9

votes

How can we get enough magnesium?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created February 27, 2010 at 7:36 PM

Magnesium has come up in a few questions and it certainly seems like something worth trying to get more of. My question is, how the heck do we get enough of it? Looking at magnesium levels in food, it seems like hitting 100% RDA from just dietary sources is nearly impossible.

In the past, I've taken multivitamins that contain 100% RDA of magnesium (the multis that are six big pills a day, not the one-a-day kind) but I'm not sure if the magnesium in these is in an appropriate format. For one thing, these multis tend to also contain 100% RDA calcium which some have suggested could block magnesium absorption. These multis also tend to contain 100%+ of pretty much everything and I'm frankly not sure that that's a good thing for someone already getting a ton of vitamins and minerals from diet.

Looking at Amazon, magnesium supplements come in a bazillion different varieties -- taurate, citrate, malate, glycinate, chloride, caps, gels, flakes, and so on. What kind do I want?

So it comes down to two questions...

  1. Are there dietary sources that I'm missing that can provide adequate magnesium?
  2. If not, what form of magnesium supplement is best?

3013d1b44fd7f65b4c8412f229d1d00e

on September 08, 2013
at 07:46 AM

The demineralized nature of most American soil is the primary reason we need to supplement in ways our ancestors didn't. See Dean's book, "The Magnesium Miracle" for more on the subject. Even many organic food producers don't feed the soil to boost the nutritional value of the food grown in it. (After all, "organic" food in the US is food lacking the presence of pesticides and similar chemicals; the presence of high nutrients isn't required.)

3013d1b44fd7f65b4c8412f229d1d00e

on September 08, 2013
at 07:42 AM

Dean's book is excellent! A must-read.

736662d9fd6314d426cc6de1896aa045

(175)

on September 06, 2013
at 05:51 PM

Thanks for that. Quick google gave this "how to" post for magnesium oil + useful comments section: http://www.cheeseslave.com/how-to-make-magnesium-oil/

Medium avatar

(5639)

on March 20, 2011
at 01:21 AM

I just took an Epsom salt bath because my feet were sore from running the other day. Didn't know that I'd be absorbing Mg that way though! I had a wicked headache earlier, and I guess now that you mention it, it IS kind of dissipating.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on March 15, 2011
at 10:03 PM

I just heat some spinach in a pan with some water (I've only used canned/frozen spinach), then puree with a hand blender and add some cream or butter. No need for anything else, but I often throw in seaweed as well, post-blending.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on March 15, 2011
at 08:25 PM

I'm interested in spinach to edible creamy soup conversion ?

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on March 12, 2011
at 01:38 PM

^^Probably bioavailability. There is no "magnesium" per se, so I presume you have magnesium oxide which Dave H. reported (lower comment) to "- it's very difficult for our bodies to absorb much of it."

2f653fa504adc81612619106e7d1f65e

(455)

on October 24, 2010
at 05:28 AM

I did not know this but I love epsom salt baths

3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on July 17, 2010
at 03:08 PM

http://www.mattmetzgar.com/matt_metzgar/2010/06/paleo-spa-treatment.html Vitamin D supplementation also can lower Mag levels which makes sense -- we are making stronger and denser bones and muscles and infrastructures.

3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on July 17, 2010
at 03:04 PM

Magnesium in sea water is apparently well absorbed from skin.

Fe783e04644862c30823614f31b9a996

(499)

on March 11, 2010
at 09:21 PM

fixed it up for you, bean.

58a55f0986b8f49a8bc5666e10492569

on March 04, 2010
at 06:52 AM

No - I tend in the other direction, so it's an aid to me. Some say that if you increase the dosage until you're loose, and then cut back a bit, that's the right amount for you.

Fe783e04644862c30823614f31b9a996

(499)

on March 03, 2010
at 03:10 AM

fitday.com, my friend, FitDay.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on March 02, 2010
at 05:57 PM

Dave, have you had any problems with diarrhea from Mg-citrate? It's also sold as a laxative. Is it just a matter of dosage?

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on March 01, 2010
at 10:45 PM

How much of each is how much mg?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 28, 2010
at 09:05 PM

my grandfather has a working vegetable farm. can i buy a soil tester kit and see how his soils fair? is it a difficult test to do?

