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ABC’s of Magnesium from Sleep to Stress and Everything In Between

Magnesium from Sleep to Stress. Magnesium is well-known for building strong bones, relaxing our minds and muscles, and supporting bowel regulation.

However, the benefits go so far beyond that; magnesium has a role in over 300 biochemical processes in our body, as it is the 4th most abundant mineral in our body!

This is mostly in our bones and soft tissue. While it is so abundant and necessary for our health, over 65% of people are depleted in magnesium.

Many clinical studies show that the majority of hospital patients are not only low but depleted in magnesium, including those with arrhythmia and diabetes.

Those with adequate magnesium levels have a 17% lower risk of developing metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. It is also an essential mineral to regulate blood pressure.

Magnesium has also been shown to regulate brain receptors, supporting cognitive health.

It is essentially found in every tissue within our body but we are chronically low as a society because magnesium is easily depleted by stress, excessive sweating, medications, and diarrhea.

Magnesium is often very low in those with hormonal imbalances (adrenal fatigue and thyroid disorder), those on medications that block absorption, and in those with poor digestion.

Magnesium And Food 

Food can also have a huge impact on our magnesium stores. Food and drinks, such as coffee, sugar, alcohol, foods containing phytic acid (like grains) and diuretics, can also easily affect our magnesium levels.

When we have enough magnesium, it can be the most powerful relaxation mineral.

Symptoms Of Magnesium Deficiency Include:

  • Muscle twitches or cramps
  • Headaches and/or migraines
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • Constipation
  • Brain fog
  • Low bone mineral density
  • Low thyroid
  • High blood pressure

The daily magnesium recommendation for females is 310mg and for males 400mg but people are often so low that they need double to catch up and refill their mineral stores.

It is estimated that 15 to 20% of Americans are depleted in magnesium. The majority of us get somewhere around 250mg to 350mg a day from our diet.

Foods such as leafy greens (1 cup of spinach includes 157 mg of magnesium), avocado, banana, kiwi, broccoli, potatoes, and almonds are all naturally abundant in magnesium. There is 95 mg of magnesium in just one square of dark chocolate!

Magnesium And Your Adrenals

Magnesium is one of the most supportive minerals to take during times of increased stress because stress is so depleting to our mineral stores. Magnesium deficiency can certainly play a role in anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation; studies show taking magnesium improves sleep and promotes relaxation as well.

However, there is a caveat to this, as too much magnesium (or the wrong form like citrate) can actually make adrenal fatigue worse.

This is mainly due to its potential effects on blood pressure as well as depleting other minerals, namely electrolytes needed for proper adrenal function.

The Connection Between Adrenals and Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure can be common in those with adrenal fatigue and imbalanced hormones.

This usually leaves us feeling weak and lethargic despite eating and sleeping. If we are already in a depleted state, adding too much magnesium can actually lower blood pressure even further.

Supporting ourselves with other minerals, including sodium and potassium in order to best support the thyroid and adrenals are important. We love coconut water as a source of these electrolytes, as well as GOODONYA Hydrate.

Mineral Depletion

It is important to balance all of the minerals in the body, so taking a high dose of magnesium can throw this balance off.

This is especially true when taking certain kinds of magnesium, such as citrate, which acts as a laxative if taken at too high a dose.

When this happens and we experience loose stools, we are also excreting these essential minerals and electrolytes.

By adding a mineral formula, we can ensure that we are balancing electrolytes and minerals to balance everything else.

Another great idea is adding a pinch of high-quality sea salt to your meals or even your water in the morning. This can provide the necessary minerals to your cells and tissues. Iodized salt or table salt should be avoided, as it is stripped of its natural minerals.

Different Forms Of Magnesium

There are many different types or forms of magnesium which can make it confusing when deciding to take a magnesium supplement.

In order to form a salt, the cation (which is an ion that has a positive charge) needs to pair with a negative charge. Each different form of magnesium is paired with a different negative charge, which is listed in the names of the different forms.

Magnesium Malate

Magnesium malate is a common dietary supplement that combines magnesium and malic acid. It may be linked to several health benefits, including improvements in mood, blood sugar control, exercise performance, and chronic pain.Stool Softener: Magnesium draws water into the intestines, working as an osmotic laxative. This increase in water stimulates bowel motility. It also softens and increases the size of the stool, triggering a bowel movement and helping to make stools easier to pass.Magnesium plays a role in supporting deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep. Research indicates supplemental magnesium can improve sleep quality, especially in people with poor sleep. (My favorite, and super inexpensive but PACKED with science, hands down is MAG SRT by Jigsaw Health)

Magnesium Sulfate:

Commonly known as Epsom salts, magnesium sulfate is great for detoxification and makes a great relaxation bath. When taken orally, it can have an almost instant diarrhea effect so do not do that.

