blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol production
  • Makes bone, protein and DNA
  • Keeps the immune system strong
  • Converts vitamin D to its active form
  • Regulates neurotransmitters that calm the nervous system and allow sleep
  • Reduces cortisol (the stress hormone)

Magnesium can also be used in the prevention and treatment of migraines (migraine sufferers usually have low magnesium levels), metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, asthma, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, constipation, preeclampsia, and cardiac arrhythmias. And it may give you energy.

Those who are more likely to have a magnesium deficiency are those with gastrointestinal diseases, type 2 diabetes, long term alcoholism, and the elderly.

A magnesium deficiency has no symptoms in the short term. However, a chronic deficiency may include the following symptoms:

  • loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • fatigue, weakness
  • high blood pressure, heart disease, abnormal heart rhythm
  • type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis
  • numbness, tingling, muscle cramps and spasms
  • seizures, personality changes
  • insomnia, anxiety, depression

How much do you need? This table from the National Institute of Health shows your total daily requirement based on age.


The best way to get your magnesium is through a good diet. The following foods are high in magnesium:

  • cooked legumes (black, kidney, soy) = 80-148mg/cup
  • nuts (almonds, peanuts, cashews, brazil) = 160-376mg/100g
  • seeds (pumpkin) = 168mg/cup
  • whole grains (brown rice, cooked oatmeal) = 61-84mg/cup
  • green leafy vegs (spinach, chard) = 24-29mg/cup
  • milk, yogurt = 24-42mg/cup
  • fish (salmon), poultry, beef, tofu = 22-34mg/100g
  • peanut butter (25mg/tbsp), 70% dark choc (64mg/28g)
  • bananas, raisins, dried figs, avocados, raspberries, blackberries = 20-68mg/100g

If you don’t get enough from your diet, or if you have symptoms of a deficiency, you may want to ask your doctor for a blood test or consider supplements. A friend had asked me about magnesium supplements and sleep. She had been taking 100mg but still wasn't sleeping well. I told her to try 200mg and she reports that she's never slept better!

Magnesium is available in many easily absorbed forms including, but not limited to, aspartate, citrate, lactate, chloride and bisglycinate. If you are being treated for osteoporosis, acid reflux, or peptic ulcers or taking antibiotics, diuretics or high levels of zinc, discuss magnesium supplements with your doctor first.

And finally, you can absorb magnesium topically. Recent studies have found that magnesium permeates the skin through hair follicles, and topical application significantly boosted magnesium levels in blood. One advantage of topical magnesium is that it is faster than oral supplements as it goes directly to your blood stream instead of through your digestive system.

This is especially beneficial for pain and inflammation as you get faster relief.

There is evidence for pain reduction using topicals for post-operative sore throat and pain, back pain, and labour pain. Although I’m fortunate to only experience pain when I injure myself, I have used it on my knees and back for relief.

Last year I was at a market in Fort Saskatchewan when someone asked if I had anything for pain, as he was experiencing a sore neck. He sampled my Magnesium Butter and walked around the market. Not long after, he came back to my table surprised that it worked and bought a jar.

I started making Magnesium Butter when a customer who was also a massage therapist, asked if I made it. She was leaving Alberta and didn’t want to leave her customers without a supplier.

So, if you’re planning to increase your magnesium intake, know that you can’t eat too much magnesium through diet. However, if you take too many supplements you may experience:

  • diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping
  • low mood, depression
  • muscle weakness
  • low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, cardiac arrest.

Are you getting enough?

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