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Why Magnesium (and Not Calcium) Is the Mineral You Should Be Obsessed With

Updated: Sep 3, 2021

Want to relax more, take the edge off stress, sleep better and improve your digestion? The secret to all this and more: magnesium. *

(Next in line would probably be zinc, selenium and-- surprise here-- at least knowing your lithium levels. No one should take calcium supplements. Certainly not calcium without magnesium and vitamin K. But more on that in future posts.)

Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body, with effects on blood vessels, smooth muscle, and metabolism. It has effects on the central nervous system, assisting with migraines, stress management, and helping us sleep. It works to improve electrolyte balance, easing muscle cramps and twitches. Some people report that topical magnesium (oil) at night is the fix they've been searching for for restless leg syndrome.

Recommended daily allowances (for what it's worth) for adult men and women are about 420 and 320 mg, respectively, although absorption and demand need to be taken into account for any given individual. The way vegetables and nuts are grown, processed, shipped in the U.S. these days, it is increasingly difficult to get to these levels even if you're a super conscientious home chef and eater. A growing body of research suggests that a majority of the U.S. population is actually probably magnesium deficient. And while the default go-to supplementation protocols in even the most pro-active, forward thinking health practices these days appear to be fish oil and probiotics, magnesium probably belongs at the top of any list.

Seeds and nuts are the best sources of magnesium: (roasted) pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts and almonds top the list, followed by cashews and pine nuts. Black beans, lima beans and even quinoa are also great. Halibut and pollock (aka walleye) if you're a carnivore. Dark chocolate is said to have its fair share and might be one reason people crave it, or so it is speculated.

Another way to get magnesium-- who knew?-- is through the body's largest organ, your skin. Yes, everything old is new again and the Epsom salt (aka magnesium sulfate) soak of yore suddenly makes alot of sense. Your liver needs sulfur for its detoxification pathways, so with Epsom you're getting a two-fer.

We are kind of sticklers for "knowing your numbers" so encourage folks to test before and then during/after supplementation with just about anything. Magnesium is just about the most elusive thing to measure in the body, though, so some folks might be comfortable just going with subjective symptoms. You can get too much of a good thing, though, so don't go hog wild. So if you do opt to supplement (Glycinate and citrate are our recommended forms. Some fancy pants people tout malate and bis-glycinate.), try not to swill down the day's entire 300 or 400 mg at once: both your body, your brain, and your digestive system prefer more of a slow drip. We typically do a breakfast and dinner or bedtime twice daily dosage.


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