Magnesium Supplements: What You Need to Know

Are you having energy dips mid afternoon? Having trouble falling asleep? Are you not pooping well everyday? Struggling to lose weight?

And then… do you find yourself looking for a pill to help with each of those issues? Are you searching for the newest diet to help you?

This is so common. We all go through these times where we don’t feel 100%, but it’s important to realize that embarking on the latest diet and taking medicine for each issue are only short-term fixes that doesn’t address the root cause.

Getting to the root cause can often be tricky and require support of a health professional or coach. But often times, the root cause behind these issues is linked to a nutrient deficiency in our diet. It can be that simple.

Last week I shared with you how just increasing your daily intake of dietary FIBER can produce big results. I’ve had clients double their vegetable intake, and as a result, their overall health does a 180 degrees. Their digestion improves, their weight drops, their skin/hair gets healthier, and more.

And apart from fiber, there is another nutrient that is often lacking in our diet, keeping us from feeling 100%.


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Getting more magnesium from our food is key. But often, it’s not enough (I explain below WHY) and we also benefit from taking a supplement. Since we’re faced with such a WIDE range of magnesium supplements nowadays, it’s important to know which is best for YOU.

Why do we need to take a magnesium supplement?

Magnesium (like calcium, potassium, chloride, and sodium) is an electrolyte, and it happens to be the 4th most abundant mineral in the body, needed for your brain, heart, eyes, nervous system, immune system, and muscles to function properly. Magnesium is utilized for your body to accomplish more than 300 essential biochemical reactions, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, blood pressure regulation, and more.

When your magnesium levels are optimal in our body (and you live a healthy lifestyle), your body thrives.

When you’re deficient in magnesium (it’s estimated that over 50% of us are deficient!), a whole host of health problems can arise in your body.

Common health issues related to magnesium deficiency include: anxiety and depression, ADHD, poor memory, chronic fatigue, migraines, high blood pressure, blood sugar issues and insulin resistance, thyroid imbalance, muscle cramps/spasms, weak bones, trouble sleeping and constipation.

The problem is that nowadays, 1) we’re getting less magnesium from our food due to soil depletion, 2) common gut issues don’t allow us to absorb it as well, and 3) we have many factors depleting our magnesium levels (key ones are stress and medications such as antibiotics and diuretics).

Therefore, getting sufficient magnesium can be tricky, and apart from eating a healthy, magnesium-rich diet, magnesium supplements can be a huge help.

Which Magnesium Supplements Should You Take? Brand? Quantity? Timing? Types?

First, always check with your doctor before taking any supplement, especially if your taking any medications. Assuming it’s a-ok, here are different types that you can consider, depending on your primary health concern:

First, choosing a good quality BRAND is important. Look for one that: has a label of certified non-GMO and does not contain fillers or added ingredients. I usually look for brands recommended by holistic doctors/ practitioners and brands that are transparent with their sourcing and manufacturing procedures.

As for QUANTITY, start gradually. In general, magnesium is safe to take but can potentially cause diarrhea and GI upset if you take too much for your particular body (depending on the type of magnesium; see below). Go off your doctor’s recommendations, or start at a lower dose and listen to your body as you slowly increase your amount until you feel best. For adults, I find that it usually ranges from 350 mg – 850 mg as the ideal amount.

As for TIMING, while there is no set time to take it, I usually recommend taking at night as it has a calming effect, and can generally help with sleep.

Regarding the different TYPES of magnesium, I’ll give you a summary:

Magnesium Citrate: This type is bound to citric acid, and I find it’s the best for constipation given its gentle laxative effect. It’s absorbed less than glycinate but more than oxide (roughly 16% absorption). I love Natural Calm powder supplement and personally take it almost every night mixed with warm water.

Magnesium Oxide: This is the most common form used in supplements. It is not as easily absorbed as other forms (approximate 5% absorption) which makes it less effective to correct deficiencies, but a good option to relieve constipation due to its laxative effects, and also to treat heartburn.

Magnesium Glycinate: One of the best choices for improving deficiency as its more bioavailable than Citrate/Oxide. Taking magnesium glycinate can help improve sleep and relieve stress overall.

Magnesium Chloride / Magnesium Oil: Magnesium oil is primarily magnesium chloride, which you apply topically, rubbing on to your skin with a mini self-massage that is great for soothing muscles. It’s also been show to help with skin conditions like eczema and acne. You can also spray on your belly to help with easing digestion and soothing an upset stomach.

Magnesium Sulfate/ Epsom Salts: Try soaking in a warm bath with 1 cup of Epsom salts which is great to increase your magnesium levels internally and release tense muscles. It also is extremely relaxing and promotes healthy sleep. Note: you can also take orally for a strong laxative effect, but I don’t recommend doing this unless its advised by your doctor/health practitioner.

Magnesium Chelate: this is the primary form of magnesium found in foods and generally the most bioavailable.

Lastly, be cautious of other types of magnesium, like magnesium aspartate, glutamate, stearate and lactate (used as a filler/food additive).

Additionally, make sure you’re getting plenty of magnesium in your diet! Some of the top magnesium-rich foods that I recommend include:

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  • Spinach (boiled), 1 cup: 157 mg

  • Swiss & rainbow chard, 1 cup: 154 mg

  • Black beans (cooked), 1 cup: 120 mg

  • Quinoa (cooked), 1 cup: 118 mg

  • Mung beans (cooked), 1 cup: 97 mg

  • Pumpkin seeds, ⅛ cup: 92 mg

  • Almonds, 1 ounce: 80 mg

  • Cashews, 1 ounce: 75 mg

  • Dark chocolate, 1 ounce: 70 mg (depending on size, one square can be 90+ mg)

  • Avocado, 1 small/medium Hass: 58 mg

  • Salmon, 1 fillet: 53 mg

  • Figs, ½ cup: 50 mg

  • Broccoli, 1 cup: 32 mg

  • Brussels Sprouts, 1 cup: 32 mg

*these are approximate mg per serving as it varies depending on the food, how fresh it is, if it’s raw/cooked/soaked, etc.

More on this topic? READ HERE: The Miracle Mineral You Need to Know About