5cd18bfcafadc56292971e59f2f1faf6

(2475)

on February 28, 2010
at 05:20 PM

Spinach is a favorite of mine and my main dietary source of magnesium but, wow, two cans a day is a lot! I like the creamy soup idea though. Maybe a half-spinach/half-supplement approach would work well for me.

52cae90a114ca8f0404948e2b7ccb7ef

(1595)

on February 28, 2010
at 02:43 PM

I don't know...

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 28, 2010
at 01:05 PM

It's also depleted in the soil.

14aa918d730371ed14f8e7e7d6eb6587

(373)

on February 28, 2010
at 05:44 AM

What's the difference between mg citrate and mg? I've been taking this Purely Magnesium stuff from Kal: https://vitanetonline.com/description/36766/vitamins/Purely-Magnesium/ Does that work?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 28, 2010
at 01:53 AM

i saw searching that someone reported the eades say that mg has been lost during the purification process for drinking water. does that mean that people who drink country well water will have more mg? can i get a blood test to see if i am deficient in mg?

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17 Answers

8
Fe783e04644862c30823614f31b9a996

on February 28, 2010
at 05:24 PM

~A day's worth of paleo food-sourced magnesium without supplementation:

  • 2 oz. nuts (macadamia, almond, walnut...) - 16-38% DV
  • 8 oz. broccoli - steamed, sauteed, raw - 8% DV
  • small can sardines or salmon - 9-38% DV
  • 4 oz. kale with four eggs - 12% DV
  • 10 g. raw cacao nibs in your (one cup) coconut milk smoothie - 29% DV
  • salad - red leaf lettuce (1/3 head) + scallions (1 oz.) + lemon juice (1/2 lemon) - 5% DV

    = 79-130% DV

Fe783e04644862c30823614f31b9a996

(499)

on March 03, 2010
at 03:10 AM

fitday.com, my friend, FitDay.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on March 01, 2010
at 10:45 PM

How much of each is how much mg?

Fe783e04644862c30823614f31b9a996

(499)

on March 11, 2010
at 09:21 PM

fixed it up for you, bean.

6
58a55f0986b8f49a8bc5666e10492569

on February 27, 2010
at 10:19 PM

For the money, magnesium citrate powder is the best deal. I like the "Natural Calm."

Avoid supplements with magnesium oxide - it's very difficult for our bodies to absorb much of it.

By the way, the bible concerning magnesium IMHO is "The Magnesium Miracle" by Carolyn Dean, MD, ND.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on March 02, 2010
at 05:57 PM

Dave, have you had any problems with diarrhea from Mg-citrate? It's also sold as a laxative. Is it just a matter of dosage?

58a55f0986b8f49a8bc5666e10492569

on March 04, 2010
at 06:52 AM

No - I tend in the other direction, so it's an aid to me. Some say that if you increase the dosage until you're loose, and then cut back a bit, that's the right amount for you.

3013d1b44fd7f65b4c8412f229d1d00e

on September 08, 2013
at 07:42 AM

Dean's book is excellent! A must-read.

6
52cae90a114ca8f0404948e2b7ccb7ef

(1595)

on February 27, 2010
at 08:23 PM

As a lazy paleo, I just take Now Foods, Magnesium Citrate, 200 mg tablets, twice a day which I happily purchase from iHerb.com.

EDIT: It looks like Dr. Kurt G. Harris of PaleoNu.com has started taking Mg Citrate as well. http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/02/magnesium-and-insulin-sensitivity.html?showComment=1267032364308#c1405753174744572544

14aa918d730371ed14f8e7e7d6eb6587

(373)

on February 28, 2010
at 05:44 AM

What's the difference between mg citrate and mg? I've been taking this Purely Magnesium stuff from Kal: https://vitanetonline.com/description/36766/vitamins/Purely-Magnesium/ Does that work?

52cae90a114ca8f0404948e2b7ccb7ef

(1595)

on February 28, 2010
at 02:43 PM

I don't know...

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on March 12, 2011
at 01:38 PM

^^Probably bioavailability. There is no "magnesium" per se, so I presume you have magnesium oxide which Dave H. reported (lower comment) to "- it's very difficult for our bodies to absorb much of it."

