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Why You Should Be Using A Magnesium Supplement [E042]

If you were stuck on an island and there was only one supplement you could take with you, what would it be? For Dr. Olivia Joseph it’s Magnesium supplement! In this episode, we discuss why magnesium is the most under-discussed but is the most important supplement to take. Also, understanding why a multivitamin with magnesium may not be enough and how to learn if you have a deficiency.

Table Of Contents

An Introduction to Magnesium Supplement

An Introduction to  Magnesium Supplement
Photographer: Daily Nouri | Source: Unsplash

Dr. Brian J.: All right, we’re back in the studio. This is the Wellness Connection show. I’m Dr. Brian Joseph, your host as usual and I am with my wife again, Dr. Olivia Joseph, welcome.

Dr. Olivia J.: Thank you for having me. We spend a lot of time together.

Dr. Brian J.: Yeah we do and we do have conversations that are outside of health and wellness, just so you know. So this is not the only topic that we talk about at home. Right?

Dr. Olivia J.: Right, but most of them.

Dr. Brian J.: We’ve had this debate, this great debate, if you will, over the period of years. Like if you were on an island and you could only pick one supplement that you would actually take with you, that in your opinion, has the most value. Actually has the opportunity to help the body in the most ways that you know, what are you taking? And the answer ends up being?

Dr. Olivia J.: For me, magnesium.

Dr. Brian J.: Yeah. So, and then there are so many people that talk about the magnesium miracle, which means like it’s almost the superfood or the super fruit or there’s something about this magnesium supplement that’s under-discussed but yet has an opportunity to help with so many different systems of the body.

So today’s topic, we’re going to basically just spend a little time just sharing why on that deserted island, if we had to pick one supplement, why it may be magnesium and then what it really benefits the body and the many different ways that benefits the body and then go from there.

Why would you take magnesium?

Dr. Brian J.: Well first of all, why in the world would you take magnesium? It’s a funny answer. I think a lot of people would expect something other than that. So why would you choose to take magnesium with you if you were only able to take one supplement on that island?

Dr. Olivia J.: Because magnesium affects so many different systems of the body and benefits so many systems of the body. The reality of it is magnesium supplement is a mineral, it’s a big molecule, so you’re not going to get enough in a multivitamin. Big, huge myth. Well, my multivitamin has a little magnesium, well not much because it’s a big molecule, can’t fit that in a multivitamin. Magnesium deficiency is hugely prevalent. It’s estimated that about 80% of the population is deficient. It’s not something you can easily get in food. It affects cortisol, sleep, which affects energy. It affects your thyroid, it affects your muscles, it affects your bones, it affects your nerves. So there are a million reasons why we should take magnesium supplement.

Magnesium deficiency

Dr. Brian J.: So I’m reading something on the Dr. Google right now that says magnesium is actually a cofactor in more than 300 different enzymes and systems and throughout the body.

Dr. Olivia J.: Absolutely and it’s not rich in the diet. One thing, the reasons we’re magnesium deficient, the list is so long. One is because we started fortifying calcium into foods a long, long time ago. For at least 20 years we’ve been putting calcium in things. It’s in pasta, it’s in cereal, it’s in bread, it’s in OJ, it’s in milk. When you fortify calcium, you need magnesium supplement to absorb calcium.

So what you actually end up doing is create a magnesium deficiency. So that was one factor. Another factor is how acidic our diets are. Another factor is that we literally live in a more stressful society than ever before. Meaning we have more stressors coming at us and that affects your cortisol levels and you need magnesium to keep your cortisol levels healthy and in check. So the list just goes on and on. But deficiency is super prevalent.

Dr. Brian J.: Well here’s one of the things I remember when I was a kid we’d be drinking orange juice and everything would be like fortified with calcium.

Dr. Olivia J.: Right.

Dr. Brian J.: Or you would see, oh hey, you’d got to drink milk milk because you need more calcium. Like, it seemed like calcium was like the, if there was a good guy and a bad guy, like calcium got all the credit, it was what everybody felt we needed. The truth be told is calcium can’t really be absorbed in the body without magnesium, right?

