How To Increase Magnesium Levels
Magnesium deficiency can show up as stress, insomnia, fatigue, tension and pain. Constipation and poor digestion are other common signs.
Chronic deficiency can even trigger or exacerbate serious health conditions, including low bone density and several cardiac issues.
So, it’s important to get enough! But how much is enough?
For adults in Canada and the US, the recommended intake of magnesium is between 310 and 400 mg per day.
Some experts, including Dr. Carolyn Dean, argue that more is really needed.
“300 mg of magnesium is required merely to offset the daily losses. If you are under mild to moderate stress caused by a physical or psychological disease, physical injury, athletic exertion, or emotional upheaval, your requirements for magnesium escalate.” (The Magnesium Miracle, p. 216).
So, how to increase magnesium level?
We’ve compiled 10 tips that will get you on the path to magnesium sufficiency!
1. Embrace the Power of Plant Foods
According to Dr. Dean, an “average good diet may supply about 120 mg of magnesium per 1,000 calories, for an estimated daily intake of about 250 mg.” (p. 216)
The more you privilege plant foods, the better, because greens, nuts, seeds and beans are the best sources of magnesium.
For example, you can get 300 mg of magnesium through a combination of 20 raw almonds, four cups of raw spinach, and one cup of beans. Read our post on magnesium and diet for more info.
2. Know Where It’s Grown
While it’s always a good idea to privilege plants, not all plant sources are equal.
The vitamin and mineral content of high-quality organic produce can be as much as 3x higher than standard produce.
That’s because modern industrial farming practices have depleted magnesium from the soils, and even good sources are no longer as naturally rich as they once were. Bones recovered from the 19th century have been discovered to have twice the magnesium levels found in present-day skeletons.
How can you get produce that’s higher in magnesium?
Consider joining a Community Shared Agriculture program with reputable, local organic farmers. Or, grow your own in the summer, and use what you save to buy organic in the winter.
3. Choose Raw More Often
Processing, whether heating or milling, strips foods of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.
Whenever possible, eat high-magnesium foods in their natural state.
You don’t need to go completely raw! In fact, there are some benefits to lightly cooking certain foods, including spinach. If you choose mostly unprocessed foods and some raw foods every day, you’re on the right path.
4. Pay Attention to pH
Studies show that sugar, meat, eggs, dairy, salt and carbonated drinks change the natural pH balance of the blood. These foods are considered “acidic” because they increase the acidity of the blood.
In response, the body draws on stores of alkaline magnesium to restore healthy blood pH levels.
Given these foods are a huge part of the modern diet, it’s no wonder so many people have symptoms of magnesium deficiency! If you’re eating a lot of acidic foods, your body needs much more magnesium.
5. Get Out the Toxins
Toxins are absorbed every day from the air we breathe, our water supply, foods, prescriptions and of course, what we put on our skin.
Magnesium plays an essential role in cleansing the body of pollutants.
“One of the most important neuroprotectants known, magnesium helps defend our cells against potential neurotoxins in our environment, such as pesticides, herbicides, food additives, solvents and cleaning products.” (Dean, The Magnesium Miracle, p. 63)
It’s impossible to eliminate toxins from our lives. But keep toxin-avoidance in mind as you shop for food, personal care and cleaning products.
And if you know your toxin exposure is high, make magnesium a daily priority.
6. Ditch Diuretics
Caffeine, alcohol and diuretic drugs may be undermining your magnesium levels. Much like boiling spinach, diuretics leech the body of water-soluble nutrients, like magnesium, by causing water loss.
The same is true of excessive sweating. If you use a sauna, exercise heavily or have hyperhidrosis, you’re sweating out magnesium.
We’re not about to recommend you cut exercise or saunas! But it wouldn’t hurt to limit caffeine, alcohol and investigate natural alternatives to any diuretic drugs you may be taking.
7. Stress Less
Stress overstimulates the nervous system. Magnesium – when it’s available in adequate supply – slows the nervous impulse, shuts down adrenaline responses and relaxes muscles.
But battling constant stress depletes magnesium levels fast.
