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Magnesium & the Paleo Diet

Following on from last weeks post about Selenium, this week I'm focusing on Magnesium. You might think following a Paleo diet makes it impossible to develop deficiencies – but unfortunately that isn't the case. However, by focusing on common deficiencies, you can adapt your Paleo nutrition to ensure your micro nutrient levels are optimum.

Despite Magnesium being something that is so important in your diet, so many people struggle to get enough in their system through diet alone. In fact research has shown that in the United States alone only half of the adult population actually achieve the recommended daily allowance (though as we know, the quoted “daily allowances” are often woefully low anyway). It is this low intake of magnesium that has been linked to common diseases such as asthma, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, metabolic syndrome and heart disease.

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Just some of the many and varied symptoms that can show a lack of magnesium in the diet include – cramping, constipation, migraines, insulin resistance, fibromyalgia and hypertension.

So how do you lack magnesium in your system/ and Paleo diet?

It’s become popular to filter drinking water, which removes Magnesium, by filtering and purifying devices on your home taps or filter bottles. A general lacking of minerals in the soil is another culprit. If it isn’t in the soil, it can’t get into the produce grown there. Plants grown in mineral rich soil will have higher magnesium contents then those that are grown in soil with little or no magnesium. In general, lacking magnesium rich foods, especially plant foods, in your Paleo diet, is the main reason for deficiency.

Where can you get magnesium?

Mineral water contains high concentrations. Also, nuts, halibut, espresso, seeds and dark chocolate (a great excuse!) Leafy greens such as spinach and Swiss chard are excellent sources. Supplements those ending in “ate” such as taurate, citrate and glycinate  are what is known as chelated magnesium and they seem to be the best when it comes to being absorbed into the body. Alternatively you can apply magnesium oil for transdermal absorption which absorbs best when applied on the inner arms and rib cage. Bathing in Epsom Salts is another great way to increase levels in the body.

There are at least seven different types of magnesium available (and perhaps many more) that you can buy to take orally and they include magnesium carbonate, magnesium chloride, magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, magnesium hydroxide, magnesium sulphate and magnesium lactate. With so many variations out there it is no wonder people get confused when shopping! Make sure you do your research and choose the best supplement for your needs, of you think you need to take one.

Magnesium Oxide is one of the most popular supplements which are easily found at supermarkets the reason for this is because it is so cheap to produce. The down side to that is that because it isn’t absorbed into the body well, it will do very little for you. Try for a citric acid and magnesium carbonate blend, which is very popular and can be found in many of the better quality brands – when mixed with water it creates ionic magnesium citrate which has a much higher absorption rate.

How do you think your levels are looking? Do you eat enough Magnesium rich foods, or supplement?

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I spend a lot of time reading about various supplements, trying to work out what I should or shouldn't take.  I really don’t like the idea of taking supplements – it’s not exactly a Paleo activity we've evolved to do!  However, I know it is a lot harder not to get all of the micro nutrients we need today than ever before.  Mineral content in soils is severely depleted due to modern farming methods, meaning the produce that grows in that land and animals grazing on the land are also far lighter on mineral content. I've been especially interested in Magnesium.

 I'm fairly sold on taking Vitamin D3 and fish oil, but after reading “The Magnesium Miracle” and researching the mineral,  I recently decided to buy some Magnesium Citrate.

I had a lot of blood work done recently and whilst I don’t appear to have a Magnesium deficiency my magnesium mmol/L levels look to be lower than desirable.  Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in so many of the biochemical processes in the body, it is claimed to help with sleep, stress and help regulate blood sugar levels.  It's role in insulin sensitivity is especially interesting to me, with my current weight loss objective.

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There are so many different types of magnesium supplements – I found magnesium oxide, magnesium hydroxide, magnesium carbonate, magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, magnesium chloride, and magnesium sulfate!  I decided to try Magnesium Citrate as apparently it has a better bio availability, which means it should be better absorbed.   I believe this is the same form as found in the ‘Natural Calm” brand.

A lot of people get magnesium through skin absorption, either by bathing in Epsom Salts or apply magnesium oil – I might try this route in the future, but for now, I'll see how I fair with the supplement.  There are food sources of magnesium, such as green vegetables, bone broths, almonds and fish – but to achieve reasonable levels I'd have to eat such high amounts from the food source, that I don't think it would be realistic at the moment.

Do you supplement with Magnesium?  Interested to hear what benefits – or even downsides you've experienced with Magnesium supplementation!