Welcome to episode 409 of The Whole View. On this week’s episode, Stacy and Sarah discuss magnesium and the role that this vital nutrient plays in the human body. How prominent is magnesium deficiency? How do you reach sufficiency? What are the different forms of magnesium? And so much more! Tune in below!
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The Whole View, Episode 409: Let’s Talk About Magnesium
Welcome back, Whole View listeners. (0:27)
Stacy is so excited for 410 because it is one of those shows that she asked for.
She has taken other magnesium before years ago and did not feel a difference.
So she asked Sarah why BiOptimizers magnesium makes her feel so good.
And Sarah decided that this would make for a great podcast episode, as opposed to leaving the information in a text exchange.
Stacy is super excited to dive into the science of magnesium.
But first, a quick shout out to this week’s sponsor, BiOptimizers.
We reached out to them asking if they would sponsor this week’s show because Stacy personally loves and feels different on their magnesium.
If you haven’t felt a difference when you take other magnesium supplements, Stacy recommends that you give BiOptimizers a try.
You can get 10% off with the code WHOLEVIEW10.
However, if you visit this link, the code will automatically be plugged into your shopping cart.
There are some bundle sets at that site link as well that will save you additional money on your purchases.
Sarah noted that this is actually episode 409.
She too is very excited to talk about magnesium.
Sarah feels that this is an undervalued nutrient.
It is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body.
One of the things that Stacy wants to point out is that in light of the recent sleep issue podcast episodes, magnesium is a helpful tool when taken in the evenings.
Magnesium’s Role in the Human Body
Magnesium is necessary for more than 300 different enzymes to work. (5:14)
Whether as a co-factor or a stabilizer, this nutrient is critical in the human body.
Among the enzymes that magnesium is required for to work is every enzyme that uses or synthesizes ATP.
ATP is the basic energy currency of all cells.
So our cells cannot make energy or use energy without magnesium.
ATP is required for everything related to metabolism.
If you start to look at every single action that uses cellular energy or makes cellular energy as magnesium-dependent, it starts to become really easy to see why magnesium is so important for human health.
Plus, it has such a diverse range of effects.
It is also required for the enzymes that synthesize DNA and RNA.
Magnesium is an essential cofactor for many enzymatic reactions involved in neurotransmitter synthesis.
It is also a constituent of bones and teeth and regulates bone formation.
Likewise, magnesium is necessary for the production of testosterone and progesterone.
It is also important for the metabolism of phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sodium, B-complex vitamins, and vitamins C and E.
Magnesium is necessary for all detoxification functions.
It also regulates vascular tone, heart rhythm, platelet-activated thrombosis, blood pressure, and cholesterol production.
When we are not consuming enough magnesium, there is a high connection to hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Lastly, modulates insulin signal transduction and may have a role in regulating insulin secretion.
This is taking a look at magnesium through a micro-view.
For more on the basics of magnesium, see here.
At the Macro Level
Sarah wants to take a step back and look at magnesium function from a macro sense. (9:03)
Magnesium plays a critical role in the stress axis.
Every single aspect of the HPA axis (our flight or fight response) is sensitive to magnesium.
Because over activation of that axis is tied with anxiety and depression, we can see through magnesium’s action on the HPA axis how each hormone in that system is communicating.
In order to function normally, all of that is relying on magnesium.
We can see that magnesium deficiency is probably a necessary precondition for the development of generalized anxiety disorder and depression.
There have been animal studies where they simply don’t give them enough magnesium, and the animals show behaviors that are representative of depression and anxiety.
They can treat those animals with antidepressants and show benefits.
However, when treated with magnesium they show a reversal in symptoms.
In humans, a low level of magnesium in the blood or in the spinal fluid has been associated with depressive symptoms as well as suicidality.
For more on the connection between magnesium and stress, see here.
The other link to look at is sleep. (11:27)
We know that inadequate sleep is also linked with mood.
Now there is a fairly good understanding that magnesium plays a role in regulating sleep.
So it actually regulates the central nervous system excitability and has a calming effect on the central nervous system.
This is the reason why we want to take magnesium in the evening.
Magnesium also helps to promote the activity of GABA.
GABA is one of the main neurotransmitters involved in relaxation and sleep.
There have been a variety of studies showing that there is a direct relationship between the amount of magnesium in the blood and how much people sleep, and how much deep sleep people have.
If you have lots of magnesium in your blood you tend to get a lot better quality sleep, a lot more deep sleep, and less REM sleep.
Studies have shown that supplementation with magnesium improves sleep.
There have even been studies that show that magnesium deficiency may contribute to insomnia.
For more on the insomnia link, see here.
Stacy noted that magnesium is one of those things where it is relatively easy to not have enough of because of how much we actually need it.
Magnesium levels in our blood are generally controlled by our kidneys, and we have this reserved storage that is in our bones at any given time. (14:57)
One of the things that the kidneys can do is take magnesium from our bones to restore it into our blood system.