4
5ebeec76e20738d0a17cd724d64b1e0f

on March 02, 2010
at 01:05 AM

Mg supplementation is a good idea for many reasons: it can take a long time to correct deficiencies; your kidneys can leak Mg for a number of reasons, including borderline-high blood sugar; many conventional foods are low in Mg, etc, etc.

The most absorbable sources tend to be the amino acid chelates, such as Mg Glycinate, Mg Taurate, Mg Aspartate, etc. Mg Citrate is also good, not because it's particularly well absorbed, but because it's inexpensive, so it's easy to take a lot of it (Natural Calm is a good source, and it also tastes OK).

Mg oxide is the poorest form, and should be avoided.

Mg Chloride is in-between. There's a time-release form of it called Slow-Mag that can be a pretty good option. It's also available as a liquid, which works well (but tastes terrible!)

In case you're interested, I've posted a bunch of info and references about Mg at my blog.

4
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 01, 2010
at 10:22 PM

Instead of ingesting a magnesium supplement, magnesium can be absorbed by soaking in a tub with epsom salts dissolved in the bath water.

Maybe that method coupled with eating magnesium rich foods could be enough to top up magnesium to an adequate level.

2f653fa504adc81612619106e7d1f65e

(455)

on October 24, 2010
at 05:28 AM

I did not know this but I love epsom salt baths

Medium avatar

(5639)

on March 20, 2011
at 01:21 AM

I just took an Epsom salt bath because my feet were sore from running the other day. Didn't know that I'd be absorbing Mg that way though! I had a wicked headache earlier, and I guess now that you mention it, it IS kind of dissipating.

4
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 28, 2010
at 01:45 AM

i don't like taking supplements unless someone can tell me why paleolithic people could get enough of the nutirent, but moderns will have trouble. i understand the argument for vita d supplementation (like office job, not enough time out in the sun) or iodine supplementation (iodine depleted soils), but what is the argument for magnesium supplementation? also, how do you know if you are deficient in the first place? some people get leg cramps and take that as a sign, but i don't have that problem. i would like to take as few supplements as possible. Ps is my rep score getting higher?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 28, 2010
at 01:05 PM

It's also depleted in the soil.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 28, 2010
at 01:53 AM

i saw searching that someone reported the eades say that mg has been lost during the purification process for drinking water. does that mean that people who drink country well water will have more mg? can i get a blood test to see if i am deficient in mg?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 28, 2010
at 09:05 PM

my grandfather has a working vegetable farm. can i buy a soil tester kit and see how his soils fair? is it a difficult test to do?

3013d1b44fd7f65b4c8412f229d1d00e

on September 08, 2013
at 07:46 AM

The demineralized nature of most American soil is the primary reason we need to supplement in ways our ancestors didn't. See Dean's book, "The Magnesium Miracle" for more on the subject. Even many organic food producers don't feed the soil to boost the nutritional value of the food grown in it. (After all, "organic" food in the US is food lacking the presence of pesticides and similar chemicals; the presence of high nutrients isn't required.)

2
Eae21abfabb19c4617b2630386994fd9

on February 27, 2010
at 08:23 PM

one possibility you are missing: water. On Stephen's last magnesium post some people in the comments mentioned home-made MG water. There is also Apollinarus, Noah's (also know as Adobe Springs), and probably others that have a fair amount of Mg. This Mg advocacy site claims absortion rates of 50%: http://www.mgwater.com/benefits.shtml. Other studies demonstrate absorption.

There is also Magnesium 'oil', which is supposed to absorb very well.

1
Bf72f771a19f3a3789f7fdf24c86daef

on March 12, 2011
at 02:40 AM

This answer focuses on the dietary sources of magnesium.

I've had this concern for a while too, considering many magnesium sources are found in carb-abundant foods (ie 1 cup crude bran= 230% RDA). here's my answer= HEMP SEED.

check out the nutritional profile= http://nutiva.com/nutrition/charts/organic-shelled-hempseed/

for 180 calories, you get 13.5 g fat, 2g carb (1 g fiber), 11g protein, and Magnesium 48% RDA. you also get a nice boost of iron- 16%, Zinc- 23%, and not to mention that hemp is a balanced source of Omega 3-6 EFAs.

it's pricy, but if i'm lagging in magnesium/ iron, that's what i take. i see it as more of a supplement than anything

Other good sources of Magnesium include=

  1. Cocoa powder provides 499mg of magnesium (125% RDA) per 100 gram serving or 429mg (107% RDA) per cup. Dark baking chocolate provides 327mg per 100 gram serving (82% RDA), or 95mg (24% RDA) per square.

