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  • Dr. Donald Littlewood

Answered: Your Most Burning Questions About Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium is essential.

There I said it.

Magnesium has been shown to be required for 300+ reactions in the body. This includes processes like insulin regulation, energy production, hormone reactivity, and muscle contraction/relaxation. Just to name a few.

No wonder it is one of the most talked about supplements in the healthcare world right now.

If you follow me on Instagram (which I hope you do!) you’ll know that I posted about magnesium supplementation & migraines. So let’s start there first.

Magnesium & Migraines

Most of the research surrounding migraines is in prevention. There is nothing saying that taking magnesium is going to stop a migraine once you have one, but preventative work can help.

Magnesium deficiency has been seen over and over again in migraine sufferers, so it is clear it plays a role.

But what role?

One of the many causes of a migraine is decreased blood flow to the brain.

We think that magnesium promotes the opening of these blood vessels to allow for more blood (and therefore oxygen) into the brain.

We also know that magnesium has a huge role to play in effective nerve conduction. We also know that another cause of migraines is improper nerve conduction to the brain.

One particular study shows that 600mg/day of magnesium citrate supplementation can decrease the frequency & intensity of migraines by 33 and 47%, respectively.

And for those of you who get frequent migraines, that’s a BIG deal.

Magnesium supplementation, however, doesn’t come without its own side effects. Diarrhea is by far the most common one we see.

Regulation of muscle contraction

Magnesium plays a HUGE role in the muscle contraction/relaxation cycle. It ultimately affects performance, strength, and endurance capacity.

One massive role it plays is the regulation of calcium. Now we all know that calcium is necessary to build strong bones, but it is also integral in the formation of a muscle contraction.

Too much calcium, just like too much chocolate, does some damage. Magnesium naturally opposes this damage preventing enzymes from breaking down, and keeping cells alive.

Magnesium also transports different molecules required for muscle contraction and stabilizes the protein actin without which muscle contraction literally could not happen.

She’s a magician.

Magnesium deficiency & consequences

So now that I’ve talked about (and hopefully not bored you) on just a couple of the reasons why we need magnesium, I want to talk a bit about how to get magnesium in our diets as well as deficiency.

The recommended daily intake of magnesium is 300-400mg/day, but a ‘normal’ Western diet generally lacks sources.

What are those sources? I’m glad you asked!

  • Lean meat & fish

  • Nuts & legumes

  • Green, leafy vegetables

  • Other vegetables: celery, potatoes, avocado, cucumber

  • Cereal, dairy products & bananas.

So essentially everything we’ve been told to eat for a long time with the addition of potatoes.

Finally they’re good for something!

Now, imbalances of magnesium can also happen in a multitude of different ways:

  • High intensity exercise – this causes the an increase in magnesium usage because the muscles as working so hard, as well as the increase in ATP (the body’s energy molecule) needed to work so hard.

  • Sweat loss – magnesium is one of the many components of sweat.

  • Caffeine – increases adrenaline secretion and acts as a diruetic, both of which cause your body to use more magnesium.

  • Alcohol consumption – increases your urinary excretion of magnesium which (over a long period of time) can lead to magnesium depletion.

Lowered magnesium can lead to a whole host of problems: injury, illness, muscle weakness/cramping, low calcium levels, increased blood pressure, etc. Supplementation of magnesium is used to bring the body’s levels of magnesium back to a more normal level.

Final Thoughts

Magnesium is a great natural supplementation to be used to combat headaches, migraines, and muscle fatigue, but shouldn’t be used as an be all, end all. It is something I supplement myself, and I encourage others to as well. That being said, loose stool is something to be aware of when you are looking at increasing your magnesium intake.

Any questions? Leave a comment below, or send me an email, and I’d love to answer them.

Until next time,

Dr. Donald Littlewood