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By Britni Thomas, RD, LD
September 1, 2017
Do you bounce out of bed at night because you have a painful leg cramp? Or maybe you feel what people describe as the creepy crawlies in your leg (also known as restless leg syndrome). Do you wake up in the morning more tired than when you went to bed, due to your difficulty staying asleep throughout the night? If you answered yes to one or all of those questions—magnesium might be the solution for you.
Magnesium is involved in hundreds of different processes in the body and is the most powerful relaxation mineral. Studies estimate that at least 68% of Americans are deficient in magnesium.¹ Frankly; it may be even more than that. Less than 1% of magnesium is found in your blood, so it’s difficult to test for magnesium in the body. Due to this if you have seen magnesium listed on your lab sheet from your doctor, it’s not very accurate.
One of magnesium’s main functions in the body is proper muscle contraction. If you don’t have enough magnesium your muscles will contract involuntarily, causing spasms, cramps and restless leg syndrome. Imagine a night of rest without waking up with a cramp or spasm! Listen to this recent podcast about muscle pain and spasms with Dr. Silverman. Start with 300 mg of magnesium and increase until your spasms or cramps go away. You can safely go up to 1,000 mg per day. Take 100-200 mg in the morning and the rest before bed.
Magnesium plays a critical role in the function of your central nervous system. Without enough magnesium you may suffer from insomnia. It helps promote deeper sleep and more REM, which is our most restorative sleep cycle. You may notice you’re dreaming more when taking magnesium— that’s a good sign you’re getting more REM sleep. Not only will it help you stay asleep, but many people so report that magnesium helps them relax and fall asleep quicker. Start with 200 mg, but many people need 500-700 mg for insomnia. Increase up to 1,000 mg per day. Take it before bed for the benefit of better sleep.
Another function of magnesium is relaxing and dilating your blood vessels. If you are deficient in magnesium your blood vessels may constrict, creating high blood pressure. Magnesium also prevents spasms in your heart muscle and blood vessel walls. Take 200 mg of magnesium in the morning and 400 mg at night.
Leafy greens, nuts and grass-fed meat are all good food sources of magnesium. Clinically, we find that many people’s magnesium is so depleted that taking a magnesium supplement in addition to eating more magnesium rich food is the best approach. When choosing a supplement, we find that magnesium glycinate is the most absorbable form of magnesium. Choose Mixed Magnesium if you tend towards constipation. Along with magnesium glycinate, Mixed Magnesium contains magnesium citrate which helps pull fluid to your bowels to loosen stool.
The majority of my clients have at least one symptom of magnesium deficiency, and once they start supplementing and getting more magnesium in their diet they get a lot of relief. On more than one occasion I have heard people refer to magnesium as “the miracle supplement” because it helps so many different areas of the body.