What else should I be taking besides fish oil?
This is a question posed to me almost daily.
Without knowing your diet, it’s hard to say, but I’m willing to bet that you’re Magnesium deficient.
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.
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.
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.
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?
- Pumpkin seeds
- Wheat bran
- What germ
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.
- Sontia B. Role of magnesium in hypertension. Archives of Biochemistry & Biophysiology. 458(1):33-39. 2007.
- 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.
- Ho KM. Use of intravenous magnesium to treat acute onset atrial fibrillation: a meta-analysis.Heart. 93(11):1422-1440. 2007.
- 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.|
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.