Try magnesium salts in a bath using 1/2 cup to 1 cup with 5 drops of lavender.  This will not only promote relaxation but also open up detoxification pathways.

Alternatively, transdermal magnesium can be applied topically and provide immediate muscle release and relaxation (we love the Ancient Minerals brand). If you don’t have the time or inclination to take a bath, you can use the magnesium oil on your feet before bed and then put socks on.

Magnesium Citrate: 

Magnesium citrate is an affordable form of magnesium, which is used mostly for constipation. Magnesium oxide is also used for constipation but we prefer citrate over oxide for short-term constipation relief.

It is not recommended to use magnesium citrate long-term, as our body can become dependent on it. If taken too long, this form of magnesium can deplete B vitamins as well as sodium and potassium, exacerbating adrenal insufficiency.

Taking 300 to 500 mg of Magnesium Citrate before bed can be used as a temporary short-term solution for the relief of constipation.

Magnesium Glycinate:

This is the go-to form for relaxation and sleep support. Magnesium glycinate is where the molecule is attached to the amino acid glycine. This form of magnesium is highly absorbable and the effects can be felt very quickly. This form has been shown to improve sleep quality and duration when taken before bed. We love taking 150 to 300 mg of Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate before bed.

Magnesium L-threonate:

This is another one of our favorite types of magnesium, it is the most absorbable and research shows that it can cross the blood-brain barrier. It has been shown to support cognitive health as well as anxiety and depression.

We know that magnesium is essentially required for the activation of nerve channels in the brain.

These nerve channels are required for synaptic plasticity, which is a biological process that contributes to learning and memory.

Because threonate can cross the blood-brain barrier, it is able to permeate the brain and support these receptors more than any other form of magnesium.


Magnesium stearate

is a salt that forms when stearate molecules bond with a magnesium ion. Stearate comes from stearic acid, a long-chain saturated fat found in:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • ‌‌Cocoa butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Eggs
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Palm oil
  • ‌Salmon

Experts say stearic acid is the only long-chain saturated fat that does not raise cholesterol levels.

In the form of a powder, the salt forms the coating that you see on medications and vitamins.  Magnesium stearate may stick to your hands and feel greasy when you touch it. Makers of many processed foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals also add magnesium stearate to their products.

What Is the Purpose of Magnesium Stearate?

Medications. Companies call magnesium stearate a “flow agent.” Its main job is to keep the ingredients in a capsule from sticking together. It also forms a barrier between the medicines and the machines that make them. The powder improves the consistency and quality of the medication capsules.

Another function of the powder is to slow the absorption and breakdown of drugs. This way, your body absorbs them in the correct area of your bowel. Without magnesium stearate, it would be hard to predict a medication’s outcome, quality, and consistency.

Cosmetics. In the cosmetic world, magnesium stearate is a helpful ingredient for many things. It acts as a bulking agent, an anti-caking agent, a colorant, and more. Here, it is a low-hazard product, but data on this is limited.

The Health Effects of Magnesium Stearate

Magnesium stearate is generally safe to consume, but too much of it can have a laxative effect. In large amounts, it can irritate the mucus lining of the bowels. This may trigger a bowel movement or diarrhea.

Immune function. The powder may weaken your immune T-cell function. Studies on this effect are still in the early stages.

Pesticide concerns. Stearate sometimes comes from cottonseed oil. Some people worry that it may have pesticides that can be dangerous when consumed. Magnesium stearate goes through an intense purification process before being used in medications.

Another concern is that cottonseed oil is genetically modified. However, the chemical structure of stearic acid remains the same regardless of its source.

Nutrients and drug absorption. There is some concern that magnesium stearate might keep the body from absorbing nutrients the way it should. One study found that tablets with magnesium stearate take longer to dissolve than those without.

Other research found that how long magnesium stearate takes to dissolve has no effect on a drug’s effectiveness. It also doesn’t change the dissolution of the tablet or the potency of the supplement or drug. Magnesium from Sleep to Stress

Biofilms. There are also concerns that magnesium stearate can cause the formation of harmful biofilms in the digestive system. Biofilms happen when groups of bacteria form a protective barrier. These claims come from the fact that soap has magnesium stearate and makes a scum film. But your intestinal lining is different from your bathroom walls or doors and won’t have the same scum film.

Allergens. Allergic reactions to magnesium stearate are rare, but you should avoid it and talk to your doctor if it affects you. Magnesium from Sleep to Stress

How Much Magnesium Stearate Is Safe to Consume?

The FDA has approved magnesium stearate as a safe product and allows its use as an additive in foods and supplements.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) also says it is safe for use in small quantities. It recommends fewer than 2,500 milligrams (mg) per kilogram daily. This equals about 170,000 mg for a 150-pound adult, much more than what you’d take in supplements.

There you have it—the ABCs of magnesium.

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