However, there are certain conditions where we burn through magnesium and we can’t access the stored magnesium fast enough to keep blood levels at an optimum level.
This is primarily related to stress.
When we are stressed, we burn through magnesium really quickly.
It happens in both acute and chronic stress.
Chronic stress can cause magnesium deficiency through a constant turnover of magnesium.
We will come back to the conversation on absorption but are first going to touch on a few more roles of magnesium that Sarah wants to highlight.
Sarah wants listeners to understand how diverse the negative impact is of insufficient magnesium.
Exercise Performance & Recovery
Magnesium is also really important for sports performance and recovery. (17:18)
There have been a variety of studies that show that exercise performance is compromised with insufficient magnesium.
These studies have shown that any way that you can measure performance (ex: grip strength, jumping performance) is sensitive to magnesium.
There are studies showing that having enough magnesium is really important for muscle recovery.
Supplementation with magnesium has a fairly small effect on how muscles recover.
Our bodies cannot metabolize vitamin D without magnesium.
If we are taking a large amount of vitamin D and we aren’t getting enough magnesium via our diet, that vitamin D stays inactive in our bodies.
There have been studies showing that when patients have optimum magnesium levels, they require far lower doses of vitamin D in order to bring their vitamin D levels up.
For more on magnesium and vitamin D, see here and here.
Some of the benefits might be mitigated through the gut microbiome as well. (19:53)
There have been studies showing that a magnesium-deficient diet reduces gut microbial diversity.
Some of the most important bacterial species reduce in a magnesium-deficient diet.
The kidneys are really important for controlling the amount of magnesium in our blood.
It looks as though we can donate magnesium to our gut microbiome when we are chronically not consuming enough magnesium.
Eventually, that magnitude of the effect will diminish, but again it is another reason why getting enough magnesium into us is so important.
Stacy and Sarah briefly chatted about the importance of kidney health and how it relates to your magnesium levels.
High vegetable and fruit consumption, in addition to hydration, are the most important things we can do for our kidney health.
There have been studies in chronic kidney disease where they have done fruit and vegetable interventions, in humans, and they have shown restoration of kidney function by diet alone.
As we talk about high magnesium foods, also knowing that a lot of these are high in potassium, these are really important minerals for kidney function.
If you have kidney disease, please talk to your doctor about whether or not you need to do anything special diet-wise, knowing about these intervention studies surrounding diet modifications.
There is no reason to avoid potassium or magnesium-rich foods if you have healthy kidneys.
The recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 420 milligrams for men, and 320 milligrams for women. (26:50)
If we look at the highest magnesium content food, a 6 oz. serving of fresh tuna would contain 109 milligrams.
And if you consume a cup of cooked spinach (which is the equivalent of 10 cups raw) that would have 157 milligrams of magnesium.
The other foods that are considered magnesium powerhouses are chocolate (65 mg), banana (27 mg), avocado (58 mg), and a 1 oz. serving of almonds (77 mg).
In general, things that are dark green tend to be really high in magnesium.
Nuts and seeds generally have a good amount of magnesium, as well as fish.
You have to be aware of your magnesium content to make sure you are getting enough.
Then there is this whole other piece of chronic stress basically increasing our magnesium needs in a way that is not quantifiable. (29:24)
Quantifying stress is a very hard thing to do in studies.
However, we do know that the more stressed we are, the more magnesium we need.
The standard American diet only provides only about half of the magnesium that we actually need.
Studies estimate that approximately 3/4 of us in Western countries, in general, are magnesium deficient.
There are also racial disparities in magnesium dietary insufficiency.
There was a study published in 2018 that actually looked at dietary intakes of a wide sampling of ethnic backgrounds.
They found that on average 83.3 of the participants were not meeting the recommended level of dietary magnesium intake.
It was about 82.8% in white Americans, 84.4% in Hispanic Americans, and 90.6% of African Americans not getting enough magnesium.
There was an ‘other ethnic group’ that lumped everyone else together and that was 71.8% of those people were not getting enough magnesium.
This 2003 paper makes a case for lower magnesium being a mechanism behind increased hypertension and diabetes.
There have been a couple of papers that are making the case that this lower magnesium intake may be one of the contributing factors to the racial disparities seen in chronic illnesses.
This paper that was looking at different magnesium intakes in different cultural backgrounds, they tried to do statistical analysis to try to hone in on why there are racial disparities in magnesium deficiency.
They say it was due to two factors.
One factor was a socioeconomic disparity, which is the dominant factor.
And the second factor was cultural differences.
Stacy really appreciates that Sarah pulled that data, and finds the information to be fascinating.
Multi-Form Magnesium Supplement
What is really neat about magnesium supplements is that all of these absorbable forms are bound to another thing. (36:46)
So now instead of going through ion channels, we can use the amino acid transport channels to get into the body.
One of the things that you can do is manipulate how magnesium is absorbed by binding it to different amino acids, and by combining forms of magnesium where you are going to take advantage of multiple different transporters.
