Magnesium (Part 2): What & How Much You Need
Last week I started talking about Magnesium (Part 1) and told you it is my absolute FAVORITE mineral out there. Maybe it’s a dietitian thing, maybe just a sassy thing, but regardless magnesium is a game changer and should be a part of your every day diet. Check out last week’s post to learn about what magnesiums is, why you need it and what signs/symptoms you might have if you are deficient in the magnificent nutrient.
My love for magnesium started back in high school when I used to get terrible restless legs during my taper in swimming before a big meet. During taper you tend to do less yardage in the pool and less overall activity. My legs would be in so much pain that I couldn’t sleep, it was miserable. While there is some research out there to show this could have been due to a gluten sensitivity, it can also be helped with magnesium. My mom brought home some magnesium, told me to take it, and being desperate to sleep again, I took it. In one day, BAM the restless legs were gone. I was now intrigued. How could this be?
Well as you learned in part 1, magnesium is a vasodilator (meaning it makes the blood vessels wider and relaxed) and helps to relax your muscles, nerves and much more. Magnesium has helped me and many of my clients find relief with muscle soreness, restless legs, sleeplessness, constipation, anxiety, headaches and so much more. It seems like a miracle worker sometimes when really it is just an essential mineral we are not getting nearly enough of. It is so important to your health and I want you to know all the details!
In part 2, I want to tell you all about where you can find magnesium, how much you should be consuming daily, if you should be supplementing and then you’ll be left with a magnesium giveaway! Sit back, try to relax (you might need magnesium for that) and let’s dive in shall we?
What to Eat
Real Food. Well, yes that is always my answer but let’s delve a bit deeper into those foods that are rich in magnesium. One down side of these nutritious foods is that studies have shown that our soil is pretty weak in magnesium and does not look to be improving anytime soon. So, while these foods are generally rich in magnesium they may not be as high as previously thought, womp, womp!
Make sure to include many of these real foods into your diet and vary it up as tolerated. Foods that have a good sources of magnesium include:
- Green leafy vegetables: beet greens, spinach, swiss chard, turnip greens, etc.
- Vegetables: acorn squash, artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, green beans, okra, parsnips, etc.
- Sea vegetables: seaweed, kelp, etc.
- Fruit: Avocado, banana, papaya, raspberries
- Nuts & Seeds: almonds, cashews, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
- Legumes: black beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans
- Fish: halibut, mackerel, salmon, scallops, tuna, etc.
- Cocoa & Dark chocolate (>70%) (p.s. the more sugar you consume, the more it depletes you of magnesium, the richer the chocolate the better)
- Figs, dates
- Mineral water
- *Grains: barley, millet, oats, quinoa* This gets a few asterisks because while grains do have a good source of magnesium they are generally hard to absorb (and remember, you are what you absorb) and I don’t recommend grains for the majority of you. If you are eating them, you will need other sources of magnesium to meet your daily needs #sorrynotsorry
**Note: most of these foods will not meet your daily recommended intake (DRI) alone.
How Much To Eat
For most adults: 400-600 mg per day
**This should be from a combination of food & supplement.
Remember always speak with your dietitian and/or health care providers before starting a supplement. This is for general information only. If you are looking to supplement for a child, someone pregnant or lactating, recommended intake will vary.
Who should be supplementing
While I would love to say you can “just eat real food” unfortunately that is just not the case these days. Everyone should probably be supplementing with magnesium citrate powder in addition to ensuring they are consuming foods that are rich in magnesium (see above.) While many multivitamins have some magnesium in them they normally do not provide much and the little they do provide may be poorly absorbed so you may just be flushing away your money.
Now that I’ve told you everyone needs to supplement, do not just run to the nearest drug store and pick up any old magnesium supplement. Sure, it might work for some of you and it might work in the short term, but unfortunately many supplements are filled with excess ingredients that I would not wish on my worst enemies. Quality matters! You also have a few options for how you want to take your magnesium supplement. Vary it up or pick one that is most conducive to you being consistent. If you have poor gut health, you may want to stick with the topical options until you have reestablished good gut health.
The best ways to supplement with magnesium are…
- Oral (powder): Natural Calm Magnesium (buy here) (see giveaway below!)
Use this powder mixed in warm or cool water. Use it before bed to help you sleep. I recommend starting with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per day and increasing every 3-4 days to a goal of 2 rounded teaspoons per day. You want to build gradually because it can be a laxative so you want your body to adjust!
I have been using Natural Calm for the past few years and I absolutely love it. I take some in my morning glass of water to get the GI system moving and then again at night before bed to help me fall asleep. I prefer the unflavored version as the only ingredient in there is Ionic magnesium citrate, hello clean ingredient label! To find out more about Natural Calm, head over to Natural Vitality’s webpage and Facebook page to learn more!
- Oral (pill): Magnesium bound to glycinate, threonate, carbonate, oxide, etc. (ex: Pure Encapulations, buy here)
When looking for a pill supplement, always check out the ingredients to make sure there is nothing funky in there. For those that are gluten intolerant, look on the label for a gluten free label or contact the company directly to ensure they do not use any fillers that could be gluten containing. Absorption will depend on your gut health and on what magnesium is bound to, glycinate has been shown to bet he best absorbed, and threonate looks promising as well. If you are going to take magnesium bound to citrate or oxide start with a small dose as they may cause a laxative effect at first. If you intentionally want to use magnesium as a laxative, then a supplement with this intended effect, such as ColonMax, might be a better idea.
Spray or apply oil/lotion onto skin where you are sore or on large surfaces to ensure absorption. Follow instructions on the bottle. I have found that the oil will tingle on the days I work out more, I believe it is just anecdotal that if it tingles it means you need it more but either way it is a great tool to use after a stressful day or a hard workout. Both the oil and lotion work well, it is just more dependent on your preference. I have never been a lotion gal so oil works best for me!
- Topical (salts): Epsom Salts (buy at your local grocery store or online here)
This is one of the most relaxing ways to get your magnesium. You can fill up your bath tub and take a nice relaxing bath. Just pour 1-2 cups of epsom salts into your bath tub and soak for 15 to 20 minutes a few times per week. Even if you do not have a bath tub, find a bucket, fill it with warm water, add some epsom salts and soak your feet and legs, you’ll feel amazing, you deserve it!
You can mix and match the way you get your magnesium. Of course, focus first on eating nutrient dense food sources of magnesium and then supplement either orally or topically.
Alright, now it is time for what you have been waiting for,
Go be MAGnificent.
ps. check out the ebook from my friends over at Natural Vitality and enjoy the “calm fulness” of the holiday season!