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Yes, Magnesium! And here’s Why and How

Tightness, tension, spasm…  Throughout the body, these symptoms are often a sign of insufficient magnesium.   Magnesium functions as a bit of a “master” electrolyte in this case because it directly controls the pump that allows potassium to flow into the cell (where benefits can actually be experienced).  Especially because it is increasingly less prevalent in farm soil, dietary magnesium insufficiency is common.  Because it is a safe supplement to explore*, I recommend you prioritize this topic with patients who may get rapid relief from magnesium support. Remember:  rapid relief is key to creating inspired, committed, and ultimately wildly-satisfied clients and patients, especially those who can’t stop telling everyone they meet about how they too can benefit from working with you!

All of your patients potentially have insufficient levels of magnesium.  Be a detective; look for those symptoms!  Look for the interconnectedness you can see.  Functional medicine pioneer Dr. Mark Hyman has published an excellent blog article about the symptoms of magnesium deficiency which you may read here .

While anyone you work with should be considered for this opportunity, there are three (big!) groups of patients who are more likely to struggle with insufficient magnesium.  That is, those who:

  • Have Type 2 Diabetes (or are on the spectrum of developing it e.g. prediabetes, insulin resistance, abdominal obesity).  These clients are statistically more likely to have magnesium deficiency – and not suprisingly there is an epigenetic component of this deficiency as well (this other article is a great summary of similar research).  The hormone insulin mediates healthy functioning of both sugar and magnesium uptake into cells, so insulin resistance can impair both of these.  Fasting insulin – or even better C peptide – is perhaps the best lab marker (of those that are readily available) for assessing insulin resistance in its early stages – that is before there is any increase in fasting glucose.  In fact, in the worsening progression of insulin resistance, it is more likely that a patient will first experience a period of inappropriately low blood sugar given their diet (before pancreatic dysfunction progresses to drive it upward).
  • Regularly take Proton Pump Inhibitor medications (e.g. Protonix, Prilosec, Nexium), usually prescribed for acid reflux.  The FDA’s warning about this connection might be inspiring to your clients to make lifestyle change to get away from needing these drugs.  By purposefully creating hypochlorhydria (reducing stomach acid), this drug impairs our ability to separate minerals which are typically food-bound to amino acids in proteins.  Other posts on our site here give pearls about addressing the root causes of chronic acid reflux.
  • Use diuretic medications, especially for hypertension.  These drugs promote urination, typically to increase water and sodium elimination and reduce the edema caused by other hypertension drugs (e.g. beta blockers).  However, these drugs also cause loss of other electrolytes via the increased urination.  Ironically enough, this includes potassium and magnesium, two minerals which are vital to maintaining healthy blood pressure in the first place.  Alas, I have had several clients over the years who discovered that ongoing use of a diuretic medication was actually a key reason Why their blood pressure wasn’t improving in response to their targeted lifestyle changes.   Arghh!

If your clients wish to have their physician assess their actual magnesium level, encourage them to request “RBC magnesium” and specifically to be sure that the (standard default) “serum magnesium” is not measured instead, wherever possible.  RBC mineral levels are not a perfect measure, but they do offer a more accurate reflection both of ongoing intake in the typical diet (2-3 months in RBCs vs. feedback on only a day or two in the serum level) and also one’s cellular absorption of the nutrient.  Remember it’s not enough to get nutrients into the bloodstream; we need to be able to absorb them well into our cells in order to make a difference in our functioning.

