Of all the minerals on the periodic table there is one that is so critical, so vital for health and wellness that it ought to be in a class of its own: Magnesium.
Having long taken a backseat to calcium in terms of its overall importance, the larger picture regarding magnesium is finally coming into focus. Indeed, when we are lacking in this essential mineral/electrolyte bad things can happen: bad things such as low ATP production (important for energy), cells that don’t perform their basic functions well (nutrients in and waste out), to low glutathione production (the master antioxidant). So important in fact, that the level of magnesium in our blood must be at minimum 1% at all times, otherwise we are dead (heart attack anyone?). We have written before about Triage theory: when the body operates with a micronutrient deficiency. When there is not enough good stuff to go around, the body begins to ration nutrients and use them only in those processes that ensure your short term survival. This is particularly this case with magnesium. In the case of a shortage, the body will stubbornly fight to keep levels constant and will rob other organs and tissues to do this. It is therefore very difficult to test for deficiencies via a simple blood test- the result will always be around 1%. But this will not reflect the true magnesium content of our cells, which for many people- indeed most people- is dismally, alarmingly low.
No test necessary
According to some experts no magnesium test is actually necessary. That’s because thanks to our less than healthy modern lifestyle, certain habits more or less guarantee that we are deficient in magnesium. Are you chronically stressed? Do you eat white bread or white sugar? Do you partake in regular caffeine or alcohol consumption? Do you exercise or sweat on a semi regular basis? All of these contribute to chronically low intercellular magnesium. The proof? A population that all to often displays the following chronic symptoms or conditions:
- Confusion/Brain fog
- Intense menstrual cramps/muscle cramps
- Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep
When we are stressed or depressed it is no secret at to why we all to often reach for chocolate– cacao is one of the most concentrated sources of magnesium. Still, commercial chocolate will not provide enough relief and most of us will struggle to catch up and give our bodies the dose we desperately need for optimal health. Indeed, attempting to get enough magnesium from our food may be a losing game. As has been widely reported, conventional farming practices have significantly depleted our soils of magnesium. And while some progressive farmers do add magnesium as a fertilizer, it is often overlooked in favour of the more common phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium.
So eat your avocados, your nuts, and your dark leafy greens. But don’t stop there. Supplement, supplement again and reap the benefits. Now the question is how to take it, how much, and in what form?According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, how much magnesium you require is very specific to the individual. The more active, the more stressed, the more your diet is lacking, the more magnesium you will need. The recommended daily allowance is set at 300mg to 400mg, but this is only enough to prevent an outright deficiency. In all likelihood we need double this amount to prevent or reverse symptoms or conditions associated with magnesium deficiency. If you are fortunate enough to live near an ocean, this is no doubt the best way. Ocean water will give you a concentrated boost of elemental magnesium (among other important minerals) that no spa or supplement can match. But if you are not so fortunate, there are other ways to get your daily dose. Taken orally, there are many forms of magnesium: oxide, sulfate, citrate, chloride etc, etc… It is here important to understand that not all forms are equal. Magnesium citrate is perhaps the most common, but is very poorly absorbed. Magnesium chloride seems to be a clear winner and is, according to Dr. Sircus, the most absorbable and most retainable. It is also the form closest to the magnesium naturally found in ocean water. There are other forms of magnesium that are well such as ionic magnesium which is very stable and absorbed at the cellular level.
That tingly feeling
Arguably the best method to take your magnesium is transdermally, or via the skin. Magnesium chloride is often seen in liquid form, in what is called magnesium oil. Taking magnesium this way is increasingly believed to be very effective and perhaps superior to oral methods. It is more easily absorbed and will be effective in replenishing the magnesium in your cells in 2-3 months vs 1 year with oral methods. And if that weren’t enough, magnesium on the skin acts as a humectant, which means that it helps the skin to retain moisture and look hydrated. So spray it on morning and night, take a bath with it (Epsom salts are excellent for this), use it as a toner. Magnesium oil will feel a little oily but sprayed on after a bath or shower it will quickly be absorbed. Aim for one ounce of liquid magnesium on the skin per day (40 sprays) this will ensure that you are getting enough. At first you will feel a bit of a tingle on the skin, proof that it is being absorbed. (That tingling sensation will eventually be less frequent as your body becomes less deficient). Wait a few minutes and pat yourself on your slightly humid back for a job well done.
How to make magnesium oil: dissolve a half a cup of magnesium chloride flakes into 1 cup of distilled, warm water. Let cool and place in a glass spray bottle.