Following potassium, magnesium is the second most abundant mineral in soft tissues. It is mostly contained in bone and inside the cells but found in lesser amounts in the blood. It is difficult to measure. The blood levels can be normal even if the tissue levels are too low. In nerve cells, magnesium reduces overactive nerves. Because of this, low magnesium can be a contributing factor to getting migraine headaches and muscle spasms. Many older folks with Restless Leg Syndrome are deficient in magnesium. Supplementing this common mineral is often effective in relieving the problem and is much less expensive than the Parkinson’s drugs that are commonly used for treatment.
Magnesium is a cofactor for the proper action of over 300 different enzymes. It is needed for energy production, proper nerve health, heart health and it also inhibits platelet aggregation. Supplementing to better levels can help relieve migraines, mild high blood pressure, constipation, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, restless legs, anxiety, panic attacks, kidney stones, fatigue and a host of other problems.
A healthy daily intake ranges between 200 and 500 milligrams. That amount is too large to fit into a daily multivitamin and needs supplementation. Magnesium used to be abundant in most vegetables, but due to the common use of ammonia based fertilizer, magnesium has been washed out of the soil in much of the U.S. Refined grains and processed foods also lose the positive effects of magnesium, as does boiling vegetables in water. For these reasons, most Americans are low in magnesium and would benefit from taking supplements.
Magnesium is both a sedative and a laxative so it is usually taken before bed. Too much magnesium can result in loose bowel movements — a sign that the dosage needs to be reduced. The inorganic forms, magnesium sulfate (milk of magnesia) and magnesium oxide tend to loosen the bowels more and are good choices to relieve constipation. Chelated magnesium, magnesium citrate and magnesium oxalate are less likely to cause loose bowel movements — they are well absorbed but slightly more expensive.