There are many different forms of magnesium available on the market.  I recommend my clients avoid 100% the carbonate form, as it is poorly absorbed at the typical pH of human digestive processes (but it’s a cheap form and thus commonly available!).    Instead…

  • Specifically for constipation, I recommend magnesium citrate.  Start with 300-400mg taken with dinner to help with early AM bowel movement the next day.  It may take a few days to build up full efficacy.  And clients may need appreciably more.   Both capsule and loose powder options are available.
  • For muscular spasm, tension, tightness, including headache, I recommend magnesium glycinate or malate.  These chelate forms of magnesium typically do not affect the GI tract much and won’t overly-stimulate an already-healthy bowel movement habit.
  • For attention deficit, anxiety, panic, and those who are easily startled, I recommend magnesium threonate as it penetrates the blood-brain barrier particularly well and provides threonine, an amino acid particularly calming to the nervous system (e.g. Jarrow’s “MagMind”).  I would start with ~150mg magnesium in this form and build up as needed (start dosage to target key needs e.g. first morning for daytime anxiety and evening for RLS, trouble going to sleep, or ruminating thoughts that prevent deep sleep).
  • For cardiovascular disease and related concerns (e.g. atrial fibrillation), I recommend magnesium taurate.  The amino acid chelate in this case (taurine) is a calming neurotransmitter and a critical building block for optimal bile production in the liver, and it has been shown to be effective in countering a variety of arrhythmias (especially when combined with arginine and/or citrulline).

*Magnesium supplementation should be done cautiously in those with any degree of kidney dysfunction or disease and always in active partnership with the attending physician for the kidney ailments.  Supplementation may still be warranted but in very small doses at once that are actively monitored to ensure filtration function is not harmed.

Get savvy about working with magnesium!  It can be a simple and powerful tool to help your clients and patients to find the Rapid Relief that will help them to stay engaged and enthusiastic about their journey with you.

Have you taken advantage of our free mini clinical course on Conquering Constipation?  Yes, magnesium is a common remedy, but in this free pearl-packed course, I review and teach you about a full FIFTEEN common causes.

Thank you for the opportunity to support you!





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64 Questions for “Yes, Magnesium! And here’s Why and How”

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  1. 30
    Lisa Jones Clark says:

    What if magnesium carbonate is in a product which is a combination with magnesium citrate and they are chelated? Would it then be able to be utilized?

  2. 29
    Erin Roskos says:

    What is the best overall magnesium form? I have a patient whom I think would really benefit from magnesium supplementation. He suffers from HTN, type 2 DM, GERD, anxiety and panic attacks, and also gets frequent headaches. He also will have premature ventricular contractions occasionally; he will have a lot in one day and then go days or weeks without them. According to the above article, his conditions fall into all of the categories for the different forms of magnesium. What would be the best overall magnesium to recommend that would help him with his various conditions?

    • 29.1
      SAFM Team says:

      Magnesium glycinate or another chelate form would be a good overall form of magnesium in a supplement to potentially address general magnesium need. Keep in mind that supplements are only part of the healing process and one needs to consider the whole network of body systems interconnectedness. If you see such overt magnesium need, you will always want to ask, why is this happening – is it the issue of lack of magnesium in the diet; issues with absorption, or another factor that contributes to magnesium/mineral loss.

  3. 28
    Magdalena Hjalmarsson says:

    I am considering using Thorne’s Magnesium Biglycinate Powder since there are fewer additives and my client does experience muscle tightness, achy joints, and headaches.
    I have done some research to understand how glycine influences glutamate receptors and I would greatly appreciate a second opinion.
    From my review, the research is supporting the idea that glycine has a possible anticonvulsant and neuroinhibitory effects, however, the fact that it is a glutamate co-agonist at NMDA receptors seems slightly concerning. Can you help me understand this clearly?

    Thank you.

    • 28.1
      SAFM Team says:

      This is indeed a fascinating subject and the binding of glycine and glutamate to the NMDR receptors has been relatively recently (2018) elucidated:
      Yes, glycine (or serine) is necessary to activate the NMDA receptors and for the glutamate to exert its excitatory function, thus excess glycine could potentially uncover a pre-existing glutamate sensitivity, but it is not likely to be stimulatory if the glutamate balance is not an issue in the body.

  4. 27
    Karen E Digby says:

    Could Magnesium Citrate be used to treat mood dysfunction or only Magnesium Thoenate?

