II. My personal experience with magnesium deficiency
I never considered having magnesium deficiency, until I happened to read about it last year when I was researching some mild symptoms I was experiencing. When I wake up in the morning I like to stretch, but my lower leg muscles would start cramping up, and I had to abandon my stretch. But a body should be able to stretch in the morning, and the cramps annoyed me enough to get me to research. What I found was eye opening. I realized I had a whole barrage of little symptoms that I had been pretty much ignoring that could be traced back to hypomagnesemia.
–As a child I thought it was normal (and convenient) to only have to “go” every 3 days or so. Later in life, this constipation brought about uncomfortable bloating.
–Every now and then I would feel my heart skip beats, sometimes more and sometimes less.
–Sometimes I had calf cramps or toe cramps, but then I randomly started having weird cramps in other foot muscles, in my shins, and around my hips.
–I don’t do much sport, but when I did run I would feel weak and shaky on my legs. I also found it hard to balance on one leg.
–I’ve experienced eye twitches, and other muscle twitches here and there – and thought nothing of them.
–As long as I remember I’ve always had to battle feeling somewhat depressed about life (a “what’s the use of living?!” sort of attitude, in spite of having a peaceful life and doing my best to make life meaningful).
–I thought this low-level depression was the reason for not generally feeling very energetic.
–A few years ago I had my first bladder infection (doctor confirmed), and the uncomfortable sensations kept returning, no matter what I did. I thought the infection had become chronic! I finally went to the doctor again, and was told that there was no infection, but there was some tissue thinning that caused the discomfort (dysuria).
–Lately, I started having weird sound sensations – random clickings and cracklings in my ear (tinnitus, I guess).
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency principally occur in the central nervous system (CNS), skeletal muscles, digestive tract, and cardiovascular system. Yep, I had problems in every single one of these areas. Not huge problems (in fact, I had thought them normal) – but the symptoms were there nevertheless.
All of the above was enough for me to diagnose myself with magnesium deficiency. Since 80% of the population have it, surely this is not a stretch.
No wonder, then, that I like black chocolate so much! My body was going for the Mg in it! 🙂
(I didn’t bother going to the doctor to get myself tested. Why waste precious time, energy and money, when things are obvious?)
Instead, I decided then and there to get a Mg supplement to highten my Mg intake. I already eat the recommended veggies, nuts, legumes, black chocolate etc. (maybe that’s why my symptoms aren’t worse), but obviously, more was needed.
What magnesium supplements should I take? How much magnesium do I need every day?
When it comes to supplements, it’s important to realize that there is a big difference between synthetic supplements and natural ones. The body usually has difficulty making use of the inorganic vitamins and minerals that come out of labs, and most of them leave the body without doing it any good. Mg-oxide, for example, which is very common in low quality supplements since it’s cheap, has a low solubility and is therefore poorly bioavailable. Gut absorption is believed to be as low as 4% (equivalent to about 12 mg out of a 500 mg tablet).
This lack of bio-availability is why most commercially available supplements don’t really work. If your body actually absorbs 10% of the supplements that are cheapest and most widely available, you’re lucky. Natural supplements, however, are “bio-available”, which means they readily enter not only the blood circulation, but the cells, where they have an active effect. Bioavailable quality supplements may be more expensive, but if your body is going to use, say 80% of them as opposed to 10%, you are actually getting your money’s worth, instead of flushing it down the toilet.
Mg is a very chemically active metallic element, so it occurs naturally only in combination with other elements. Mg supplements usually come in the form of either organic or inorganic magnesium salts, with differing amounts of elemental Mg involved. Organic magnesium salts are usually water soluble, and the more water soluble they are, the more they can be absorbed by the body.
So how much Mg does a body need? Many sources say that adults need at least 400mg of Mg every day. You should also know that exercise, pregnancy, age, as well as numerous disease states, medications, stress and dietary factors can increase Mg requirements. Some people recommend taking up to 1000mg a day to make up for years of deficient intake.
It’s important to give your body time to absorb the Mg. In other words, never take 1000mg of Mg at once – you will probably get diarrhea and loose most of the Mg. Instead, spread your intake throughout your day.
The first supplement I tried was a formula that includes 7 forms of bioactive magnesium (Mg-citrate, Mg-malate, Mg-gluconate, Mg-ascorbate, Mg-taurate, Mg-glycinate, Mg-carbonate). I took between 3 to 5 tablets (300-500mg) spread throughout the day.
When the bottle was empty I got another formula that consisted of only Mg-gluconate, because this form of Mg is said to be especially good for muscle and nervous relaxation as well as collagen synthesis. All in all, I’ve been on Mg for about 3 months now.