Calcium can’t be absorbed without magnesium

Dr. Olivia J.: It can’t. We started putting calcium in things because we stripped the nutrients out of foods. When you fortify foods, you have to fortify foods in the most natural state, which oftentimes foods that are fortified are synthetic vitamins. It has to be with the other nutrients needed for absorption. So we actually started creating problems when we started fortifying food. One of those problems, magnesium deficiency and our rates of osteoporosis, osteopenia have gone up and up. More medications have been created for it. We have not fixed the problem with calcium and there’s a lot of reasons behind that.

Benefits Of Magnesium To Our Muscles

Benefits Of Magnesium To Our Muscles
Photographer: Alora Griffiths | Source: Unsplash

Dr. Brian J.: So there’s another thing I have in front of me right now that just shares some of those common benefits of magnesium supplement. We can go a little deeper on this, but when I mentioned it’s involved with hundreds of different biochemical reactions in your body. Some of them, there’s known and there’s the research behind some of the benefits are boosting exercise performance really to make a difference in your muscle tissue. Can you speak on that? Like what does magnesium do for the muscles?

Dr. Olivia J.: So calcium allows your muscles to contract, magnesium allows them to relax. So when you think about a workout, what are you doing? You’re contracting, you’re contracting, you’re contracting. Well, you have to have something to counterbalance that and allow those muscles to relax and recover. So specifically talking about muscles, not just muscle recovery, think of any myalgia, fibromyalgia. Oh, I have muscle pain or I have tight muscles that cause headaches or cervicalgia or back pain or leg cramps. The list goes on and on.

Dr. Brian J.: Well in today’s world I think there’s a lot of people that are definitely more tight than are actually relaxed.

Dr. Olivia J.: No doubt about it. I mean, we are so wound up, but magnesium helps. So we’re so wound up, so what happens is we overproduce cortisol, which impacts everything. Sex hormones, blood sugar, sleep quality as well, so we’re so wound up, well what does magnesium do? It tells our cortisol system, hey, chill out, you’re a day shift worker, go relax, go to sleep for the night. Magnesium activates that parasympathetic nervous system which shuts down the sympathetic nervous system and people are more sympathetic-dominant than ever.

Magnesium Fights Depression

Magnesium Fights Depression
Photographer: Nik Shuliahin | Source: Unsplash

Dr. Brian J.: So let’s go to another one of the listed benefits here because you just started to bring up some of the hormones and different ways that those could be affected and how magnesium can help. But it says here, magnesium fights depression.

Dr. Olivia J.: Well, I mean it definitely helps with mood. It definitely helps with mood because it helps with cortisol. It really, I would say it helps with anxiety more than I would say it helps with depression. But how we define anxiety or depression or even just irritability really varies. Here’s the one thing I do just want to mention, and again this is one of the reasons why I love magnesium. I’m taking it to the grave, I’m going to be buried with bottles of magnesium supplement.

So magnesium improves the sensitivity of your thyroid receptor sites. So it actually affects how well you absorb thyroid hormones. Magnesium affects water absorption. So when you see water weight going up and down, when you feel bloated, swollen, feel like you retain water, magnesium helps with that. So by helping with cortisol, it also helps with other hormones like DHEA, estrogen, testosterone, pregnenolone and progesterone. So it’s got a huge impact on bone, nerve, muscle health, hormone health, thyroid health, all of the above, mood and emotional wellbeing.

Magnesium Fights Diabetes

Magnesium Fights Diabetes
Photographer: Kate | Source: Unsplash

Dr. Brian J.: So you talk about cortisol, and this may be one of the reasons why it benefits this next benefit, which basically it says it has benefits against type two diabetes.

Dr. Olivia J.: Yes, because cortisol and insulin are inversely proportional. So all you need to know is they go up and down opposite of each other.

Dr. Brian J.: Well that’s actually another listed benefit right underneath it, it says that it reduces insulin resistance.

Dr. Olivia J.: Exactly. So literally when I lecture on diabetes, and we probably covered this, I think we did a podcast on type two diabetes. Actually, I know we did. I literally, when I lecture on diabetes, one of the things I say is it blows my mind. Most people with type two diabetes have never had their cortisol levels checked. It is so crucial and important. So yes, it affects blood sugar, which is your endocrine system.

