By Jill Levy
Did you know that having low levels of magnesium is one of the leading nutrient deficiencies affecting adults? It’s estimated that a whopping 80 percent of adults may be running low in this vital mineral, which is why it’s a good idea to consider taking a magnesium supplement regularly, especially if you’re not eating plenty of magnesium-rich foods.
Magnesium helps to support bone health, heart health and even a positive mindset. Although we only need small amounts of magnesium relative to other nutrients, we must regularly replenish our stores, either from foods or magnesium supplements.
If you want to keep your magnesium levels in tip-top shape, what’s the best magnesium supplement to take? Let’s take a look below at why it’s so important to consume adequate amounts of this electrolyte mineral, plus the best way to get the amount daily that your body needs.
Of course, you should always consult your healthcare professional prior to starting any new dietary or lifestyle routine, including a magnesium supplement.
Do You Want to Maintain Your Magnesium Levels?
Magnesium is an essential mineral and also an electrolyte, which means it has an electric charge that helps with many cellular functions in the body.
Another name for low magnesium levels is hypomagnesemia. The kidneys primarily control levels of magnesium within the body and excrete magnesium into the urine each day, which is one reason why urinary excretion is reduced when magnesium and other electrolyte statuses are coming up short.
What does magnesium do for the body, and why is it important to maintain its levels? Magnesium is actually the least abundant serum electrolyte in the body, but it’s still extremely important for your overall metabolism, enzyme function, energy production and neurotransmitter functions.
The human body naturally loses stores of magnesium every day from normal functions, such as muscle movement, heartbeats and hormone production. While it’s best to get as much of this mineral as you can from natural magnesium-rich food sources, magnesium supplements can also help some people who may sometimes have lower-than-ideal levels, such as older adults, athletes and anyone under a lot of stress.
Another important reason to maintain normal levels of this mineral is because of how it interacts with other nutrients. Magnesium is connected to calcium, vitamin K and vitamin D, so anyone of these nutrients can affect the functions of the other nutrients .
Magnesium may not be the most present mineral in our bodies in terms of its quantity, but it’s certainly one of the most crucial to overall health. It’s involved in over 300 biochemical functions in the body. Generally speaking, this mineral has benefits and uses including:
- Supporting bone health
- Supporting a positive outlook and calmness
- Supporting healthy immune system function
- Supporting healthy heartbeat rhythms and healthy blood pressure
- Balancing nitric oxide in the body
- Supporting growth and development in babies and children
- Supporting proper function of nerves, muscles and tissue
- Balancing stomach acid
- Supporting digestive processes by moving stools through the intestine
Magnesium is naturally present in some foods — especially vegetables, fruits, some nuts and beans, and dairy products — and synthetically added to other food products. A good rule of thumb is that if a food contains dietary fiber (like leafy greens, avocado or beans), then it also probably provides magnesium.
A healthy diet that includes a variety of whole foods is the best way to meet your needs for this mineral. What foods are high in magnesium that we should be including our diets?
Some of the best magnesium-rich foods to focus on include (percentages based on the RDA for adult women of 320 milligrams/day):
- Spinach: 1 cup cooked = 157 milligrams (49 percent)
- Swiss Chard: 1 cup cooked = 150 milligrams (47 percent)
- Black Beans: 1 cup cooked = 120 milligrams (37 percent)
- Mung Beans: 1 cup cooked = 97 milligrams (30 percent)
- Almonds: ¼ cup = 97 milligrams (30 percent)
- Cashews: ¼ cup = 91 milligrams (28 percent)
- Potatoes: 1 large = 85 milligrams (26 percent)
- Pumpkin Seeds: 1/4 cup = 42 milligrams (13 percent)
- Avocado: 1 raw = 39 milligrams (12 percent)
- Bananas: 1 banana = 37 milligrams (11 percent)
- Broccoli: 1 cup cooked = 32 milligrams (10 percent)
- Brussels Sprouts: 1 cup cooked = 32 milligrams (10 percent)
Best Magnesium Supplement
In addition to eating foods like dark leafy greens, beans, avocado and almonds, you can obtain extra magnesium from supplements if you suspect your intake is low. Again, you should always check with your healthcare professional first.