  2. Halibut has 182mg (46% RDA) per 6oz serving

  3. Avocado has 58mg (15% RDA) per avocado (201 grams)

  4. Spinach cooked has 79mg (19% RDA) per half cup (90 grams)

  5. Brazil nuts have 19mg (5% RDA) in a SINGLE kernel or nut. And 1 serving of nuts is 1 oz (6 brazil nuts) so that's 30% right there.

*Other nuts and seeds have appreciable amounts of magnesium, like sunflower seeds, sesame tahini, and almonds, but they're also loaded with PUFA, which some Paleos might want to watch. Flax seeds provide 392mg (92% RDA) per 100 gram serving or 39mg (10% RDA) per tablespoon, but whether the PUFA content is worth it is up to you. However, i might note that Flax has more Omega-3 than Omega-6, so you're not getting much Omega-6 anyway.

Other things that interfere with Magnesium absorption=

People with Gastrointestinal Disorders - Most magnesium is absorbed through the colon so people with gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn's disease are at high risk for a magnesium deficiency.
People with Poor Functioning Kidneys - The kidneys should be able to regulate magnesium in the blood, excreting less when stores are low, however, excessive loss of magnesium through urine can occur to people on specific medications, poorly managed diabetes, and alcoholics.
The Elderly - As we age the amount of magnesium we absorb decreases as the amount we excrete increases.
People Consuming high amounts of Fiber - Eating large amounts of fiber has been shown to interfere with the bodies ability to use magnesium. However, more research needs to be done to confirm how much fiber affects magnesium.30,31
People on a low protein diet (*Controversial) - Eating less than 30 grams of protein a day may adversely affect magnesium utilization
People taking Certain Medications
    Diuretics: Lasix, Bumex, Edecrin, and hydrochlorothiazide
    Antibiotics: Gentamicin, and Amphotericin
    Anti-neoplastic (Cancer) medication: Cisplatin
    Zinc Supplements

1
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 28, 2010
at 10:11 AM

I get my magnesium from having 1-2 cans of spinach per day, fresh spinach is too expensive. (I make it into a creamy soup, to make it relatively edible). Even so, I still only just exceed the RDA and no other foodstuffs come close for magnesium.

I've never been entirely convinced by the magnesium in drinking water argument. Looking at various naturally bottled spring/mineral waters, I've not seen any that contain appreciable amounts of magnesium (though it seems to vary substantially).

I can't help but notice though, that magnesium is one of the most prevalent minerals in seawater. Seaweeds are also very magnesium rich, so perhaps, like iodine, this is another case where our history as shoreline dwellers is important.

5cd18bfcafadc56292971e59f2f1faf6

(2475)

on February 28, 2010
at 05:20 PM

Spinach is a favorite of mine and my main dietary source of magnesium but, wow, two cans a day is a lot! I like the creamy soup idea though. Maybe a half-spinach/half-supplement approach would work well for me.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on March 15, 2011
at 08:25 PM

I'm interested in spinach to edible creamy soup conversion ?

3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on July 17, 2010
at 03:04 PM

Magnesium in sea water is apparently well absorbed from skin.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on March 15, 2011
at 10:03 PM

I just heat some spinach in a pan with some water (I've only used canned/frozen spinach), then puree with a hand blender and add some cream or butter. No need for anything else, but I often throw in seaweed as well, post-blending.

0
3013d1b44fd7f65b4c8412f229d1d00e

on September 08, 2013
at 07:49 AM

The RDA for most minerals is woefully inadequate for a large number of adults, BTW.