“Chronic stress can come from feeling insecure and threatened, or from exposure to toxic chemicals, heavy metals, or even loud noise, all of which assault the nervous system and overwork the immune system. For example, constant loud noise in an industrial work setting induced a significant increase of serum magnesium (as magnesium was released from tissues) and significantly increased urinary excretion of magnesium, indicating a magnesium deficiency, which lasted for forty-eight hours after exposure.” (Dean, The Magnesium Miracle, p. 50 – 51)
So, everyday physical, environmental and psychological stress can deplete our body’s magnesium stores. Major stressors, like surgery, disease and pregnancy can even more dramatically increase the body’s magnesium requirements.
It’s unrealistic to say, “just be less stressed,” in a world that’s stressful. But it really is important to cut out the stressors and increase your magnesium intake.
8. Reconsider Calcium
Most people get too much calcium and not enough magnesium.
In part, we can thank the dairy marketing boards for that. But many processed foods are also fortified with calcium, and calcium is overrepresented in supplements. The next time you look at an adult or kids’ multivitamin, scan for the calcium and magnesium levels. You’ll notice that in most cases, the calcium content is way higher than the magnesium!
Our heart, brain and muscles need a ratio of 2:1 magnesium to calcium in our cells, to properly function. Our bones need the reverse ratio, but overall, a balanced 1:1 ratio of calcium and magnesium is best.
To keep that balance, most people should either cut back on calcium or increase magnesium.
9. Be Anti-Antacids
Stomach acid is very important for the absorption of magnesium.
But if you are taking antacids, you’re making it harder to absorb magnesium
“By neutralizing normal stomach acids, antacids make it impossible for us to absorb minerals or digest our food properly.” (Dean, The Magnesium Miracle, p. 31)
According to Dr. Dean, heartburn and digestion are incorrectly blamed on too much stomach acid. Instead, we have a bad diet to thank for heartburn and indigestion. Instead of opting for an antacid, try to remove sugary, greasy and processed foods from your diet.
10. Go With Your Gut
After passing through the stomach, magnesium is absorbed through the small intestine into the bloodstream. How much you absorb may depend on the health of your intestines.
“Whether the intestines are healthy or diseased is probably the most important factor in magnesium absorption.” (Dean, The Magnesium Miracle, p. 33)
According to Dr. Dean, one of the biggest concerns is leaky gut.
With leaky gut, “(y)east toxins, inflammatory substances…and undigested food molecules all form barriers to the absorption of dietary and supplemental nutrients, including magnesium.” (Dean, The Magnesium Miracle, p. 33)
IBS, yeast overgrowth and food allergies must be addressed, according to Dean, to deal with poor magnesium absorption.
If you have or suspect these issues with your gut, look for a Naturopath who specializes in digestive health.
A Better Magnesium
If you can check off these 10 things on how to increase magnesium levels, your magnesium levels may be healthy. But we’re the first to admit that it’s a challenge. That’s why having a highly absorbable magnesium supplement is so important.
Natural Calm magnesium is a powdered form that becomes ionic magnesium when dissolved in hot water. Research proves that magnesium citrate is one of the most absorbable forms you can take orally.
And it helps that Natural Calm tastes great, so you’re more likely to take it every day (which, by the way, is recommended).
Transdermal magnesium therapy is also very effective. Anyone with digestive problems may get better results by using a topical magnesium. We offer transdermal magnesium liquid, gel and spray through our online store and retailers across Canada.
Give us a shout if you have any questions at all!
Adapted with permission from Calmful Living by Natural Vitality, the US makers of Natural Calm.
Do you know electrolytes are important, (even if you don’t fully understand why) but feel hesitant to consume the artificial drinks famous for replenishing them? Would you love to know how to get electrolytes naturally?
You’re onto something.
It’s true: electrolytes matter. They regulate muscle and nerve function, hydration, blood pressure and your body’s pH levels. Deficiencies or imbalances in electrolytes—which include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, hydrogen phosphate, bicarbonate and chloride—can cause everything from fatigue and muscle cramping to irregular heartbeat and seizures. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes; so it’s important to replace them.
Fortunately, there are ways to get the electrolytes you need without resorting to these processed products.
Read on to find out more about the importance of maintaining a healthy electrolyte balance in your body, and how to boost electrolytes without consuming unnecessary levels of sugar and artificial ingredients.
