Magnesium: The Relaxation Mineral

by Dr. Sasha Marinaccio

Did you know that over 300 different processes that occur in our bodies on a daily basis require magnesium? Chemical reactions that rely on magnesium occur in processes such as making protein, muscle and nerve function, regulating blood sugar and maintaining blood pressure (1)! If you experience migraines, you’ve probably heard that taking a magnesium supplement can help prevent those awful headaches. If you’ve ever suffered from constipation, you’ve likely tried an over-the-counter remedy containing magnesium. Folks taking a calcium supplement for bone health often take a combination of calcium and magnesium for proper absorption.

For such an important mineral, magnesium intake in the US is low: less than 50% of Americans meet the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for magnesium with their food choices (1). To make matters worse, things we consume (i.e. prescription drugs, caffeine and alcohol) can make us lose magnesium (2). Conditions such as prolonged stress, chronic diarrhea and excessive menstruation can deplete our levels too (2). The current RDA for magnesium in adults is 420mg in men and 320mg in women(3).

While there is no great way to test for optimal levels of magnesium in our body, we can assess our diet and look to common symptoms of low magnesium levels to determine whether we need to supplement. If you have a diet that is high in processed foods, refined grains, meat and dairy, you’re likely not getting enough dietary magnesium. Some symptoms of deficiency include (but are not limited to): muscle cramps, insomnia, anxiety, constipation, headaches, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and menstrual cramps (2).

If you’re one of the many Americans not getting enough magnesium and it’s starting to show, there are some easy ways to get yourself on track! Start with increasing your intake of whole, plant foods.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, here are some of the most magnesium-rich foods you can add into your daily routine (3):

  • Pumpkin seed kernels: Serving Size 1 oz, 168 mg
  • Almonds, dry roasted: Serving Size 1 oz, 80 mg
  • Spinach, boiled: Serving Size ½ cup, 78 mg
  • Cashews, dry roasted: Serving Size 1 oz, 74 mg
  • Dark chocolate -60-69% cacao: Serving Size 1 oz, 50 mg
  • Avocado, cubed: Serving Size 1 cup, 44 mg

You can also get additional magnesium through a supplement. While there are many forms of magnesium on the market, two of the most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate. These are the two I recommend to my patients and there is a slight difference between them. Typically, citrate can be beneficial for people who tend to be constipated and can be helpful in regulating bowel movements. On the other hand, glycinate can be beneficial for those with a more sensitive stomach. Either of these can be found in a tablet, capsule or powder form depending on your preference.

Another easy (and relaxing) way to get some extra magnesium into your body is to take an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate, which can be absorbed through the skin. This is a great option when stress reduction is needed, or when oral magnesium supplements are not tolerated. You can now find magnesium creams and lotions too!

Talk to your doctor or chiropractor if you think a magnesium supplement may be right for you. They can best guide you on dosing recommendations and to be sure there are no potential medication interactions with supplementing.




Office News

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Recipe of the Month

Apple Cranberry Crumble


Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 60 mins
Servings: 8


For the filling:
3 cups about 4 peeled gala apples, sliced
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 tbsp flour or cornstarch for gluten-free
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
cooking spray

For the topping:
3/4 cup dry quick-cooking oats, check lables for gluten-free
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp all-purpose flour, or gluten-free flour mix
3 tbsp melted whipped butter, or dairy free butter
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Lightly spray a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Combine apples, cranberries along with the rest of the filling ingredients in a bowl.
  4. Pour into baking dish and even out with a spoon.
  5. In another bowl, combine the topping ingredients; sprinkle over apple/cranberry mixture.
  6. Bake uncovered, for 55-60 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Serve warm.

Read more at: Apple Cranberry Crumble

All recipe images and text ©