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Magnesium: As Important as Omega-3?

by Vin Kutty on June 18, 2011

What else should I be taking besides fish oil?

This is a question posed to me almost daily.

Magnesium

Without knowing your diet, it’s hard to say, but I’m willing to bet that you’re Magnesium deficient.

Vitamin D3

And by the end of winter, if you’re not taking Vitamin D pills, I’d also bet that your Vitamin D tank is runnin’ low. But we’ll deal with Vitamin D another day.

Magnesium: Why Should You Take It?

Let’s talk about why you should take a Magnesium supplement.

How am I so sure that you’re magnesium deficient?
Well, about 70% of Americans don’t get enough Magnesium. Other estimates put it closer to 80%.

This deficiency is rampant. And dangerous.

You need about 400 milligrams (mg) of it everyday because your body uses it for 300+ different enzymatic reactions in your body. Some of these reactions produce energy and others control cholesterol.

And due to heavy food processing, most of what we eat has been stripped of magnesium. So our diet is woefully low in magnesium.

A hundred years ago we got about 500 mg every day just from our diet. Now, we get just 150 mg.

It’s not just food processing. Other stuff reduces magnesium too:

  • Soften your drinking water? Well, that gets rid of a bunch of magnesium.
  • Drink coffee? That flushes some magnesium out of your body.
  • Alcohol? Yup, blocks magnesium.
  • Bunch of cardiac and insulin drugs can cause magnesium deficiency.

I could go on and on. You get the picture.

Three important benefits of Magnesium:

1. Blood Pressure, Angina & Abnormal Heart Rhythms.

Magnesium is a natural calcium channel blocker.

What does that mean? Calcium channel blockers are a class of drugs used to treat high blood pressure and abnormal heart beats.

This DOES NOT mean that you should stop taking your hypertension pills and switch to magnesium supplements! Talk to your doctor about this first. What this means is that you and your doctor need to rule out magnesium deficiency as the reason why you needed calcium channel blockers in the first place.

Calcium channel blocking is important for your heart. Magnesium prevents too much calcium from entering the cells of your heart. Too much calcium in heart cells can cause heart attacks and making sure you have enough magnesium in your diet is a safe and natural way of keeping your heart running efficiently.

2. Cholesterol management.

Magnesium helps balance cholesterol levels in your body.

How?

Magnesium is necessary for an enzyme that reduce LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol. It also affects enzymes that increase HDL ‘good’ cholesterol. Magnesium also helps enzymes that lower triglycerides.

How much does magnesium change blood lipids?

  • Total Cholesterol may be reduced by 6 to 23 percent.
  • LDL ‘bad’ Cholesterol may be lowered by 10 to 18 percent.
  • Triglycerides can be reduced by 10 to 42 percent.
  • HDL ‘good’ Cholesterol can increase by 4 to 11 percent.

Not too shabby for a lowly mineral.

3. Stress and Anxiety.

Magnesium helps your nerve and muscle cells relax.

Got an eye twitch or muscle cramp?

Could be from low levels of magnesium. Of course, there are other reasons for these symptoms, but not having enough magnesium could be a big one.
Magnesium and stress & anxiety
Calcium makes muscles tight. And magnesium relaxes them. So it’s not surprising that people taking magnesium supplement experience better sleep.

Books have been written about why you need more magnesium. So this is just a tiny taste of what it can do for you.

How to get more Magnesium?

Eat more:

  1. Pumpkin seeds
  2. Wheat bran
  3. What germ
  4. Almonds

Seaweed (kelp) has more than any of the above, if you can stand the taste. I can’t.

Before I go any further, I must warn you that if you take a lot more than 400 mg Magnesium at a time, it will have a laxative effect. So don’t get excited after reading this and take a bunch at once. You’ll be home-bound for at least half a day. Remember Milk of Magnesia? It’s just a high dose of Magnesium.

This is why I take a 200 mg pill twice a day.

Magnesium supplements are easily available at drug and grocery stores. But just like fish oil, the readily available stuff is cheap and you get what you pay for.

Most cheap drug store grade magnesium is made of Magnesium Oxide, which is not very well absorbed. It’s a little better than powdered dirt. You may, honestly, be better off drinking tap water to get your magnesium.