Looking for the best magnesium supplement for sleep, leg muscle-soothing relief, cardiovascular support or calming benefits?
Magnesium supplements are available in a variety of forms; the absorption rate and bioavailability of magnesium supplements differs depending on the kind. Generally speaking, types that dissolve in liquid are thought to be better absorbed in the gut than less soluble forms.
Some popular types of magnesium supplements include magnesium citrate, chelate, chloride, oxide and sulfate.
Magnesium Chelate — Thought to be highly absorbable by the body and the kind found in foods naturally. This type is bound to multiple amino acids (proteins) and used to boost magnesium levels, plus it may help support calmness and muscle comfort.
Magnesium chelate is the form found in Ancient Nutrition’s Magnesium supplement, which is powered by fermentation and enzymatic activation. Ancient Nutrition’s unique formula also features vitamin D and multi-kingdom ingredients inspired by TCM (Traditional Chinese Method) for added immune, outlook and bone support.
Magnesium Citrate — This is magnesium combined with citric acid. It may have a laxative effect in some cases when taken in high doses but can otherwise support digestion. It’s also thought to be one of the best magnesium supplements for leg muscle relief.
Magnesium Chloride Oil — An oil form of magnesium that can be applied to skin. It’s also given to people who have trouble absorbing magnesium. Athletes sometimes use magnesium oil to help manage soothe muscles.
Magnesium Glycinate — Thought to be highly absorbable, this is recommended for anyone truly coming up short on magnesium. (Be sure to consult your healthcare professional.) It features magnesium bound to glycinate, a byproduct of glycine, which is an amino acid thought to support calmness. It’s also considered one of the best magnesium supplements for general anxiousness or during times of unrelenting stress.
Magnesium Threonate — It has a high level of absorbability/bioavailability since it may penetrate the mitochondrial membrane. This type is not as readily available, but as more research is conducted, it may become more widely used.
Magnesium Orotate — These supplements have orotic acid, which is believed to support healthy heart function. While this form isn’t one of the most popular, it may be one of the preferred magnesium supplements for heart support.
Magnesium Oxide — Also known as “milk of magnesia” and often used to support overall digestion.
If you’re going to supplement, when should you take magnesium? The best time of day to take magnesium for most people is right before bed. It’s also a good idea to split doses, taking some in the morning and some at night, which can often help with absorption.
How much should you take? Magnesium needs vary on different individual factors, like your age and gender. According to the National Institutes of Health NIH), below are general recommendations for daily intakes of magnesium based on age:
- Infants–6 months: 30 milligrams
- 7–12 months: 75 milligrams
- 1–3 years: 80 milligrams
- 4–8 years: 130 milligrams
- 9–13 years: 240 milligrams
- 14–18 years: 410 milligrams for men; 360 milligrams for women
- 19–30 years: 400 milligrams for men; 310 milligrams for women
- Adults 31 years and older: 420 milligrams for men; 320 milligrams for women
- Pregnant women: 350-360 milligrams
- Women who are breastfeeding: 310-320 milligrams
Generally speaking, most authorities state that doses less than 350 milligrams per day are safest for most adults; in other words, the “daily upper intake level” for magnesium is 350 mg for anyone over 8 years old, unless your doctor tells you otherwise, so make sure to consult your healthcare professional prior to use. You should also always read and follow label directions.
Jill Levy has been with the Dr. Axe and Ancient Nutrition team for five years. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Fairfield University, followed by a certification as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Jill takes a “non-diet” approach to health and really enjoys teaching others about mindful eating, intuitive eating and the benefits of eating real foods.