Magnesium amino acid complexes (or chelates) behave differently from magnesium salts.
The strong and stable bonds between magnesium and the amino acids keep the whole molecule intact in acidic environments.
For more on this, see here.
When complexes travel through the intestinal tract, they bypass the ion channels.
Instead, they use other transport sites called dipeptide channels.
Here, the amino acid and magnesium are carried across the intestinal membrane together.
There are a few key advantages to this.
For one, there are far more dipeptide channels than there are ion channels in the gut.
Magnesium complexes do not compete for the same ion channels used by other minerals.
Another advantage is that the stable bonds protect magnesium from unfavorable chemical reactions that might lead to the creation of unabsorbable precipitates.
Mineral amino acid complexes are actually quite common in nature and a natural way we get magnesium from our diet.
Some of this magnesium is already bound to amino acids, but even when we consume magnesium from salts, amino acids can help!
Peptides and amino acids can bind to magnesium ions and form complexes right in your body.
The Different Forms of Magnesium
Taurine is an amino acid. (40:38)
When combined with magnesium, the two can have a calming effect on both mind and body.
This form is promoted for improving immune function and protecting the heart.
Magnesium Malate is the form of magnesium that is often used for patients who suffer from fatigue or fibromyalgia.
Magnesium Threonate is the newest form of magnesium and it’s still emerging in the marketplace.
It appears to absorb more easily than the others and is used for people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders.
Magnesium Citrate is among the most bioavailable forms of magnesium, meaning that it’s more easily absorbed in your digestive tract than other forms.
This combination includes citric acid, which has mild laxative properties.
Magnesium Glycinate (aka Magnesium Bisglycinate) is easiest for your body to use because it absorbs this form most easily.
This form is commonly recommended for people trying to correct a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium Orotate includes orotic acid, which is a natural substance involved in your body’s construction of genetic material, including DNA.
It’s easily absorbed and doesn’t have the strong laxative effects characteristic of other forms.
Magnesium chelate has a 90% absorption rate.
And the lysine is important for growth and tissue repair, which may play a role in reducing anxiety and normalizing cortisol.
Sarah explained why certain forms of magnesium work as a laxative, and which forms of magnesium you should avoid.
The forms to avoid are Magnesium Oxide, Magnesium Sulfate aka Epsom Salts, and Magnesium Hydroxide.
The Perfect Supplement
So this is why BiOptimizers Breakthrough is so cool is because it has all seven of these forms in one supplement. (47:53)
Bioptimizer Magnesium Breakthrough contains Magnesium Chelate, Magnesium Citrate, Magnesium Bisglycinate, Magnesium Malate, Magnesium L-Threonate, Magnesium Taurate, and Magnesium Orotate.
Sometimes you will find magnesium supplements that will combine one or two forms, but that is it.
This allows us to maximize absorption because now we are using all of these different amino acid transporters.
And this allows us to not overwhelm one transporter, which would trigger us to not absorb our magnesium that well which leads to the laxative effect.
So when you are using all of these transporters you are providing all of these additional amino acids that have each been shown to be beneficial in different circumstances.
Stacy loves all of this information because it so clearly answers her question about why this supplement is working so well for her.
This particular magnesium doesn’t cause Stacy with any digestive issues.
The fact that this particular supplement has a 90% absorption is one of the things that Stacy really wants to highlight.
As someone who has looked into a lot of supplements, she knows that this form actually works and matters.
Stacy does not like taking pills so when she does take any, she wants to make sure that they have a purpose and make a difference.
We need to take a look at the supplements we are taking and make sure that they are quality.
This doesn’t just pertain to magnesium, but all of the supplements we are taking.
In America, we are eating a diet that is deficient in nutrients, and the answer for many is to simply take a supplement.
However, the actual answer should be to pull back and look at the source to investigate how we can alter our diet to get the nutrients in their food form.
And if not, can we take a supplement that is more bioavailable and is more helpful.
Sarah wants to emphasize how challenging it is to get sufficient magnesium from the diet when stress is not managed. (52:53)
Our listeners know that Stacy and Sarah take nutrient density very seriously, and they both work really hard to consume a nutrient-dense diet.
Sarah has been taking magnesium supplements for eight years, and she has experimented with different forms.
However, Sarah is super excited that Bioptimizer Magnesium Breakthrough exists.
Magnesium was one of the earliest supplements she added to her diet.
She really felt a huge difference when she took it just because of this aspect of the impact that chronic stress has on her body.
So Sarah knew that magnesium was something that she needs.
Be sure to talk to a medical professional about any supplement you want to take and run it past them.
Stacy referred listeners to this podcast episode if you need to find a medical professional who you can talk to about supplements and nutrient absorption.
If you haven’t talked to a medical professional in a while, you may want to revisit with them to check that your regimen is still what is best for you.
If you want to try BiOptimizers visit this site and use the code WHOLEVIEW10 for 10% off your order.
Thanks for listeneing!
We will be back again next week! (58:31)