Magnesium in simple terms

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Magnesium is essential to your digestive health. Magnesium is used as some of the building blocks of the body’s digestive enzymes. It is also used by the colon as an osmotic laxative. Magnesium also helps keep the intestines from contracting too frequently as well.

Magnesium is important in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. It also helps regulate blood sugar in the body. It also helps to relax the muscles including blood vessels. It also chelates extra Calcium in the body; this keeps the arteries from hardening due to excess calcium. Magnesium can also help lower blood pressure as well as help with anxiety.

Magnesium Food Intake

Dietary intake of magnesium may be low, particularly among women. Alcohol abuse increases the risk for magnesium deficiency. The elderly are at risk for magnesium deficiency due to reduced magnesium absorption by the body and often the presence of diseases that also affect magnesium absorption. 

Magnesium has to be supplemented because even if you eat a perfect diet you would still have to eat a ton of nuts, brown rice, avocados, and spinach to keep from developing a deficiency. To even get around 400 mg a day you would have to eat one cup of cooked spinach (157 mg), 1 ounce of pumpkin seeds (150 mg), 1 avocado (56 mg), and 1 cup of cooked brown rice (86 mg) a day on average (449 mg of magnesium total). These amounts also don't count the magnesium bonded to phytic acid in the pumpkin seeds, in the brown rice, and individual intestinal absorption of magnesium for different patients.

So to be conservative let's say that after a patient ate all this food they only absorbed 300 mg of magnesium from the food. Imagine if you had to take in 1,000 mg of magnesium daily. You would have to intake 3 cups of cooked spinach, 3 ounces of pumpkin seeds, 3 avocados, and 3 cups of brown rice throughout the day. Good luck ).

Because of common sense, most people would argue that since ancient man didn't take in much magnesium through food as much as modern man, why do we need to supplement it at all or in such large amounts? A few theories have been mentioned to answer this question one of those theories is that the water ancient man drank had a higher concentration of magnesium in it. Because water had a greater magnesium concentration so did the plants, nuts, and animal meat and bones that ancient man consumed in their diet. Also since ancient man wasn't under as much stress as modern man seems to be, their bodies don't magnesium waste quite as much and were able to hang on to more magnesium on a cellular level.

Oral Magnesium Supplementation

 Magnesium is a natural anti-acid unless the magnesium is chelated with an acid or a chelation that simulates production of HCL in the stomach. For this reason I have broken up the different magnesium's, and if they should be taken before bed or with a meal.

The general magnesium protocol for a patient that weighs greater than 45 kg (100 pounds) is that they should take at least 600 mg of elemental magnesium for 4-6 months, then 400 mg thereafter. If a patient weighs less than 45 kg (100 pounds), 600 mg of elemental magnesium should be taken for 2 months, and then 400 mg thereafter. This isn't the optimal amount of magnesium that a patient should take daily, but this is a good standard protocol to follow.

The amount of magnesium taken by a patient depends on their weight. The average basis for good magnesium cellular saturation is between 7 mg - 10 mg per kilogram a day. This means the ideal amount for a patient who is 90 kg (200 pounds) is about 800 mg of magnesium a day.

If a patient has kidney disease their magnesium intake needs to be greatly monitored, since good kidney function is needed to excrete excess magnesium.

Transdermal Magnesium Supplementation

Transdermal magnesium can be very important if you want to quickly raise intercellular levels of magnesium in your body. Oral magnesium supplementation can take 6-10 months to properly raise your magnesium levels to a normal range. Transdermal supplementation on the other hand can take only 3-4 months. Taking epsom salt baths twice a day, can be one way to increase transdermal supplementation. The best way to use transdermal magnesium is to use a magnesium gel like MagneGel. MagneGel delivers approximately 150mg of elemental magnesium per 1/4 teaspoon to the skin, or about the size of a nickel. I would suggest applying 900 mg-1,200mg transdermal daily.

