The magnitude of magnesium’s importance in the human body cannot be understated. This master mineral is the fourth most abundant element in the human body and is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium gets depleted when exercising, under stress, or during illness. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to inadequate magnesium levels.
Magnesium is also pivotal in triggering the relaxation pathways in the body. One reason for this is that magnesium aids in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) production, the neurotransmitter that soothes the nervous system and promotes sleep. Thus, a lack of magnesium can lead to sleep problems. Balance is vital as overconsumption of magnesium can also be detrimental to health.
Which Form of Magnesium is Best for Sleep & Anxiety?
Magnesium must be delivered in a bioavailable form that’s easy for the body to absorb. Certain forms of magnesium are best suited for sleep and anxiety, while others are more helpful for headaches or constipation. The main forms of magnesium are outlined below.
- Magnesium glycinate/glycerophosphate - best for sleep and anxiety. Magnesium glycerophosphate is ideal for stress relief and sleep. Glycerophosphate has the lowest rate of diarrhea, as compared to other forms of magnesium.
- Magnesium citrate/ sulfate - helpful for constipation, and is commonly administered as a saline laxative before surgery.
- Magnesium malate - highly absorbable form; helpful with headaches, heartburn, depression, and upset stomach.
The Function of Magnesium, ATP & Aluminum
Hypomagnesemia (magnesium deficiency) is rampant in the US, and is often overlooked and undiagnosed. One study found that up to 75% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. Symptoms associated with low magnesium often don’t occur until magnesium levels reach a critical level. Magnesium is needed for healthy nerves, heart, muscles, and bones. Chronic physical or mental stress depletes the body of magnesium, in turn intensifying the stress response.
Magnesium is closely linked to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary carrier of energy in cells, and, thus, plays an important role in energy production. Excess aluminum (Al) consumption can diminish the amount of magnesium in the body. Additionally, Al can shift the formation of ATP to adenosine monophosphate (AMP) and adenosine diphosphate (ADP), which are less energy-dense forms of adenosine, thereby reducing energy levels as the phosphates are reduced in AMP and ADP to be used by other cells.
6 Signs Associated with Low Magnesium
It’s important to recognize signs of low magnesium so proper steps can be taken to boost magnesium intake. Symptoms may include:
Individuals suffering from asthma are often deficient in magnesium. Asthma is worse when magnesium levels are low because of a buildup of calcium in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.
2. Heart Arrhythmia or Irregular Heartbeat
A magnesium deficiency can cause a potassium imbalance, inducing an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).
3. Muscle Cramps, Twitches & Tremors
It is believed that muscle cramps, twitches and tremors are caused by excess calcium in nerve cells from a magnesium deficiency, resulting in overexcited tissue.
4. High Blood Pressure & Heart Disease
Magnesium helps relax blood vessels, thus, low levels of magnesium may contribute to increased blood pressure.
5. Mental Health Disorders
Anxiety and depression have been attributed in part to a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium helps relay information between the body and the brain; depleted stores of magnesium may lead to nerve or brain damage.
While osteoporosis is normally attributed to aging or a lack of vitamin D and/or calcium, animal studies have found that a magnesium deficiency can reduce bone mass.
9 Foods High in Magnesium
Magnesium is found in a wide variety of whole foods. As such it’s often not consumed by those eating a high quantity of processed foods. Additionally, modern industrial farming depletes the soil of many essential minerals such as magnesium. Some good sources of magnesium include:
- Dark chocolate
- Whole grains
- Leafy greens
The Bottom Line
Magnesium glycerophosphate is the ideal form of magnesium to help boost sleep quality. It helps the body and brain relax by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Magnesium also help boost the sleep hormone melatonin, which in turn binds to GABA (the neurotransmitter responsible for calming the nervous system). It can be difficult to obtain adequate amounts of magnesium through diet alone, therefore supplementation may be highly beneficial for many individuals.
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