If you want better absorbed magnesium, get magnesium citrate or magnesium malate. There are some time-release formulas that can help remove the risk of the laxative effect.

Where to buy?

Not the grocery or drug store. You’re better off doing your homework online and buying from one of the reputable online retailer.

Magnesium is not patented. And it’s not expensive. Given how deficient most of us are and how much it helps with several health conditions, it makes no sense not to supplement with it.

So is it as important as Omega-3? Yes. I occasionally skip my Vitamin D pill. But I rarely skip my Omega-3 or Magnesium.

Next up: Vitamin D3. And later, Vitamin K.

Be sure to check out the Nutritional Magnesium Association’s web page. Tons of great info there. And look into Dr. Carolyn Dean’s book, Magnesium Miracle.

Sources:

  1. Sontia B. Role of magnesium in hypertension. Archives of Biochemistry & Biophysiology. 458(1):33-39. 2007.
  2. Nielsen FH. Dietary magnesium deficiency induces heart rhythm changes, impairs glucose tolerance, and decreases serum cholesterol in post menopausal women. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 26(2):121-132. 2007.
  3. Ho KM. Use of intravenous magnesium to treat acute onset atrial fibrillation: a meta-analysis.Heart. 93(11):1422-1440. 2007.
  4. Guerrero-Romero F. The effect of lowering blood pressure by magnesium supplementation in diabetic hypertensive adults with low serum magnesium levels:a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of Human Hypertension. 23(4):245-251. 2009.


DISCLAIMER: People who have or are susceptible to kidney disease should not take Magnesium supplements without their doctor’s supervision. This website does not sell Magnesium supplements. Neither do any of its affiliates. This information is for your education only. The contents of this blog do not constitute medical advice. This is merely an open discussion of the science behind health and nutrition. Please consult your physician for medical advice.

Author Vin Kutty is an expert on fish oil About the Author: Vin Kutty is OmegaVia’s Scientific Advisor and Chief Blogger. He is a nutritionist, author, and Omega-3 expert with over 20 years of experience. Email him.

pharmaceutical grade fish oil

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacey December 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Thanks so much for your hugely informative articles! Have you written about Vitamin K yet? I’m really interested to read what you have to say about it.

Reply

Vin Kutty December 19, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Hi Stacy – thank you. We have not written about Vitamin K yet. But have a partially completed blog that will probably get published sometime in 2013. I think Vit K is critical, especially the K2 forms that are often missing from modern diets. I take Life Extension’s Super K formula with MK-4 and MK-7.
- Vin Kutty

Reply

Concerned Mom April 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Hello. I know I’m late to the game and this article was written a few years back now. However, I am the mom of a wonderfully, bright and fantastic nine year old boy who has been diagnosed early onset rapid cycling bipolar disorder, ADHD and tick disorder. Oh yes, triple whammy. He has taken medication since he was 5. After recently going thorough an awful attempt at a med change to better stabilize his disorder(s) sending him into a cycling mess for about two weeks, I have done more and more research on alternative therapies using supplements/vitamins. I have always trusted his dr’s as they know the disorder and treatment better than I do. I’m not a doctor and didn’t got to school for it. Without sounding too hardened, I’m quickly coming to the realization how much poison I am feeding in to my son with the “hopes” of helping him be able to cope day to day.
To get to my question: the two I consistantly see over and over are magnesium and omega-3 to assist in the treatment of bipolar disorder and ADHD. Have you seen/heard positive results to this as well? I do plan on discussing with his med mgmt dr but feel I need to be armed with some sort of facts as they aren’t always the most receptive group of folks.
Thanks so much.

Reply

Vin Kutty April 3, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Hi Concerned Mom – since you are dealing with a ‘triple whammy,’ I would get as educated about it as possible – you probably are. Yes, Omega-3 and magnesium can help. And I have heard from customers about it – but that’s anecdotal evidence. There is limited amount of scientific evidence on Omega-3 and ADHD. To me, this is not as much a call for supplementation as is it for a drastic diet-correction. A back to basics, ancestral diet exclusively of whole foods (no sugar, no grains, no processed foods, no soda, no cereals, no UPC code anywhere in sight type diet) will help as much as supplementation. Because of soil depletion, even if you son eats a lot of traditionally magnesium-rich foods, he may not be getting enough. So there is a good argument for magnesium supplementation. Omega-3, well, you should start with 10 oz of wild salmon per week.

