Magnesium: The Miracle Mineral
Many researchers call magnesium ‘the anti-aging mineral’. The body uses this mineral to rest, recover from stress, produce energy, detox, make new cells and strengthen bones.
Magnesium provides more shock absorbing capacity for bones because it has a strong affinity with water, helping it enter cells. With magnesium present, cells hydrate better and can detoxify more efficiently.
What is it?
Magnesium is arguably the most important mineral electrolyte in the body. This is because of its central role in the making of our cellular energy batteries – adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – by mitochondria. It has also been found in studies to be a superior natural calcium channel blocker without negative side effects.
Magnesium controls the use of calcium in the body via the guarding of these calcium channels in the cell membrane. When we need to squeeze and use muscles, magnesium comes out of the channels and calcium moves in (as calcium exerts an attractive force).
When we need to relax again, magnesium moves back into the channels and kicks out the calcium. The calcium then goes back to the extracellular spaces. With this ebb and flow our muscles contract and relax, contract and relax. If our levels get too low, we can get stuck in the contraction mode.
You will notice that sites of injury or inflammation in the body tend to attract more calcium deposits. This makes us harder and crunchier over time. It can manifest as bone spurs, stiff ligaments and joints, kidney stones and even hardened arterial linings, which increase blood pressure.
Magnesium helps electrical and nervous system conductance in the body. It also helps manage the fluidity of our blood circulation and lymph system, in conjunction with sulphur compounds that depend on magnesium like glutathione. Magnesium and water go hand in hand to help to keep us younger, more flexible and ‘juicier’ longer!
The recommended daily magnesium minimum is generally around 300-400mg. However, there is a large number of people who would need more based on health and lifestyle factors.
For example, you would need the minimum if you’re young and don’t suffer from much stress or excessive physical exertion. If you have a balanced diet of fresh foods, then 300mg or 400mg of daily magnesium would be sufficient.
You may need up to 1,000mg per day if you exercise intensely or have high levels of stress. This is you if you’re a shift worker and suffer from sleep deprivation! It’s pretty hard to get high amounts of magnesium out of diet alone, as the content in foods has dropped significantly over the last 50 years.
Everyone’s needs are different, and personal needs could fluctuate daily. For example, on days of intense physical exercise or being outside in the sun and perspiring, you will have lost excessive amounts of electrolytes in sweat and will require more magnesium.
Pregnancy requires a much higher amount of magnesium for the growth of a new body. People with digestive disorders can’t digest and absorb enough nutrients from foods. and there are those who have suffered trauma and injury, which severely depletes the body of this vital mineral.
If you are on drugs or medications, smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol excessively, your body will experience a loss or blockage of magnesium.
Following a healthy and balanced diet will allow your body to absorb the magnesium easier, as well as drinking plenty of filtered water with added magnesium for good hydration. Magnesium makes water work better, so that more gets access to cells rather than going straight through the digestive system too quickly. It tastes great too!
Levels in the body
Blood tests are not accurate indicators of how much magnesium is stored in the body because 99% is stored in muscle and bone. These tissue cells can sacrifice their stored magnesium in order to keep blood levels normal. By the time we show up with low levels in blood tests, it indicates much more severe depletion in the rest of the body, and consequently worsening health. Ideally, we don’t want it to get that bad.
The better indicator of magnesium deficiency at sub-clinical levels are symptoms such as cramps and restless legs, stress sensitivity, sleep problems, chronic fatigue, foggy brain, heart arrhythmia, hypertension, inflamed joints, kidney or liver problems, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
As we age, our levels drop lower and lower and it becomes very difficult to get enough via digestion alone. There is less stomach acid production with ageing, and it becomes more difficult to break down dense proteins that would contain magnesium, such as nuts, seeds and meats.
The bowel can also become clogged and compromised with layers of waste on the gut lining. This doesn’t allow magnesium to readily pass through. Even in a healthy gut, it will only efficiently pass through the gut wall at low concentrations – such as what would be in natural spring water.
Absorbing magnesium through the skin allows the body to drink up what it needs for replenishment – and in greater amounts as required.
When dry-applying magnesium to the skin, we don’t have the loosening or opening effect of skin cells via hot water, so the efficiency of absorption depends largely on the availability of lipids in the skin. The skin is lipophilic. In other words, it loves fats. When we are young, we produce a lot of fats in the skin.
As we get older our circulation is less efficient to the extremities and we have less fats in the skin. This causing dryness because less water is able to be captured inside the skin layer.
When applying pure magnesium oil directly to skin, it doesn’t have ready access to the inside of the epidermis unless we have enough lipids to help absorb it. For most people this oil lingers on the skin surface and feels sticky or irritating. This is because it is a water-based salt solution.
So, what can we use?
Foot soaking or bathing using magnesium chloride flakes is very relaxing and reviving and works fast to relax muscles and joints compared to oral tablets and powders. It also helps to promote deeper and better-quality sleep. The hot water allows the skin to soften allowing magnesium ions to easily pass through into the epidermal layer.
When using creams, charge lotion or oil spritz, the presence of rich plant butters and oils assists the transit of the magnesium salts through the skin into the epidermis without sticky or irritating residue left behind. Within a few minutes of rubbing it in, the skin has soaked it up.
Use as much natural magnesium as you like through transdermal application as the body. The body absorbs from the epidermis only what it needs. Using skin care that contains rich plant butters and oils infused with magnesium allows the skin reservoir to serve it to the body over a number of hours after application. In addition to relaxing muscles and loosening up stiff joints, it is also very rejuvenating and soothing for skin.
This article was written by Sandy Sanderson from Elektra Magnesium and edited by MBS. Head to their exhibitor listing to get early access to their exclusive specials before Sydney’s MindBodySpirit Festival this March!