People often ask us how to increase or raise magnesium levels quickly. This is a common question when you realize the symptoms of low magnesium. 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 those levels up, so you have enough magnesium to meet your daily needs. 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).If you think you need more of this essential mineral, let’s talk about how to raise magnesium levels quickly.
Embrace the Power of Plant FoodsIf you’re eating a standard North American diet, you may not be getting enough magnesium because typical diets don’t deliver enough of the plant foods that are high in magnesium. 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. Magnesium in foods is often highly absorbable, so it’s a great way to raise magnesium levels quickly.
Know Where It’s GrownWhile it’s always a good idea to privilege plants, not all plant sources are equally high in magnesium. Some plant foods with increase your magnesium levels faster. High-quality organic produce can have 3x higher mineral and vitamin content than standard grocery store produce, although it does depend on how the organic crops are grown. 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. High-magnesium greens are simple to grow. You can learn how by taking this free course we created through Thrive for Good, the charity we started to help end extreme poverty.
Choose Raw More OftenProcessing, whether heating or milling, strips foods of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. Whenever possible, eat high-magnesium foods in their natural state. It’s a better way to increase your magnesium levels for sure. You don’t need to go completely raw! In fact, there are some benefits to lightly cooking certain foods, including spinach. The key is to lightly cook, but be careful not to boil these magnesium-rich foods because magnesium is water-soluble, so it will leach out into the water. The key is to choose mostly unprocessed foods and some raw foods every day to raise magnesium levels quickly (and keep those levels high).
Pay Attention to pHStudies 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. When this happens, it’s much harder to increase your magnesium levels, even if you’re eating a lot of magnesium-rich foods as well. Sugar, meat, eggs, dairy and salty foods are such 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.
Get Out the ToxinsIt’s challenging to raise magnesium levels quickly when our body’s stores are being used up even more rapidly. 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 it 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.
Ditch DiureticsCaffeine, alcohol, and diuretic drugs may be undermining your magnesium levels. Diuretics cause water loss and with it, magnesium loss. Much like boiling spinach, diuretics leech the body of water-soluble nutrients, like magnesium. 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 your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and (if possible) any diuretic medications you may be taking. When you do, you’ll find it’s much easier to raise magnesium levels quickly.
Stress LessStress overstimulates the nervous system. Under conditions of stress, magnesium slows the nervous impulse, shuts down adrenaline responses, and relaxes muscles. Magnesium helps you to keep calm. However, it can only do so when you have enough magnesium circulating in your bloodstream… And 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.” – Dr. Carolyn Dean, The Magnesium Miracle, p. 50 – 51So, 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. When you do, you’ll finally be able to increase your magnesium levels and enjoy the health benefits.
Reconsider CalciumInterestingly, you may need to decrease your calcium intake to raise magnesium levels quickly. The fact is that most people get too much calcium and not enough magnesium. Even if you don’t eat dairy, you’ll find that 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, 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.
Be Anti-AntacidsStomach acid is very important for the absorption of magnesium. If you want to increase your magnesium levels, you will need to make sure you have enough stomach acid to absorb this mineral. Some research suggests that magnesium citrate helps compensate for low stomach acid, and we know that magnesium citrate does absorb well in lower-acid environments. 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. When you do, you’ll have greater success in your attempts to raise magnesium levels quickly.
Go With Your GutAfter 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 nutrient absorption and increase your magnesium levels. If you have or suspect these issues with your gut, look for a Naturopath that specializes in digestive health.