0
5dd50f78f47b8848d93724d6eb38d4c1

on September 06, 2013
at 08:19 AM

Oats, legumes, dark chocolate. Not paleo but they're all good

0
29c91774cfbe375065367332ecb2b25b

on September 06, 2013
at 02:13 AM

If you're taking magnesium orally, magnesium glycinate is the most absorbable. This is what I take. It also causes less diarrhea than all the others. Just to make sure I get enough magnesium I also make magnesium chloride lotion and slather it on after every shower. It feels magnificent and works great for insomnia, brain function, arthritis and a whole host of other maladies.

If you're not up to making magnesium chloride lotion or magnesium oil, you can order it already made at Amazon.com but it's a bit expensive that way. I make it cheap as a lotion and as an oil. I prefer the lotion because it goes on so smooth and soaks right in. Great stuff. It's really miraculous! I've made it for several people who swear by it. Magnesium, in my opinion, is the best thing for curing what ails ya!

736662d9fd6314d426cc6de1896aa045

(175)

on September 06, 2013
at 05:51 PM

Thanks for that. Quick google gave this "how to" post for magnesium oil + useful comments section: http://www.cheeseslave.com/how-to-make-magnesium-oil/

0
285b5c951f83ac056568ac302399cb60

on July 29, 2012
at 01:41 AM

Remember, magnesium-rich plant sources like spinach, kale, or swiss chard derive their magnesium from the soil. If the soil is depleted of magnesium- due to conventional farming practices (fertilizers, poor crop rotation, etc )then any food source grown there will be deficient as well.

Also, magnesium is a water soluble mineral- so cooking can leech the magnesium content right out of the food.

Be mindful of this when calculating magnesium consumption based solely from plant food.

Also, I find the RDA to be very deceiving. Magnesium fuels over 325 enzyme related functions in the body- from energy production to cell rejuvenation- so a person who is physically active (producing a lot of energy, say someone training for a marathon or ironman ) or lives/works in a high stress environment, will have a greater magnesium requirement than someone who isn't.

Providing the body with sufficient magnesium requires self-analysis and bit of research. It's a bit more complex than the commonly accepted RDA "one-size-fits-all" solution.

0
06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on March 12, 2011
at 02:57 AM

There is a posting at Nephropal by a patient, BillyE, of Dr Tourgeman. He uses Mg Oil in the form of Magnesium chloride in a spray bottle to use topically to absorb Mg. He says Mg taken orally is only absorbed 20% as opposed to the Mg Oil Spray which is absorbed much better.

http://nephropal.blogspot.com/2011/03/magnesium-stepchild-of-medicine.html

I am sure Dr Tourgeman screens BillyE's posting since the doctor owns the site and has brought BillyE along during his repair of chronic kidney disease, diabetes II, and obesity.

0
424563ee2575f0620ea221badabb40d7

(272)

on July 14, 2010
at 02:03 AM

one possible reason why we need so much Mg but don't get enough in food: the Aquatic Ape theory. As mentioned above, Mg can be absorbed through the skin. If the most ancient ancestors lived at the seashore, they could have gotten Mg transdermally every day.

If you've ever seen any swimming babies, that idea gets some creedence. The Russians seem to have pioneered that decades ago. Here's a newer rendition:

swim like tadpoles

AFAIK, when they get older, they seem to lose the innate ability.

Note that since most MG is intracellular, a serum Mg test supposedly won't tell much - unless you're critically low.

3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on July 17, 2010
at 03:08 PM

http://www.mattmetzgar.com/matt_metzgar/2010/06/paleo-spa-treatment.html Vitamin D supplementation also can lower Mag levels which makes sense -- we are making stronger and denser bones and muscles and infrastructures.

0
A3bb2c70384b0664a933b45739bac32c

on April 02, 2010
at 02:30 AM

I tried to take a 400mg supplement, but ended up with aches in my legs and back, a sign of overdose. How do you figure out how much to take? Could I take it every other day?

0
61f4f65bb54c2a34c37f94259be2a488

on March 01, 2010
at 10:39 PM

I think what is important here is Magnesium appears to be very safe to supplement with, and even some of the most conservative bloggers such as Dr Kurt Harris from PaleoNu have started supplementing (or replacement as he calls it).

Kurt G. Harris MD said... Very timely, I've been planning to post on Mg for some time. I am adding it to the arsenal as replacement in my dietary scheme. I take Mg citrate daily.

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