Magnesium Lowers Blood Pressure & Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Magnesium Lowers Blood Pressure & Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Photographer: Marcelo Leal | Source: Unsplash

Dr. Brian J.: All right, let’s go down the list again and next it says magnesium supplement can lower blood pressure.

Dr. Olivia J.: It can. It absolutely can. It’s probably one of the most important nutrients in doing so because it helps you absorb water. So they tell you no sodium, stay away from salt, raises blood pressure. Well, magnesium helps you absorb that water into your cells, which does help with blood pressure. When you look at a lot of blood pressure medicines, what are they? They’re diarrhetics, they get rid of that excess water. That’s what magnesium naturally does, but because it does help stress as well, that’s one of the reasons or how you deal with stress because magnesium affects how you deal with stress that can impact blood pressure in a good way too.

Dr. Brian J.: So we’re going to do a couple more benefits and then we’re going to go a different direction with this conversation. But another one here, it says it has anti-inflammatory benefits.

Dr. Olivia J.: Oh, absolutely. So it helps tremendously with headaches.

Dr. Brian J.: And pain.

Dr. Olivia J.: So, well, okay, so let’s just be politically correct and say, we’re not saying magnesium cures everything, but I’m going to tell you some things it really helps, headaches, PMS, bloating and swelling, insomnia, many, many hormone-related issues, constipation, mood, myalgia, muscle pain, things of that nature. So pain. Yes, it absolutely does. Because think about it, we know this. When your muscles are tight, it puts an undue amount of stress on your joints, right? Because you’ve got more pulling and which puts more stress on the joints. So that’s how it will help pain.

Foods That Are Rich In Magnesium

Foods That Are Rich In Magnesium
Photographer: Maksim Shutov | Source: Unsplash

Dr. Brian J.: Makes sense to me. Now is magnesium found in foods and if so, which foods would we find it or is it hard to find in foods?

Dr. Olivia J.: It’s not in a lot of foods and so it’s found in Brazil nuts and chocolate, not just a bar of chocolate, like Hershey’s, like raw cocoa powder. The thing is what they found is there’s a very inconsistent amount in foods, so something like pumpkin seeds has magnesium, but one batch of pumpkin seeds that you got at Whole Foods will have different quantities of magnesium than the one you got at Costco than one you got at your regular grocery store.

So the problem with nutrients in foods, in general, is that there are very inconsistent quantities. So raw pumpkin seeds, raw cocoa powder, those are sources, but even the quantity that you need to get, the quantity of food that you would need to eat to get enough magnesium is very hard to do.

Dr. Brian J.: So that makes sense. All the more reason to consider it as a supplement because it’s hard to actually find enough in our dietary food choices to be able to provide what we need-

Dr. Olivia J.: With our lifestyle, we’re creating more of a magnesium need in demand.

Different Types Of Magnesium

Different Types Of Magnesium
Photographer: Angel Sinigersky | Source: Unsplash

Dr. Brian J.: All right, so here’s another question. I know the answer to this because I experienced both sides of this, but there are different types of magnesium, right?

Dr. Olivia J.: So all those benefits we just talked about, you’re not going to achieve that with a laxative, unless your goal is taking it for constipation. Then you take magnesium citrate. So magnesium citrate is used as a laxative. What that means is it’s not absorbed well. Magnesium is not highly absorbable unless it’s key-laded, so magnesium glycinate is the main source of magnesium I recommend.

There’s one exception to that. I recommend magnesium glycinate for anybody and everybody. You can take less dosage wise because you absorb so much of it. Magnesium glycinate is rarely going to give you a loose stool or diarrhea unless you take too much of it and that’s even called a magnesium load test where you load enough magnesium glycinate until you get diarrhea and that’s how you figure out what dose you should be taking. I like to tell people 200 to 400 milligrams of magnesium glycinate daily.

I recommend you take it at the end of the day with dinner or before bed. Citrate is a laxative. I don’t recommend it for all of these benefits. The only exception to that rule is magnesium threonate, very hard to find, very hard to make. Magnesium threonate may be the most beneficial type of magnesium for neurological conditions such as migraine headaches. I don’t recommend you start with threonate. I say you still start with glycinate and if that isn’t the answer to 98% of your ailments, then throw in the threonate in addition to or instead of.

