Chances are you’ve heard someone mention the special “M” word in conversations regarding health and wellness. Meditation (sure)…..magical mushrooms (maybe? no judgment)… magnesium, Yes! Magnesium! What is all this buzz and why does it matter what kind of magnesium?
Magnesium deficiencies in our bodies stem from a combination of our soil being low in this mineral (cue more crop rotation), the use of fertilizers heavy in nitrogen and phosphate blocking plants’ ability to absorb magnesium (cue, sad plants) and our OWN difficulty absorbing magnesium due to gut lining inflammation and/or microbial overgrowths (cue, scheduling an appointment with me 😉).
Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic processes in our body, so running low in magnesium can express itself in many ways. Common ones I see in practice include fatigue, muscle cramping/tension, PMS, headaches/migraines, constipation, insomnia, brain fog, palpitations, anxiety, depression and ADHD. Sound familiar? If that’s not enough, magnesium deficiency is implicated in tinnitus, TMJ, diabetes, osteoporosis, and hypertension.
No wonder this magical mineral is regularly discussed as an option to help what ails you.
Blood testing can give some assessment of magnesium status, with RBC Magnesium testing being more accurate than traditional serum testing. However, blood testing only reflects 5% of your body’s magnesium. The vast majority resides in your bones and muscles. Therefore, I’m typically finding more success basing magnesium dosing on patient response, rather than chasing a blood result.
Whether you’re staring at an aisle of food or an aisle of supplements, here’s what to look for:
Magnesium citrate and Magnesium oxide
For the below conditions, if there is any constipation I still start with magnesium citrate first since, again, there is some systemic absorption from magnesium citrate and the need to poop each day is REAL for healthy detox and decreasing inflammation.
Additional support for muscle pain, muscle tension, headaches:
Anxiety, ADHD, insomnia, headaches:
Fatigue, brain fog, cognitive concerns:
Fortunately, there are some supplement formulations which combine different magnesium salt forms together in convenient dosing. Since of course our bodies don’t typically pick ONE system needing support at a time. It likes to keep things interesting.
While considering whether magnesium should be a part of your supplement rotation, ask your health care provider if you have any reason to avoid additional magnesium supplementation, as certain medical conditions and medications may be contraindicated.
Blair Cuneo, PA-C, is a Physician Assistant and Functional Medicine provider, certified through the NCCPA and the Institute of Functional Medicine. Before joining the Raleigh-based functional medicine practice, Carolina Total Wellness, she provided Family Practice and Urgent Care services in the Triangle for a decade. She has a B.S. in Radiologic Science from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies from East Carolina University.
At Carolina Total Wellness she works with patients ages 3 years and older, especially enjoying when she is able to care for multiple members of a family. This partnership in the family dynamic emphasizes open communication, knowledge sharing and cultivation of individual and family strategies to create paths to wellness.
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