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Foundation Five: Magnesium

Magnesium is an often overlooked mineral affects more than 300 processes in the body, which is why it can feel like your health (and life!) are falling apart if you don’t get enough. 

Why You Need It:

Due to changes in diet and a drop in soil quality, magnesium deficiency has become rampant. There’s been a gradual decline of dietary magnesium from a high of 500 mg/day in 1900 to barely 225 mg today, which is well below the U.S. RDA.

  • Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system, making it critical for stress management and restful sleep. 
  • Serotonin, the brain chemical that elevates mood, is dependent on magnesium. Most anti-depressant drugs try to improve serotonin levels, but getting your magnesium up is natural and may be just as effective since it solves multiple problems at once. 
  • Best known as the mineral of insulin sensitivity, magnesium is key for healthy blood sugar levels. During episodes of high blood sugar, the kidneys are unable to retain magnesium, creating a downward spiral of magnesium deficiency and progression into diabetes. 
  • Lack of magnesium sends the nervous system into overdrive, leading to high blood pressure and overwhelming stress. 
  • Exercise increases magnesium needs by 10 to 20 percent—partly due to high sweat levels and partly due to its role in stress management, fighting inflammation, and allowing the body to clear cortisol. 


How To Test For It:

Only 0.3 percent of the magnesium stored in the body is in the blood, with the rest of it in the bone, muscle and connective tissue. This makes your typical serum blood test useless for assessing magnesium status. Instead, a red blood cell test should be done with optimal values between 5.6 and 6.8 mg/dL for RBC magnesium. 

How To Take It: 

Scientists recommend 10 mg/kg/body weight of magnesium daily (400 to 1,200 mg). Supplement quality is key because if you take cheap magnesium chelates like magnesium oxide, it will cause overrelaxation of the bowel, leading to urgency going to the bathroom. 

Look for magnesium that is bound with any of the following: citrate, malate, glycinate, threonate, taurate, fumarate, or orotate. Best results will come from taking different forms of magnesium in divided doses. For example, you could take magnesium glycinate after a morning workout and a blended magnesium at subsequent meals. 

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