As far back as I can remember I have had difficulty sleeping. I never had a hard time falling asleep. However, I was easily awakened and once awake, it took a while for me to get back to sleep. That all changed about 10 years ago when I began taking a cardiovascular support supplement. I took two doses daily but had to discontinue the morning dose because it made me so sleepy I could barely function. After a little research I found that it was the magnesium it contained that was the culprit. Since then I have done a lot of reading and have become a huge magnesium proponent in my practice. Here’s why.
Magnesium is everywhere. It is the eighth most abundant element, about 2.5 percent, in earth’s crust. It is highly water-soluble and is the third most common element dissolved in sea water. Sodium and chloride, or table salt, are the first two. Magnesium is the center of the chlorophyll molecule which gives plants their green color. Without it plants could not produce food or energy. Any dark green plant is, therefore, a rich source. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body and it is central to all of the energy-forming reactions in every cell. Over 350 enzymatic pathways in humans are dependent on magnesium.
The problem is none of us get enough magnesium. According to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999–2000, about 60% of US population consumed inadequate dietary magnesium. First of all magnesium is missing from most of our topsoil because of modern farming practices. So, unless you were eating a diet rich in organic food you’re not getting nearly enough. Add to that the fact that there are things that interfere with the absorption of magnesium. Regularly drinking caffeinated beverages, soda or alcohol can cause deficiency. Sodas contain phosphates that attach themselves to the magnesium inside your body, making it unavailable for absorption. The diuretic and mild laxative effects of caffeine in coffee result in the loss of minerals, including magnesium, via the urine and feces. Additionally, the acid present in coffee can erode the villi of the small intestine, reducing its ability to absorb nutrients. Other foods that can hinder magnesium absorption are non-fermentable or insoluble fiber, such as whole grain, bran and seeds and foods that are high in phytates and un-sprouted beans and soy. Of course, that does not mean that you should stay away from these foods all together. A high intake of calcium can cause your kidneys to excrete too much magnesium and can compete for the absorption of magnesium in your gut.
Here are a few good reasons why I push magnesium in my practice. First of all, it’s a great muscle relaxer, whether taken orally or in an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. Most people don’t know that magnesium is more easily absorbed through your skin than in your gut. Secondly it helps keep your arteries clean and free from plaque. Laboratory studies in both cell culture and in animals have shown that magnesium blocks the calcification that leads to the atherosclerotic process and cardiovascular disease. For every 50 milligrams of magnesium the test subjects consumed coronary artery calcification was reduced by 22%. The January 2014 Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging reported that the chances of having any coronary artery calcification were 58% lower in those with the highest magnesium intake. Higher magnesium intake also helps reduce the risk of dangerous heart arrhythmias. A January 2014 report from the Framingham Heart Study found that individuals with the lowest serum magnesium levels were about 50% more likely to develop atrial fibrillation when compared with those who had higher magnesium levels. It can help lower high blood pressure and studies have also shown that magnesium also reduces systemic inflammation that can lead to numerous other degenerative diseases.
So what do I recommend. I tell my patients to take 500 mg of magnesium citrate, a highly bioavailable form, just before going to bed. That’s what I do. Magnesium citrate can cause loose stools in some people. In those cases where GI distress is a problem I generally recommend magnesium glycinate. I suggest taking more than 500 mg a day if you are heavy coffee drinker or if you drink a lot of soda’s.
Here are The Recommended Daily Allowance(RDA) of magnesium. This is the minimum level needed to prevent deficiency symptoms but not necessarily the maximum level you should take. The RDA varies by age and gender.
Children 1 to 3 years: 80mg, Children 4 to 8 years: 130mg,
Children 9 to 13 years: 240mg
Boys 14 to 18: 410mg, Girls 14 to 18: 360mg
Men 19 to 30: 400mg, Men 31 plus: 420mg
Women 19 to 30: 310mg, Women 31 plus: 320mg
Pregnant Women 19 to 30: 350mg,
Pregnant Women 31 plus: 360mg
Very large doses of magnesium in excess of 5000 mg daily over a prolonged period of time can cause toxicity. Signs of toxicity are very low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, facial flushing, retention of urine, ileus, depression, and lethargy progressing to muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, and cardiac arrest.
There are some people who should not supplement with magnesium.
Contraindications to Magnesium Supplementation
1. Kidney failure. With kidney failure, there is an inability to clear magnesium from the kidneys.
2. Myasthenia gravis. The administration could accentuate muscle relaxation and collapse the respiratory muscles.
3. Excessively slow heart rate. Slow heart rates can be made even slower, as magnesium relaxes the heart. Slow heart rates often require an artificial pacemaker.
4. Bowel obstruction. The main route of elimination of oral magnesium is through the bowel.
5. Certain prescription drugs : some drugs adversely interact with magnesium.
Otherwise healthy people should be supplementing with magnesium daily.