Has your "supplement shelfie" become a touch crowded of late? Sorry to break it to you, but it might be time to make room for one more: magnesium.
Wellness lovers love turning to supplements to balance out dietary deficiencies with vitamins, herbs, compounds, and more — and no one knows this better than Kelly McCann, MD. The owner and founder of The Spring Center in Costa Mesa, California, McCann heads a mecca for functional and integrative medicine. With degrees in Western medicine as well as naturopathy, her holistic understanding of the oft-overlooked mineral has us convinced its worth adding to your lineup.
Our expert explained that magnesium is needed for a hundreds biological processes, from muscle and nerve function, to energy production, to blood pressure regulation, and the list goes on. Ideally, we would be able to rely on our food sources to provide us with the mineral, but the modern food supply unfortunately lets us down. "Most processed foods and non-organic foods contain very little magnesium," she corroborates. Combining the high biological demand with its limited natural sources, upping your magnesium intake with a supplement could be a good idea.
To find out whether a magnesium supplement belongs in your future, read on to learn about the eight signs that your magnesium levels are low… and what to do about it.
"Nearly everyone can benefit from a magnesium supplement as 75% of the population is deficient," McCann explains. "Magnesium is required in over 300 different metabolic processes in the body, [making it] easy to become deficient."
You smoke, drink, or take certain medications.
Certain lifestyle choices can limit your supply by compromising your body's absorptive abilities. "Smoking, [drinking] alcohol, and many medications have been shown to interfere with magnesium absorption," McCann explains.
You're anxious or depressed.
"Both anxiety and depression are associated with low magnesium," McCann shares. "Mg is needed for [the] conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, and has been shown to be helpful to prevent depression and support treatment."
(FYI: Serotonin is the calm and happy neurotransmitter targeted by many antidepressants. Low levels are associated with both depression and anxiety.)
Remember that wellness and bowel movements tend to go hand-in-hand, so if you aren't quite "regular," there could be cause for concern. Think of it this way: Every time we detox, we retox. Regular elimination is an important form of detoxing; if you aren't going number two at least once a day, something should be done. Magnesium can be helpful, as it's associated with softening stool.
You suffer from headaches or migraines.
One of the worst parts about migraines is how difficult they are to treat. As McCann reveals, magnesium might offer sweet relief: "Both oral and IV magnesium can reduce and even stop a migraine."
You deal with muscle aches, weakness, or cramps.
"Magnesium deficiency may also manifest as muscle aches, weakness or muscle twitches, and muscle cramps," she shares.
You have sleep problems.
Even your insomnia can benefit from upping your levels. "Magnesium has been shown to improve every sleep parameter and reduce restless legs," she states.
You have asthma.
Asthma attacks are terrifying, even when you have an inhaler within reach. According to McCann, tending to your magnesium levels can help: "Magnesium inadequacy increases asthma and bronchospasms."
The fact is that our bodies' need for magnesium isn't going anywhere, while the natural sources of magnesium are becoming more scarce. The case for taking a magnesium supplement is strong, with a long list of physical ailments that can stem from low magnesium levels. Evidence shows low magnesium levels are linked to all sorts of serious health outcomes, including heart health, bone mineralization, diabetes, and PMS—in addition to the symptoms above.
If any of these wellness woes speak to you, McCann recommends choosing an oral supplement and taking it at nighttime before bed. Be sure to choose a highly bioavailable form of the mineral to ensure its efficacy — Magnesium chloride, lactate, and aspartate are three of McCann's picks. Even if you're unable to tolerate an oral pill, topical options exist. Epsom bath salts, magnesium oils, and body lotions can all help give your mineral levels a boost.
Shop some of our picks below.