According to The World Health Organization statistics, about 75% of the US Adult population is deficient in magnesium. Not good. In 1900, the average intake of magnesium was 175 to 225 mg a day. Today, it is 175 to 225 mg a day. The RDA for magnesium is 320 mg for women and 420 mg for men.
Magnesium is a “cofactor” or a key ingredient needed in more than 325 enzymatic reactions, occurring in DNA, the bones, the heart, and the brain. It’s needed to make neurotransmitters, those brain and gut chemicals which help you stay focused, alert, calm, and happy.
Every cell in the body needs magnesium.
I frequently use magnesium with my patients who deal with fatigue, anxiety, ADHD, depression, fibromyalgia, migraines, insomnia and constipation (it’s considered “nature’s laxative”). It is one of the safest nutritional supplements to take. The body has a built-in safety mechanism. You get too much, you poop it out (or your stools get soft).
Magnesium is found in whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, and leafy greens, as well as cocoa and molasses.
Why are so many adults deficient in magnesium?
Due to intensive agricultural practices, the soil is robbed of magnesium (and there is no easy way to replace it). Studies show that magnesium content in common grains has markedly declined over time (full article: The Crop Journal)
During food processing, magnesium is stripped from foods. Refined grains, without magnesium rich germ and bran, have only 16% of the magnesium of whole grains.
Stress depletes magnesium. As stress increases, magnesium tanks. This is not good because magnesium is needed for us to manage stress.
Many medications, such as those for ADHD, deplete magnesium. Alcohol, caffeine, and sodas also deplete magnesium.
What are the health implications of a magnesium deficiency?
A magnesium deficiency has been shown to contribute to atherosclerosis, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer.
A lack of magnesium can also lead to poor memory, depression, anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, migraine headaches, PMS, painful periods, and even fibromyalgia.
How do we test for a magnesium deficiency?
This is tricky. Only 1% is in the blood, so plasma levels are not a good indicator of magnesium status. Magnesium is stored in the skeletal and other tissues. As mentioned earlier, magnesium is a safe mineral. If the body gets too much, stools will become loose, and you need to back off on the dose.
Why I love magnesium for anxiety and other mental health disorders:
Magnesium is needed to make neurotransmitters (such as GABA and serotonin) and for these neurotransmitters to communicate with each other. GABA and serotonin help to keep us calm and happy. It also helps to keep a healthy level of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter, which at high amounts, can lead to irritability and anxiety.
The good news!
You can restore magnesium levels and see positive changes in mood, cognition, stress, sleep, and energy.
My favorite forms of magnesium are magnesium glycinate and magnesium threonate. The glycinate form is great for gastrointestinal health and the threonate form is wonderful for anxiety and stress.
You may want to take your magnesium with your vitamin D3, as vitamin D3 can help the cellular update of magnesium. I will often dose magnesium with vitamin B6 for the same reason.