Preferred Time To Take Magnesium

Preferred Time To Take Magnesium
Photographer: Brad Neathery | Source: Unsplash

Dr. Brian J.: So you answered a question I was about to ask, but it came out relatively fast when you were actually going through some different information there. I was going to ask if you’re on that island, there are some supplements that seems like it makes sense to take in the morning and some with food, some without food, some at night. When is your preferred time to take magnesium supplement?

Dr. Olivia J.: Magnesium doesn’t matter with or without food. It really doesn’t. Minerals don’t require food for absorption. They just don’t. With that said, magnesium supplement is one you want to take at night. Why? Because that’s the only way it’s going to positively impact the nervous system the way you want it to. So by taking it at night, it will improve sleep, it will improve cortisol levels. It will improve absorption of water, activating the parasympathetic nervous system because we’re meant to be-

Dr. Brian J.: Hold on, let’s make sure people know what that is.

Dr. Olivia J.: Okay.

Dr. Brian J.: Just so you know, your nervous system, which is basically made up of predominantly your brain, your spinal cord and all the nerves that go communicate to all your body parts.

Dr. Olivia J.: Organ systems, yeah.

Dr. Brian J.: It’s made up of two real sides, if you will, where there’s a sympathetic side and a parasympathetic side. The sympathetic side is your dominant fight or flight side, the side that protects you in the state of emergencies that you get in when you’re in panic mode and you’ve got to figure out what to do to just make stuff happen.

Dr. Olivia J.: It’s the system that responds to stress.

Magnesium Activates The Parasympathetic Nervous System

Magnesium Activates The Parasympathetic Nervous System
Photographer: Natasha Connell | Source: Unsplash

Dr. Brian J.: Yeah, and then the parasympathetic side of your nervous system is basically the calming side of your body that helps to put you in a state of ease. In today’s society, I mean truth be told, like most people live in a sympathetic dominance, which means their body’s always in a state of stress.

Dr. Olivia J.: Right.

Dr. Brian J.: That’s another valuable reason why magnesium has benefits because it helps to basically activate that parasympathetic side.

Dr. Olivia J.: We’re meant to be more sympathetic dominant during the daytime because our body… mother nature doesn’t make mistakes. That’s when we’re supposed to have stress. That’s when your body is intended to balance blood sugar because you’re eating during the day. At night, we’re supposed to slow down and calm down. That’s when our parasympathetics activate. But if you’re so sympathetic dominant and you’re not helping to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, then you just burn yourself out literally and you burn out your hormone system.

Dr. Brian J.: Well, we’ve heard, how many people have you heard over the years that have come back and said, well, first of all, magnesium supplement is like probably the most inexpensive. One of the most inexpensive supplements.

Dr. Olivia J.: Oh my gosh, it’s so inexpensive.

Dr. Brian J.: So the value of what you exchange in regards to what you’re going to pay to actually start taking a supplement versus the benefits that your body gets is like night and day. But one of the most common things that we hear, people come back and respond and say, hey, I cannot believe it, but I’m sleeping so much better. Right?

Closing Thoughts: Take Magnesium Supplement

Dr. Brian J.: Anything else you want to speak on and bring up in regards to the topic of magnesium?

Dr. Olivia J.: I think the source is very important. Glycinate, glycinate, glycinate, and in certain circumstances threonate can be beneficial and I’m not against taking citrate intentionally to help you have better bowel movements. I am all for making your bowels move if they’re not moving because that can create a whole other set of problems. Just don’t expect to get all those benefits if you’re taking a laxative or one that’s not highly absorbable.

It’s not something you need a huge dose of. It’s not something you’re going to get enough of in your multivitamin and it’s not something you’re going to get enough of in your diet. Very, very prevalent deficiency. Everybody should be taking magnesium. Starting when? Starting puberty and honestly, I’ve given it to our kids so I’m not opposed to starting earlier. I think it has many benefits, but at the end of the day, definitely at puberty age is the time to start.

Dr. Brian J.: If there are hundreds of functions in your body that are dependent on this particular element and you’re not necessarily providing that element in your body by food, then you may find some great benefit by actually including magnesium into your diet as a supplement option. So I hope as always, this was beneficial to you. You found some value and if you did, please consider sharing it with somebody.

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