The Superpowers of Magnesium and How to Choose the Best Supplement to Take
Your magnesium levels affect how every cell in your body works. You’ll feel it if you’re low in magnesium — you may have low energy, a distractible brain, muscle cramps, and more.
Even when your diet is on point, you can come up short on micronutrients like magnesium. Modern farming practices deplete the soil, so vegetables don’t have the mineral content they did a few generations ago. In fact, in the US, most adults are deficient in magnesium.
In an episode of the Bulletproof Radio podcast, Matt Gallant, founder of BiOptimizers explains why they decided to develop a high-quality magnesium supplement.
Keep reading to learn why magnesium is crucial to feel like yourself, and to find out which best magnesium supplement will work best for you.
The function of magnesium in your body
Your body depends on magnesium for a lot of processes, like:
- Maintaining healthy DNA
- Controlling blood glucose
- Making proteins
- Helping your muscles work more efficiently (and not cramp up)
- Maintaining blood pressure
- Managing nerve cells
“We really see improvements on just about every part of the body, starting with even blood sugar. It helps move blood sugar into your muscles and dispose of lactate which can help build up during exercise and cause pain, so you can see an exercise performance on that component. We’ve seen improvements with athletes, the elderly. We’ve seen volleyball players be able to improve their jumping and arm movement. We’ve seen athletes who were cycling and swimming improve their performance. They also had reductions in insulin and stress response. Magnesium can help with fat loss. Again, it’s not a fat loss supplement, but it can really help,” says Gallant.
So, you find yourself ready to pick up a magnesium supplement. It’s not just a matter of choosing the best brand. There are different types of magnesium that do different things in your body. Here’s how to pick.
How to choose the best magnesium supplement
If you’re ready to add a magnesium supplement to your stack, first decide what your goal is. Do you want to increase energy? Sleep better? Think more clearly? Get rid of that twitch in your eyelid? Different magnesium supplements will act on different things. You might have some trial and error to find which magnesium supplement vibes with your biology. Luckily, magnesium is usually pretty cheap to buy.
Pro tip: every time you try a new magnesium type, brand, or dose, plan to take your first few doses when you’ll be home for the next few hours. Especially when you’re figuring out your dose, you could have some digestive discomfort and extra bathroom time.
These are the types of magnesium you’ll find in stores, and what they do in your body.
Magnesium threonate: cognition, memory, focus
Magnesium threonate readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, which means it absorbs quickly and acts fast.
Magnesium threonate is so powerful that it is served at 40 Years of Zen before brain training and meditation sessions as an extra brain boost.
Magnesium chloride to address overall magnesium deficiency
In stores, you’ll see magnesium chloride “oil” that comes in a spray bottle for your skin. Thing is, magnesium oil isn’t an oil at all – it feels oily because magnesium chloride is slightly more alkaline than water. You absorb a lot of magnesium through the skin using magnesium oil sprays.
Topical magnesium spray works well if you have digestive trouble, because you might not get as much nutrition out of your food. People who have trouble maintaining mineral balance also benefit from topical magnesium. You might experience these if you have conditions that affect your minerals like insufficient stomach acid or adrenal fatigue.
If you’re low, you may notice tingling or itching after you apply the spray. Think of it as your skin and blood vessels opening up to “grab” magnesium because your body really needs it. As your magnesium levels increase, you’ll no longer itch when you spray on magnesium oil. If the itching bothers you, you can rinse your skin as soon as it dries. Most of it will have absorbed by then.
Magnesium sulfate: detox, muscle pain
Magnesium sulfate might be the easiest form of magnesium to find. You can pick up a bag of epsom salt, which is pure magnesium sulfate, in almost every grocery store or pharmacy.
Soaking in a bath with epsom salt soothes sore muscles and pulls toxins out of your pores. You don’t absorb much magnesium, but you’ll get just enough to feel the calming effect.
If you want to elevate your experience, try a sensory deprivation float tank. the water in float tanks is saturated with magnesium sulfate so that you are buoyant, and you get extra relaxation effect when you combine magnesium with sensory deprivation.
Some people take magnesium sulfate internally, but it’s easy to take too much and end up in the bathroom for a while.
Magnesium malate: energy, muscles
If you’re looking to boost energy throughout the day, magnesium malate may help. The elemental magnesium is bound to malic acid, which helps your cells produce energy.
It calms overactive nerve cells, which may help with pain by relaxing tense muscles. Some fibromyalgia patients have experienced relief when taking magnesium malate.
Magnesium glycinate: sleep
Magnesium glycinate is a highly absorbable form of magnesium in a capsule and will raise your overall magnesium levels quickly. It is also one of the forms that is not likely to cause digestive trouble. With magnesium glycinate, magnesium is bound to glycine, an amino acid with a calming effect that improves your sleep quality.
Magnesium oxide to stay regular
If you’re not pooping every day, taking small doses of magnesium oxide a few times a day can help keep things moving while providing magnesium that your body needs anyway. On the flipside, you’re making enough (or too many) bathroom trips, it’s probably a good idea to pick a different form of magnesium.
One more time for emphasis: take small doses. This one is most likely to cause bathroom trouble, but for the same reasons, it’s super effective for constipation. Experiment at home.
Magnesium citrate: sleep and calm
Magnesium citrate has a calming effect, which makes it a great supplement to take at night. This is also the form to reach for if you want to address muscle cramps and twitches.
You absorb more magnesium from magnesium citrate than magnesium oxide, but you still risk going overboard and having bathroom trouble. Use a small dose at first, and work up until you find your ideal dose.
Some people experience anxiety or racing heart when starting magnesium. If that’s the case, stop taking it and make an appointment with a functional medicine doctor to test your mineral levels and get back into balance.
You may need to do some experimenting, but magnesium is inexpensive, so experimenting won’t break the bank. Soon, you’ll find the form that’s right for you.
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