Widespread Magnesium Deficiency
The scientific literature provides extensive evidence of magnesium deficiency in many populations around the world. Dietary intakes of magnesium in the United States have been declining over the last 100 years from about 500 mg/day to 175–225 mg/day. Epidemiological studies in Europe and North America have shown that people consuming Western-type diets are typically low in magnesium, supplying less than 30%–50% of the RDA for magnesium1. Studies have shown that nearly two-thirds of the population in the western world is not receiving the recommended daily allowance for magnesium, a deficiency contributing to a wide-variety of health conditions such as chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, ADHD/ADD, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, muscle weakness, tremors, chronic pain, headaches, and sleep problems.1-3
A Powerful Protective Shield
Magnesium has been called the body’s primary “anti-stress” mineral because of its mood-boosting, calming effect on the brain and nervous system1-6. As a fundamental brain nutrient, it serves important neuroprotective functions in the body, and acts as a vital “protective shield” against environmental toxins and stress7-9. Magnesium serves as an essential co-factor in over 300 enzymes and neurotransmitter systems and has been shown to boost mood, reduce neuro-inflammation, decrease oxidative stress (i.e. slow the aging process), promote vitamin utilization, increase toxin clearance, promote increased blood flow and nutrient delivery through its vasodilatory effects, possess powerful cardioprotective benefits, improve symptoms of ADHD, and promote healthy brain function1-11.
With all of its many benefits, magnesium works best in combination with other nutrients such as chromium12, and the B-complex vitamins13-16. Together, they exert powerful, beneficial effects on mood, focus, stress tolerance, and inflammation1-15. Magnesium is an essential cofactor for the proper utilization of thiamine (B1)13-15 and pyridoxine (B6)16.17, and research suggests that vitamin B6 may also be required for proper magnesium uptake into cells17.
Vitamins Need Minerals
One of the primary functions of minerals is their role in the utilization and activation of the vitamins we consume. For example, if your body is running low on magnesium, it reduces your ability to utilize a number of nutrients including vitamins B1, B6, and D, and even high intakes of these vitamins cannot make up for this deficiency. So, you can become vitamin deficient, in spite of plentiful intake, if you’re deficient in a mineral required for its utilization9-12. Thus, it’s always good to take your vitamins with a combination of complementary minerals (as found in the HempMag product suite) for optimum benefit.
Glutathione, SOD, GPx, and Catalase
Magnesium plays an essential role in the production of the body’s master antioxidant, glutathione18, and also raises levels of the powerful antioxidant enzymes – superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and catalase19-21. These “protector molecules” are essential in neutralizing highly reactive free-radicals, and in detoxifying heavy metals and other toxins that we’re exposed to through our food and environment.
A Vital Neuroprotective Mineral
As one of the body’s primary anti-stress nutrients, magnesium calms and quiets the system through a few primary mechanisms. One involves modulation and inhibition of the body’s primary excitatory receptor called the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. The excitatory amino acids, aspartate and glutamate are activators of this receptor, and when present in excess can kills brain cells in a process known as excitotoxicity. Magnesium is one of your primary protectors against this process. Note: some individuals are more sensitive to the free aspartate or glutamate found in certain foods (or supplements) – one reason I recommend avoiding aspartate/mineral chelates or foods containing added glutamate (e.g. MSG) – which can overstimulate this receptor system and contribute to or produce a variety of adverse effects (e.g. depression, anxiety, chronic pain, headaches, irritability, sleep disturbances). Recent studies also suggest that magnesium has protective effects against age-related mental decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease22-24.
A Natural, Feel-Good Mineral
In addition to its role in regulating NMDA receptor function – magnesium serves a vital role in the function of the love, bonding, and anti-stress hormone oxytocin25. Like oxytocin, the calming, inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA also requires sufficient magnesium for its proper function26 – as does dopamine, serotonin, and the opioid (endorphin) system as well27-31. In fact, all of your feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones need sufficient magnesium for their optimal functioning25-31.
Need Increases During Physical and Mental Stress
Those who are under chronic stress, or have experienced a recent trauma or injury, would especially benefit from additional amounts of magnesium, as greater amounts are loss during physical, chemical, or psychological stress, which have been shown to reduce the brain magnesium level. Magnesium also improves blood flow to the brain and other tissues via its vasodilatory action important in nutrient delivery and healing21.
When it comes to diagnosing magnesium deficiency, due to the fact that serum magnesium does not reflect intracellular magnesium stores – which make up more than 99% of the total body magnesium – most cases of magnesium deficiency are undiagnosed. Furthermore, because of decreases in food crop magnesium content, chronic diseases, medications (e.g. diuretics) – excess alcohol, refined sugar, caffeine, phosphoric acid (soda) consumption and the availability of refined and processed foods – the vast majority of people in western societies are at risk for magnesium deficiency32,33. Depending on your body weight – taking 200-800 mg per day (consult with your healthcare professional for the dose that best suits your needs) of a high-quality, highly bioavailable magnesium supplement – such as magnesium malate, taurinate, glycinate, or threonate will assist in correcting a deficiency, if present.
If you’re interested in improving your mood, cognitive function, stress tolerance, energy level, quality of sleep, and general state of well-being – optimizing your intake of this critically important nutrient should be at the very top of your list.
- Gröber U, Schmidt J, Kisters K. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients. 2015 Sep 23;7(9):8199-226.
- Schwalfenberg GK, Genuis SJ. The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare. Scientifica (Cairo). 2017;2017:4179326.