The Importance of Water
Did you know that when you’re born, your body is made up of between 75 and 80% water? This gradually decreases as you age, with an adult’s body made up of 55 to 60% water. The “water” we’re referring to is more properly described as “fluid”, which contains a number of essential elements including glucose, proteins, cells, and – vitally – electrolytes. Electrolytes themselves come in a variety of types, including chloride, calcium, potassium, and sodium – with each performing an essential role in your body’s day-to-day functioning.
- Chloride aids in healthy digestion and maintains the right pH levels in your body.
- Calcium contributes to the essential blood clotting processes and is essential for healthy teeth and bones.
- Potassium aids in regulating heart function and blood pressure, allows for muscle contractions, and transmits nerve impulses.
- Sodium is essential for nerve and muscle function and helps regulate blood pressure.
The Problem of Electrolyte Imbalance
While fluctuating electrolyte levels are normal, a significant imbalance in electrolyte levels – caused by not enough or too many minerals in your body – can cause some worrying health problems. Studies have shown that electrolyte imbalance can cause labored or difficult breathing, while other symptoms of unhealthy electrolyte levels include fluid retention, nausea, chest pain, seizures, muscle weakness, and confusion.
Natural Electrolyte Boosters
Luckily, replenishing your body’s stores of electrolytes doesn’t have to involve drinking sugary sports drinks. If you’re wondering how to replenish electrolytes, here are 5 natural electrolyte boosters:
Sodium is one of the electrolytes that we’re quickest to lose through sweat. Luckily, ingesting salt is a quick and easy way to replace what we lose. Salt also contains the electrolytes magnesium, calcium and potassium; so it’s good for more than just sodium replenishment. Go for sea salt over table salt because it’s less processed. Himalayan and Celtic sea salts are widely available in most grocery stores. If you’re wondering how to get electrolytes into your system with sea salt, the answer is surprisingly simple: Just put a pinch in your water and drink. It’s that easy.
Packed with nutrients and low in sugar, coconut water is a great way to rehydrate and replenish electrolytes, especially potassium. There are a lot of coconut waters on the market. Look for one with minimal ingredients, especially anything that looks artificial. Harmless Harvest uses only organic coconuts and is never cooked or boiled. Their minimal processing causes some of their coconut waters to turn pink when the antioxidants are exposed to light—it’s still totally safe to drink. If you have access to it, completely unprocessed coconut water, directly from the coconut, is always best!
Magnesium is one of the most important electrolytes to keep replenished since being magnesium deficient can cause insomnia, anxiety, muscle cramping, constipation and other problems. Natural Calm is a drinkable magnesium supplement that contains highly absorbable, water-soluble magnesium and is considered by many to be the best way to get electrolytes. Drinking a glass every night before bed is a great way to keep your magnesium levels on track. You can up the dose in hot weather or if you’re exercising a lot. If you’re on-the-go, Natural Calm Gummies are a quick, tasty way to get this essential electrolyte. This is one of the ways on how to increase magnesium levels.
Lemons are the queen of citrus when it comes to electrolytes. They’re a good source of potassium, calcium and magnesium. Add that to their ability to detoxify the liver, balance pH levels and boost the immune system with vitamin C, and lemons are officially a solid addition to any drink. If you’re not sure how to add electrolytes to water, simply squeeze a whole lemon into warm or cold water for a sour jolt of electrolytes.
No list is complete without a reminder to eat more green vegetables—and electrolyte replenishment is no exception! Leafy greens such as kale, swiss chard, beet greens, bok choy and spinach are packed with electrolytes. They are especially rich in magnesium, calcium and potassium. Celery, broccoli and avocado are good sources as well. You can add an electrolyte punch to any meal by tossing in something green.
The Bottom Line:
The importance of maintaining proper fluid and electrolyte levels at all times – but especially when participating in strenuous or long-lasting exercise – cannot be understated. If you’ve ever been wary of consuming sugary sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade, you’re not alone. While these sports drinks can indeed help keep you hydrated while working out, the additional burst of sugar and other artificial ingredients make these products a less-than-healthy choice. Instead, opt for one of the five natural electrolytes detailed above, and enjoy all the benefits of proper hydration without any of the downsides associated with sugary sports drinks. Follow the above steps on how to increase magnesium levels.