Even though it is unrelated, you may want to read the more recent blogs on depression and anxiety – there are lots of applicable takeaways there for you as well. Usually, I lose parents when I say the words ‘drastic diet correction.’ And that’s my cue to exit. Hope I didn’t do that with you.

Reply

Betty July 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm

I plan on taking this product for bone health.
Terry Naturally Osteo Strong: Which contains following.
Vit d – 4000 iu Manganese – 2 mg
Vit k1 – 300 mcg Copper – 2 mg
Calcium citrate – 450 mg Boron – 12.5 mg
Magnesium – 200 mg Vit k2 – 45 mcg
Zinc – 20 mg Silicon – 50 mg

What do you think about this supplement, formula and dosage?
Is the dosage too high for what you need in a bone health product?
Should I also take additional calcium (age 62) and vit k2?

Reply

Vin Kutty July 18, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Hi Betty – addresses most bone needs. I’d still take an additional magnesium and K2 supplement to make up for this formula’s deficiencies. I’d prefer a K2 supplement with both MK-4 and MK-7 and at slightly higher doses. I prefer 200 mcg of MK-7 instead of 45 mcg. I suspect they kept it low for cost reasons. But something is better than nothing. If you’re eating a healthy diet, most people don’t need additional calcium. If I formulated this product, I’d remove or reduce the calcium in half. Again, I suspect they put the calcium in the formula because it would not make sense to most people to buy a bone formula without calcium – that’s just consumer perception, not science. Note that you will have to take 4 pills to get the above levels…which means you’re only getting about 10 mcg of K2 per pill. Not enough if you decide you only want to take 1 pill per day.

Reply

Betty July 20, 2013 at 1:44 am

Thanks so much for the information about the Naturally Terry’s bone health product (Osteo Strong). I agree on more Vit. k2 . What is your recommendation on dosage for magnesium and daily calcium intake (food or supplement)? I would like to know if zinc, copper, manganese, boron and silicon dosage in this product is on the high side (4 pills). I would like to take 2 pills daily with extra K2 and magnesium. Or should I take the 4 pills with extra K2 and magnesium?

Reply

Vin Kutty July 20, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Hi Betty – the micronutrients seem OK. I suggest you get 400 mg of magnesium from any source other than magnesium oxide. I usually don’t tell people to supplement with calcium – eating vegetables, meats, eggs and dairy (if you tolerate it) is usually sufficient. If you do want to supplement, calcium citrate is probably OK. Your idea of taking 2 pills per day with extra Mag and K2 is a good idea.

Reply

Betty July 20, 2013 at 2:36 am

I forgot to ask : Is there any other supplements you would like to add for good bone health or suggest another product.

Reply

Vin Kutty July 20, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Your bones are pretty well covered. Next step: start reading up on gut health.

Reply

Ken August 14, 2013 at 2:29 am

Hi Vin,

Does consuming magnesium l-threonate helps with supplementing ourselves with magnesium intake the same way as magnesium citrate and magnesium malate do? I’ve read a few articles about magnesium l-threonate and became very interested in its memory-improving function.

Does the different brands provide different quality? They have the same amount per serving.

Reply

Vin Kutty August 14, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Hi Ken – yes, Magnesium threonate provides some magnesium. It has been shown to provide benefits to the brain and some memory-related benefits. The problem is that the threonate salt is weak in magnesium. You will need to take a lot of pills to get your required dose. I suggest combing threonate with citrate, malate or glycinate forms to make up the shortfall.

Reply

Ken August 15, 2013 at 1:55 am

Thanks for the reply. Wouldn’t have know that threonate salt is weak in magnesium without you! Would you be able to advise us if the different brands would have different qualities if they have the same amount per serving?

Reply

Vin Kutty August 15, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Hi Ken – impossible to tell – there are several brands that sell Mag threonate and they may have different amounts of active ingredient in each pill. Magnesium amount will be listed on the supplements facts panel on the side.

Reply

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