Both Oral And Transdermal Supplementation

The best option is to use both oral and transdermal supplementation. I would take 400 mg of elemental oral magnesium daily, and use MagneGel once or twice a day. This way you would get around 1,000-1,400 mg of total magnesium intake a day. 

Magnesium Dosage Based On Weight and Sex

All of these magnesium dose recommendations are for a person that weighs roughly 200 pounds (1,000 mg daily). If you weigh 100 pounds, I would divide the total magnesium intake daily to around 600-800 mg of magnesium a day to increase magnesium levels. If you weigh more than 350 pounds you might want to increase daily magnesium intake to about 1,400 mg, as long as you have adequate kidney function. Women who are ovulating might want to increase their magnesium by about 150-200 mg daily when they are on their periods.

Building Magnesium Levels, When to Test, and Maintenance Dosage 

I would suggest that anyone wanting to supplement their magnesium to have their EXA levels tested first. If your magnesium is low then follow the recommendations from the guide above. Depending on how low your level of stored magnesium is, is how long you should take magnesium at these levels. If you levels are low you should supplement for about three to six months and then test your magnesium again.

If your magnesium levels are normal you should take a daily supplementation of elemental magnesium of about 400 - 600 mg daily. Even if your magnesium levels are normal, and you have a specific medical reason to increase your magnesium above these levels (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Nerve Damage, and Brain Trauma are some examples), you should be fine to increase supplementation as long as you have adequate kidney function. You will need to get your magnesium levels tested frequently (every 2-3 months), to make sure hypermagnesemia doesn't occur.


Hypermagnesemia is a rare condition in which a person has too much magnesium in their blood plasma. This usually doesn't happen in patients that take supplemental magnesium, but it can happen if a person has inadequate kidney function. It usually happens in patients with poor kidney function and patients that receive an overdose of IV magnesium. Rarely, supplemental magnesium causes hypermagnesemia, this is because the kidneys are very good at excreting excess magnesium.

Diagnostic symptoms are usually a combination of low blood sugar and high calcium. Symptoms usually include weakness, vomiting, impaired breathing, hypotension, increased blood calcium levels, arrhythmia, lack of muscle reflexes, and bradycardia (slow heart rate). It is possible that if one's plasma magnesium level is too high the heart can stop causing an "heart attack". This is because magnesium is a muscle relaxant, but this outcome is extremely rare.

Treatment for hypermagnesemia includes giving IV calcium gluconate to inactivate and bind to the excess magnesium. The calcium also reactivates the muscle cells because calcium is a muscle stimulator. Finally, dialysis might be needed in some cases to eliminate excess magnesium and to help with kidney function.

Tests for Magnesium Deficiency

Majority of Americans are deficient in Magnesium (could be as high as 80%), and this will cause the already epidemic of diabetes and heart disease to explode! Now you have probably had a magnesium blood test in your adult life and the test results came back as normal. Well don't feel relived just yet! Your body's total magnesium that is reflected on the results of the blood test is only about 2%, and your body does whatever it can to keep this level normal.

If this level isn’t maintained you could suffer from heart arrhythmia and even possibly have a heart attack! Majority of Americans are deficient in magnesium, in their bones, organs and even on a cellular level. The only way to get an adequate count of total magnesium is to have your doctor order a magnesium EXA test.

Magnesium Serum Test – This is the most common magnesium test preformed and also the most inaccurate. Less that 1% of the body’s total magnesium is in the blood plasma and the body does whatever it takes to keep that number regular. If you score low on a plasma test then you are in dire need of magnesium and you are definitely deficient in your bones, organs and muscles.

Magnesium RBC Test – This is a better test that quantifies the amount of magnesium stored in your blood cells and bones. You want a score greater than 6mg/dl to assure good magnesium reserves stored in your body.

Magnesium EXA Test – This is the best test to determine magnesium deficiency. Your cheek buccal cells are scraped for this test so that levels of magnesium stored in your cells, bones and muscles can be determined.This is the most accurate test for magnesium available. 

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