80% of the population has magnesium deficiencies due to insufficient diets or very high requirements.
Magnesium is mainly found in plant foods such as seeds, fruits, legumes and cereals, in particular pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, peanuts, chickpeas, peas and bulgur.
As you may have noticed, magnesium is in foods that you probably incorporate regularly, what happens is that the fertilizers or pesticides used can act as chelators and prevent its absorption. Also, the type of soil that is less and less rich in minerals has an impact on the concentration of magnesium in the food. Finally, the consumption of refined cereals will decrease the daily intake of this mineral, since choosing whole grain cereals is the only way in which we can benefit the most from vitamins and minerals.
In addition, there are certain populations in which the need for magnesium will be greater, such as athletes or people suffering from stress.
Magnesium in our body
Although magnesium can be detected in the blood, the vast majority of magnesium in our body is found in tissues and bone, so it would not be entirely representative if in a blood test our parameters were within the normal range.
The most indicative of a magnesium deficiency are symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, nervousness, insomnia and muscle disorders such as cramps and increased contractures.
In this post I am going to talk especially about how magnesium deficiency can affect the nervous and muscular systems.
Low magnesium levels have been shown to be associated with anxiety, depression and mood swings. The reason is that magnesium is involved in reactions in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This hormonal axis is directly related to stress as it triggers the secretion of cortisol.
During periods of stress there is an increase in cortisol levels which will cause a progressive loss of magnesium levels in the body. On the other hand, the less magnesium in the body the more cortisol levels shoot up, making it a fish that bites its own tail.
Several studies have shown that supplementing with magnesium will lower blood cortisol levels and consequently calm the central nervous system and help you sleep better.
Magnesium plays a very important role in the regulation of sleep through three mechanisms: the first is through the union with the GABAergic receptors, not to be too technical but let's understand what this implies, these receptors are the same where hypnotics or benzodiazepines such as lorazepam, diazepam and an endless list of drugs ending in -pam that are prescribed to sleep. In addition, a magnesium deficiency is related to low levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Finally, as I mentioned, as it has an undoubted anti-stress power and reduces cortisol levels, it will also have an impact on a better quality of sleep.
A study conducted in 2021 with more than 3000 participants assessed not only the duration but also the quality of sleep, the results? You can imagine, it showed a clear relationship between those people with a higher intake of magnesium and those who slept better.
The balance between magnesium and calcium will be fundamental in the contraction and relaxation of the muscle. Magnesium will decrease the levels of calcium in the muscle promoting its relaxation.
In short, it will act as a natural diazepam being useful both in the prevention and treatment of contractures.
In addition, as it participates in energy metabolism, it will also be ideal for people with muscle fatigue and athletes, as this group of people will have increased requirements.
Which magnesium to choose?
When choosing a magnesium for stress, insomnia or muscle care, what we are interested in is that it is bioavailable, that is, that it is correctly absorbed at intestinal level. Otherwise, we will only get a laxative or antacid activity as in the case of magnesia creams.
Forms with a correct absorption are those organic forms such as glycinate or citrate while oxide or chloride forms will remain mostly in the digestive tract.
Another alternative to increase the absorption of this mineral is to combine different magnesium salts such as trimag.
In addition, when it comes to nervous well-being, those supplements that combine it with vitamin B6 will achieve a synergistic action. Taurine will also bind magnesium in the cells and reinforce its calming action.
As far as quantity is concerned, the reference dietary intake of magnesium for the population is 6mg/Kg/day (about 300mg/day for women and about 350mg/day for men).