The results of this treatment have so far confirmed the diagnosis.
–I can now stretch luxiously every morning without any cramping coming on. I do still get the odd toe cramp (especially on days when I forgot to take enough Mg) – but taking a tablet of Mg gets rid of it immediately.
–I race my kid to school (we tend to leave the house late) – no more weak, wobbly legs! Yay! Plus, I have no more problems balancing on one leg to tie my laces.
–I am much less constipated – once a day has become quite normal (still working on that).
–I haven’t felt my heart skip around in months!
–I don’t remember feeling any twitches anywhere in the last months.
–The dysuria only ever came back on days when I drank very little water. Relief!
–The cracklings in my ear do still happen now and then (they were far and inbetween to start with, so no change there, really).
–My low-level depression and energy level haven’t really changed too much yet. But I’m hopeful.
After all, who knows how much Mg was missing in my system for how many years? How much is now being used to fix this and rectify that? How much might be missing in action even now? It takes time to eradicate deficiencies and their unhappy consequences. I am considering raising my Mg intake even more to hopefully speed up the process a little.
I am also experimenting with Mg oil – which is not oil at all, but an “oily feeling” 30% solution of Mg chloride in water. I recommend the “Pure Zechstein” Mg oil brand. You can buy the oil ready made in a spritz bottle. You spray some straight onto sore or cramping muscles, and either leave it on or wash it off after 20 minutes or so. Don’t worry if there is a prickly feeling on your skin. If you find it unbearable, simply wash it off and dilute the oil you are using with more water (tip: use rose water). Eventually your skin will get used to the Mg and no longer prickle.
Many people say that Mg cannot pass through the skin, but I wonder how else Mg oil can provide relief to sore muscles – because it does.
I also enjoy brushing my teeth with Mg oil. No, it does not taste good – I felt the impulse to spit the stuff out immediately. But knowing that it is good for my teeth and gums makes it tolerable.
In fact, drinking just a couple spritzes of Mg oil in a glass of water actually tastes good.
Using Mg oil on my scalp has helped to combat dandruff.
You can also buy dry Mg chloride flakes to make your own Mg oil solution (this is definitely cheaper). You can also use those flakes in a foot bath (you can reuse the Mg water several times if you want to be extra frugal). You can even add a cupfull to a whole body bath.
I have been told that 1 cup of Epsom salts (which is Mg sulfate) is wonderfully relaxing in a bath. Such a bath has helped many people with sleep issues in combination with taking either magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate at bedtime. But I haven’t tried this – feel free to experiment, you can’t do anything wrong!
I did start taking vitamin D3 drops together with Mg, as Mg and vitamin D depend on each other for function and absorption. It’s possible to get vitamin D levels checked, but I just went ahead and started supplementing with vitamin D. After all, it has been found that here, too, most people no longer get enough – due to modern lifestyles of too much staying indoors.
Bonus: How to make your own magnesium oil
Obtain magnesium chloride flakes and distilled water.
(You could use regular water, but using distilled water will extend the shelf life of the mixture.)
1. Pour 1 cup of distilled/rose water into a sauce pan and bring it to a boil.
2. Put 1 cup of magnesium chloride flakes in a glass measuring cup/bowl.
3. Pour the boiling water over the flakes and stir until the flakes have completely dissolved.
4. Cool and store in a spray bottle or container at room temperature and away from the sun. Use up within 6 months.
*You could add ¼ cup of rose water, which not only smells wonderful but ameliorates the prickly feeling Mg oil can leave on the skin.
Use it to spray on aching muscles, your scalp, add it to your bubble bath, pedicure tubs, or use it in your dental routine.
Sources (besides my own experience!):
AgroCares. (n.d.). Magnesium: Why is it important for plant growth? Retrieved on June 17th, 2020 from https://www.agrocares.com/en/news/magnesium/
DiNicolantonio, J.J., O’Keefe, J.H., Wilson, W. (2018). Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. In Open Heart. 2018; 5(1): e000668. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668
Smith, A.A. (2020). The 2020 Definitive Guide To Magnesium & Magnesium Supplements. Retrieved on June 18th, 2020 from https://www.metabolics.com/blog/the-definitive-guide-to-magnesium-and-magnesium-supplements
Sperlazza, C. (2020). Magnesium deficiency signs, symptoms and how to fix it. Retrieved on June 18th, 2020 from https://www.bulletproof.com/supplements/vitamins-minerals/magnesium-deficiency-supplements-causes/
Wentz, I. (2019). Studies on Magnesium and Thyroid Health. Retrieved on July 1st,2020 from https://thyroidpharmacist.com/articles/new-studies-on-magnesium-and-thyroid-health/