- Kirkland AE, Sarlo GL, Holton KF. The Role of Magnesium in Neurological Disorders. Nutrients. 2018 Jun 6;10(6). pii: E730.
- Mousain-Bosc M, Roche M, Rapin J, Bali JP. Magnesium VitB6 intake reduces central nervous system hyperexcitability in children. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):545S-548S.
- Mousain-Bosc M., Roche M., Polge A., Pradal-Prat D., Rapin J., Bali J.P. Improvement of neurobehavioral disorders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6. I. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. Magnes. Res. 2006;19:46–52.
- Starobrat-Hermelin B, Kozielec T. The effects of magnesium physiological supplementation on hyperactivity in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Positive response to magnesium oral loading test. Magnes Res. 1997 Jun;10(2):149-56.
- Barbagallo M., Belvedere M., Dominguez L.J. Magnesium homeostasis and aging. Res. 2009;22:235–246.
- Eby GA, Eby KL. Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment. Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(2):362-70.
- Toffa DH, Magnerou MA, Kassab A, Djibo FH, Sow AD. Can magnesium reduce central neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease? Basic evidences and research needs. Neurochem Int. 2019 Mar 21. pii: S0197-0186(18)30676-4.
- James J DiNicolantonio, James H O’Keefe, and William Wilson. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart. 2018; 5(1): e000668.
- David W. Killilea, Jeanette A.M. Maier. A connection between magnesium deficiency and aging: new insights from cellular studies. Magnes Res. 2008 Jun; 21(2): 77–82.
- Dou M, et al. Combined chromium and magnesium decreases insulin resistance more effectively than either alone. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2016 Dec;25(4):747-753.
- Dingwall KM, Delima JF, Gent D, Batey RG. Hypomagnesaemia and its potential impact on thiamine utilisation in patients with alcohol misuse at the Alice Springs Hospital. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2015 May;34(3):323-8.
- Dyckner T, Ek B, Nyhlin H, Wester PO. Aggravation of thiamine deficiency by magnesium depletion. A case report. Acta Med Scand. 1985;218(1):129-31.
- Peake RW, Godber IM, Maguire D. The effect of magnesium administration on erythrocyte transketolase activity in alcoholic patients treated with thiamine. Scott Med J. 2013 Aug;58(3):139-42.
- Planells E, Lerma A, Sánchez-Morito N, Aranda P, LLopis J. Effect of magnesium deficiency on vitamin B2 and B6 status in the rat. J Am Coll Nutr. 1997 Aug;16(4):352-6.
- Abraham GE, Schwartz UD, Lubran MM. Effect of vitamin B-6 on plasma and red blood cell magnesium levels in premenopausal women. Ann Clin Lab Sci. 1981 Jul-Aug;11(4):333-6.
- Khalilzadeh M, Abdollahi A, Abdolahi F, Abdolghaffari AH, Dehpour AR, Jazaeri F. Protective effects of magnesium sulfate against doxorubicin induced cardiotoxicity in rats. Life Sci. 2018 Aug 15;207:436-441.
- King D.E., Mainous A.G., III, Geesey M.E., Ellis T. Magnesium intake and serum C-reactive protein levels in children. Magnes. Res. 2007;20:32–36.
- Chen N, et al. Protective Effects of Magnesium Sulfate on Radiation Induced Brain Injury in Rats. Curr Drug Deliv. 2018;15(8):1159-1166.
- Kostov K, Halacheva L. Role of Magnesium Deficiency in Promoting Atherosclerosis, Endothelial Dysfunction, and Arterial Stiffening as Risk Factors for Hypertension. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jun 11;19(6). pii: E1724.
- Li W et al. Elevation of brain magnesium prevents synaptic loss and reverses cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Mol Brain. 2014 Sep 13;7:65.
- Veronese N, et al. Magnesium Status in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Systematic Review. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2016 May;31(3):208-13. Magnesium in Alzheimer’s disease.
- Chui D, et al. Editors: Vink R, Nechifor M. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011.
- Antoni FA, Chadio SE. Essential role of magnesium in oxytocin-receptor affinity and ligand specificity. Biochem J. 1989 Jan 15; 257(2): 611–614.
- Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2012 Dec;17(12):1161-9.
- Vink R, Nechifor M. Magnesium in drug abuse and addiction. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011.
- Standifer KM, Clark JA, Pasternak GW. Modulation of Mu1 opioid binding by magnesium: evidence for multiple receptor conformations. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1993 Jul;266(1):106-13.
- Haryalchi K, Abedinzade M, Khanaki K, Mansour Ghanaie M, Mohammad Zadeh F. Whether preventive low dose magnesium sulphate infusion has an influence on postoperative pain perception and the level of serum beta-endorphin throughout the total abdominal hysterectomy. Rev Esp Anestesiol Reanim. 2017 Aug – Sep;64(7):384-390.
- Begon S, Pickering G, Eschalier A, Dubray C. Magnesium increases morphine analgesic effect in different experimental models of pain. Anesthesiology. 2002 Mar;96(3):627-32.
- Bujalska-Zadrożny M, Tatarkiewicz J, Kulik K, Filip M, Naruszewicz M. Magnesium enhances opioid-induced analgesia – What we have learnt in the past decades? Eur J Pharm Sci. 2017 Mar 1;99:113-127.
- Johnson S. The multifaceted and widespread pathology of magnesium deficiency. Med Hypotheses. 2001 Feb;56(2):163-70.
- Di Nicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH, Wilson W. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart. 2018 Jan 13;5(1):e000668.