    • 27.1
      SAFM Team says:

      In principle, it might helpful somewhat. However, magnesium citrate is primarily quite stimulatory to the bowels, so I wouldn’t use mag citrate with someone who didn’t also have some degree of constipation. For addressing mood imbalance, I would more highly recommend magnesium glycinate for general use. Magnesium taurate and Magnesium threonate are more esoteric alternatives as well.

  5. 26
    Magdalena Hjalmarsson says:

    What form of magnesium would be most effective for a child with epilepsy (Druvet’s Syndrome)?

    I want to ensure the amino acid the MG is chelated to will not effect glutamate / GABA balance. Magnesium glycinate seems like a good option to not distress the GI tract however Magnesium threonate may be more effective at crossing the blood brain barrier as well as calming to the nervous system. Another factor is when dealing with a child liquid or powder magnesium would be most appropriate.

    Thank you!

    • 26.1
      SAFM Team says:

      You will need to do some research to ensure there is no contraindication of supplementing a threonate chelate with her diagnosis – and also whatever medications she might be taking. In principle, however, I agree that the magnesium threonate formula would be a good fit for these types of dis-ease dynamics. There are indeed powdered options e.g. Life Extension’s Neuro-Mag is a flavored powder that dissolves well in water.

  6. 25

    Looking for insight on elevated magnesium level on lab work. We also talk about suboptimal magnesium, can you tell me when we might see elevated levels?

    • 25.1
      SAFM Team says:

      In our experience, high levels of plasma magnesium are quite rare and typically only seen in people with decreased renal function, after administration of a magnesium load large enough to exceed the kidneys’ ability to excrete it, or a combination of the two. This is a dated but still very relevant publication on this topic:

  7. 24
    Georgia Griscom says:

    Can magnesium threonate and magnesium taurate be taken together?
    Thank you!

    • 24.1
      SAFM Team says:

      In principle, there shouldn’t be an issue with taking these two together. However, it is certainly worth introducing these supplements sequentially over a two/three-week period to see how the body overall responds to these particular amino acid conjugate forms of magnesium supplement. We have seen these formulas work quite well systemically in some cases. If you wish to try something else, you might consider one of the many “tri-magnesium” options available e.g. Rhythm’s “Triple Calm Magnesium” which includes taurate, malate, and glycinate forms. We are not aware of a tri-form that includes threonate specifically; thus suggesting another option that would specifically target anxiety (that is, taurate) as well as the other concerns.

  8. 23
    Lori Taylor says:

    Will magnesium taurate help with SVT? If so, what dose of magnesium taurate is recommended?
    Thank you!

  9. 22

    What are your thoughts on “oxy powder” – ozonated magnesium?

    • 22.1
      SAFM Team says:

      The supplements industry, like any other industry, keeps coming up with the ‘new and better’ solutions. But the question is, do we really need all these new forms when we have so many very well working ones? Magnesium oxide is highly stimulatory to the bowels, way more than the citrate form, and it may be way too strong for some people. Also, we wouldn’t recommend this form to address the systemic needs of magnesium repletion. Instead, choose from various magnesium forms to address specific needs for more targeted support.

  10. 21
    Karen Snyder says:

    Would magnesium taurate help someone with Prinzmetal Angina? If so, what dosage? Would arginine and/or citrulline also help? If so, what dosage for that as well? I know magnesium will help with hypertension as well (along with potassium).

    Also for those with heart arrhythmias, what dosage for Mg taurate, arginine and/or citrulline? Same for atrial fibrillation?


    • 21.1
      SAFM Team says:

      Prinzmetal Angina, unlike typical angina that’s caused by vascular obstruction, is caused by spasms of the smooth muscles in the artery wall, even when someone is asleep. For this reason, addressing the magnesium balance and the nitric oxide production could be helpful. As for dosages, starting low and slow and allowing the body time to adjust to the new level of relaxation substances is always a good idea, and in general, people need to consult their physician for their specific needs and dosages.
      This article may be helpful to you as well:

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