Magnesium is a macromineral, which we require quite a large amount of daily. Everyone seems to know the importance of this mineral, yet so many people are deficient.
Mg is involved in numerous processes in the body, which includes:
- heart rhythm
- vascular tone
- nerve function
- muscle contraction and relaxation
- bone formation
- energy metabolism – adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production
- DNA and RNA synthesis
- protein synthesis
- blood pressure (lowers high blood pressure by antagonizing calcium and also increasing endothelial nitric oxide synthesis)
- insulin metabolism (R)
- metabolism of Ca, K, P, Zn, Cu, Fe, Na, Pb, Cd, HCl, acetylcholine, and nitric oxide (NO)
- the intracellular homeostasis and the activation of thiamine (R)
- activation of vitamin D
- synthesis of the most important intracellular antioxidant, glutathione (R, R, R, R, R, R)
An Mg deficiency is staggering: hypertension (cardiovascular disease, kidney and liver damage, etc.), peroxynitrite damage (migraine, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, etc.), recurrent bacterial infection due to low levels of nitric oxide in the cavities (sinuses, middle ear, lungs, throat, etc.), fungal infections due to a depressed immune system, thiamine deactivation (low gastric acid, behavioral disorders, etc.), causes a calcium deficiency (osteoporosis, hypertension, mood swings, etc.), tooth cavities, hearing loss, diabetes type II, cramps, muscle weakness, impotence (lack of NO), aggression (lack of NO), fibromas, contributes to a vitamin K deficiency (arrhythmia, hypertension, some forms of cancer), iron accumulation, malignant tumors, kidney stones, alteration in blood lipids, psychiatric disorders, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, etc. (R, R)
Magnesium is essential for muscle function & building muscle
Mg affects muscle and exercise performance in various ways.
Firstly, Mg increases the cells’ efficiency at using oxygen, through increasing oxygen uptake in a cell. Hence, decreasing total oxygen requirement, and increasing endurance performance and the amount of work that can be done.
Mg is essential for ATP production, as ATP is bound to an Mg ion in order to be biologically active. Mg also increases glucose utilization by increasing insulin sensitivity and also by increasing GLUT4 and GLUT3 transporters, which can then supply the muscles and nervous system with more glucose.
Muscle protein synthesis is inhibited in an Mg deficiency, as it decreases leucine incorporation into muscles. It also decreases insulin sensitivity which inhibits other essential amino acids from entering the muscle. Individuals who are looking for a more anabolic edge/or who want to do everything possible for the best growth, need much more Mg than just the recommended daily value of 400mg.
Mg also increases total and free testosterone and IGF-1 which further stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Magnesium is required for DNA replication, transcription into RNA and translation into protein, which is essential for muscle growth. (R)
Resistance exercise combined with Mg supplementation for a seven-week period (8g/kg/day) showed an increase in muscular strength compared to the non-supplemental group. (the study used untrained men). (R)
Magnesium also acts as an adaptogen and lowers stress and cortisol. Cortisol is catabolic and lowering it will help with muscle growth and faster recovery.
Lastly, Mg significantly increases insulin sensitivity and insulin is one of the most anti-catabolic hormones there is. More insulin sensitivity, better muscle growth and retention.
Magnesium improves Thyroid function
Mg-ATP acts on iodine uptake and high doses of Mg increases the activity of the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones. (R)
There is also a positive correlation between Mg and T4 and T3 levels. Thyroid hormones are responsible for Mg entry into cells.
Mg supplementation, 10mg/kg increased thyroid hormones, free T4 and T3. (R)
Thyroid hormones are essential for muscle growth and staying lean as well as keeping androgens high. Read here about thyroid hormones and muscle growth.
Best magnesium supplement to take
Mg oxide is the most common and also the cheapest, but is by far the worst. Only 4% is absorbed by the body. My wife and I once ingested 4g of Mg oxide and felt absolutely nothing of it. Not even stomach upset.
The following would be the best to get:
Just beware of MgCl and MgSO4 (Epsom salt) if you plan of taking these orally, as the magnesium absorption is about 30% whereas the acid, Cl and SO4 absorb approx. 90%, thus putting an acid load on the body. Over time the acid will build up and your kidneys will have to work harder to excrete it, and might even put the body in an unfavorable pH balance. It would be best to take these forms only topically and not every day.
How to prevent stomach upset
Most people usually experience stomach upset when ingesting Mg. Here are a few ways to bypass that.
Mg bicarbonate: Although you won’t find this in the store you can easily make it yourself, and it’s been extremely well-tolerated by even people that are really sensitive to Mg supplementation.
Recipe: 1L carbonated water + 3tbsp Mg hydroxide. If you still get stomach upset from this rather use 1 tbsp Mg carbonate instead of the Mg hydroxide. Both these concoctions will give you 1500mg elemental Mg a day. You can ingest the whole liter in one day if you like.
Baths: Lots of people feel a relieve when taking MgCl or MgSO4 (Epsom salt) bath. Throw in a generous amount of Mg into the bath and soak away for 30 minutes. This will also help to excrete toxins from your body and increase circulation. For a foot bath, use 1/2 cup to a full cup, and for a whole body bath, throw in 1 pound. Always add equal parts sodium bicarbonate.
Topicals: Topicals absorb pretty well. Use MgCl oil or make your own by dissolving some in water. Spray on yourself and go out in the sun and give it time to absorb. The sun will open your pores and increase absorption. An hour or so would be good. This will help you get some vitamin D as well.
Another good source of transdermal Mg would be Mg acetate, which is metabolized into Mg bicarbonate once it gets inside the body. I make my own lotion with MgCl as mentioned in the androgens section above. You can make your Mg acetate, by using Mg carbonate mixed with vinegar till it’s dissolved.
Use smaller doses spread throughout the day. My three top recommendations is Mg pidolate, Mg glycinate and Mg bicarbonate. Try about 200mg at a time, 2-4 times a day.
Coconut oil is antifungal and three heaping tablespoons though the day seems more effective than anything else in preventing diarrhea from excess (therapeutic) doses of magnesium. (R)
Consume with food. If I take MgCl on an empty stomach I get loose stool, but when I take it with a cup of milk I get no problems what so ever.