RxPrimal Guide to Magnesium

January 18, 20162026Views31Comments
  Magnesium used to be in everything we ate and drank. It was collected in the water as it ran through streams, in plants as they pulled minerals from the soil, and in animals we hunted that fed on the magnesium-rich grasses. Since, our diet and our lands have lost much of that element. The soil has become deficient and in turn, our foods have become deficient and unable to pass on an adequate amount of magnesium to us.1 In response, a substantial number of adults now are unable to consume enough magnesium through their diet alone. It is estimated that US men only get 80% of their recommended daily amount while women average 70%. 1,3 In 1988 a US government study demonstrated that the Standard American Diet was a recipe for magnesium deficiency and, as our reliance on junk food has increased and our foods have been grown in increasingly depleted soil, we can conclude that it’s only gotten worse since that study.1
Why does it matter? Magnesium is a crucial element to the proper functioning of our bodies. It pairs with calcium to build bones, regulate inflammation, and support connections between brain cells.1 Without a sufficient amount of magnesium, all the calcium you are consuming cannot be used efficiently and can land in the intestines, soft tissues, and even in the arteries where it can coat and harden cholesterol deposits.1 Apart from being essential for proper use of calcium by the body, magnesium is essential to temperature regulation, energy transportation and production, protein synthesis, the transmission of nerve signals, and muscle relaxation. Without an abundance of magnesium, the body experiences a wide array of symptoms including, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, arthritis, bowel diseases, migraines, hypertension, heart disease, chronic inflammation, osteoporosis…as detailed in Dr. Carolyn Dean’s book—56 conditions in total.1
The most suggestive, given America’s ever increasing rate of it, is heart disease. There are statistically significant correlations shown between magnesium deficiency and increased risk of heart disease.1,2,4 For anyone interested in the myriad of ways magnesium works to keep out hearts and arteries healthy, I recommend Dr. Carolyn Dean’s book.
After beginning to supplement with magnesium, the most noticeable and immediate effects I noticed were in mood and reduced restlessness paired with better sleep at night. I was happier, less likely trigger a “fight or flight” response to a high stakes situation, and I was less likely to have one of those “what was I thinking?” arguments. The ones I would look back on and wish I had just shut my mouth and walked away. Overall I was simply more relaxed and content. It felt for the first few days like I had just walked out of the spa. I was could feel the ever-present tension release from my body, movement was fluid and effortless, and I stopped catching myself clenching my jaw. Even in the gym, I noticed that my energy levels had not decreased but that the movements felt easier and as though I needed to summon less force to perform them.
Both Adam and I began sleeping much more soundly. Both falling asleep more quickly and sleeping more deeply. I still wake up once during the night but quickly fall back asleep. I’ve struggled with a restless mind most of my life, some nights I was simply unable to quiet my thoughts and relax my body. Adam used to wake up too early and struggle to fall back asleep for the last hour or two or he would have the same difficulty I had, unable to quiet his thoughts. He’s experienced the same transformation of his sleep that I have. He’s sleeping later on weekends and hasn’t been tossing and turning on week nights.
I recommend starting out with the magnesium supplement only at night because, if you are deficient, you will feel very sleepy and peaceful when beginning the supplement. Light at night began to bother me less (though I still sleep with blackout curtains) and I was able to fall back asleep more easily. When the body is deficient in magnesium, it is not properly able to relax the muscles or to regulate melatonin production, both essentials to quality of sleep.1
Apart from the improvements in sleep, I’ve noticed a significant decrease in the chronic inflammation Adam has experienced. He’s always fluctuated and I’m still working to put my finger on exactly what triggers a response, but the magnesium has significantly decreased the inflammation present on his best and worse days. As I mentioned earlier, magnesium works with calcium to regulate inflammation in the body. In the Standard American Diet the body is replete with calcium but deficient in magnesium leading to, among other imbalances, the inability to properly regulate inflammation.1 This inflammation can effect many parts of the body but, most notably for the diseases of civilization, it impacts the gut, arteries, airways, and muscles. In the case of the gut, this adds to the symptoms of IBS.
I’ve noticed an ever-increasing relief from my PMS symptoms. I used to have to load up on ibuprofen—which I hate doing—or risk work from home the entire day. And compared to many women I know, I was lucky. Now I experience a slight amount of discomfort for a day and, other than that, can continue as normal. I am definitely not the only woman to have experienced this relief after starting the supplementation either!1
If you are interested in supplementing with magnesium, I suggest working with ionic magnesium that Dr Carolyn Dean recommends.1 It has the highest absorption rate (100% if taken correctly), which eliminates the diuretic effects often experienced with the pills and the powder forms. I began with 1/4 teaspoon taken right before bed (you will get very tired at the beginning) after a week or two, once I stopped feeling quite so tired, I upped the dose to 1/2 teaspoon before bed. After another week or two, again once my body was used to the dose, I added 1/2 a teaspoon in the morning. I am currently still on this phase, 1/2 teaspoon in the morning and another 1/2 teaspoon before bed. If you experience any diuretic effects while increasing dose, half it immediately. If, after taking the 2 1/2 teaspoon doses for a few months, you experience diuretic effects then it is safe to assume you have repleted your stored magnesium and can reduce to 1/2 teaspoon once per day.
1. Dean, Carolyn, and Carolyn Dean. The Magnesium Miracle: Discover the Essential Nutrient That Will Lower Therisk of Heart Disease, Prevent Stroke and Obesity, Treat Diabetes, and Improve Mood and Memory. Ballantine Books Trade Pbk. ed. New York: Ballantine, 2007. Print.
2. El-Hissi, J.H., Ahmed, A.I., Al-Masri, I.M., El-Sakka, M.A., Masad, A.A. and Najem, A.A. (2014) Dietary
Magnesium Intake Related to C-Reactive Protein in Newly Diagnosed Coronary Heart Disease Patients at Middle Zone, Gaza
Strip. A Hospital Based Study. Pharmacology & Pharmacy, 5, 601-611.
3. Ford, ES, Mokdad, AH. Dietary magnesium intake in a national sample of US adults. Journal of Nutrition. 2003 Sep; 133(9):2879-82.
4. Elon, RJ. Magnesium: the fifth but forgotten electrolyte. American Journal of Clinical Pathology. 1994 Nov;102(5):616-22.

Source: Rx Primal Blog

Becky Davis

Becky Davis

Hello, I'm Becky! I'm here to help you make the Paleo diet an easy part of your daily life. With my quick recipes, tips, and strategies readers and clients add healthy practices and stick with them! To hear a little more about my background, check out the "About Me" section or find me on social media.

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