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Magnesium: Why You Need It And How To Get It

It is estimated that a whopping 70-80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium and we need to take notice. It is not as easy to get magnesium as we would think and I’m going to explain to you exactly why you need it and how to get it.

Magnesium is needed for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body but all of these reactions can be broken down into 5 categories.

  • Produce and transport energy-this
  • Synthesis of Protein
  • A cofactor in assisting enzymes in chemical reactions (pretty much everywhere in the body and especially inside of our cells)
  • nerve signal transmissions
  • muscle relaxation

As you can see, it is an essential mineral.

What are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency?

Unfortunately, a magnesium deficiency looks like a lot of other health problems. This makes it difficult for practitioners to identify esp since only 1% of magnesium is in the blood and is extremely regulated to stay that way by the body.  Despite this, our bodies do communicate with us and we should listen. Some symptoms of deficiency include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Restless Legs and Muscle Spasms
  • PMS
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Unregulated/poorly managed blood sugar
  • Lower back pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Calcium deposits
  • ADD & ADHD
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Osteoporosis
  • And More 

What causes a deficiency to occur?

Unfortunately it is difficult to get a sufficient amount of magnesium through diet and daily multivitamins. In addition, there are certain lifestyle factors that will deplete magnesium quickly in the body. These include:

  • A diet high in refined sugar and processed foods and low in fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking 7 or more alcoholic drinks per week
  • Digestive disorders including Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Diabetes
  • 3 or more cups of coffee per day
  • drinking soda daily/regularly
  • Certain prescription drugs will deplete magnesium
  • Overtraining/extreme athlete

Along with these, modern farming practices where fertilizers are used (both conventional and some organic farms use them) also alter the plants ability to take in and store magnesium. This makes it even more difficult for us to get adequate amounts without supplementation.

What benefits can we experience when our magnesium intake is ideal?

  • Reduced PMS symptoms (my favorite)
  • Better quality sleep
  • Feeling rested upon waking
  • More energy during the day
  • Reduction in muscle cramps and spasms
  • Improved bio-availability and absorption of calcium
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Reduction in ADD/ADHD symptoms in children and adults alike
  • Improved detox functions in the body
  • and more.

The recommended dose for  men, women and children for daily magnesium maintenance is 3-4 mg per 1 lb. of bodyweight. So that would mean a person weighing 125 lbs. would need 375 mg- 500 mg daily. 

So how can we get magnesium and what supplements are best?

Most importantly we need to clean up our diet. Reduce refined sugars and processed foods, limit consumption of alcohol, coffee, and soda, and increase the amounts of whole, minimally processed foods you eat daily.

Foods that are rich sources of magnesium include:mgfoods

  • fatty, wild caught fish,
  • dark leafy greens
  • raw cacao
  • blackstrap molasses
  • nuts and seeds
  • avocados
  • and legumes

Along with working on including some or all of these foods into your diet regularly, supplementation will ensure you are getting what you need. You can take magnesium in a supplement form or apply topically through a lotion or spray.

Through my research I recommend applying magnesium topically. I have a couple reasons I feel this way. First is that the absorption rate of applying magnesium topically is about 90% versus when taken internally where the absorption rate averages between 20-30%. This varies depending on the type of magnesium you take and the health of your gut. The second reason is that the usual type of magnesium you get from your local drug store has a laxative effect. While some people might benefit from this side effect, most find this unpleasant. Getting magnesium topically gives you more bang for your buck. I feel so strongly about this that I give every client whom I work with a free 2 ounce bottle of magnesium lotion to help get them started.

My personal experience with magnesium lotion.

What prompted my journey to discovering magnesium supplementation was my son went through a phase where he just wasn’t sleeping. He struggled falling asleep, he’d wake up and play in the middle of the night, and was waking up tired. I started researching and repeatedly saw that magnesium deficiency could be a culprit. Since most Americans are deficient, I decided to buy Ancient Minerals Magnesium Lotion and used it on all 3 of us every night for a month. The very first night all of us slept better. My son fell asleep and stayed asleep all night. I felt like it might have been a fluke so I kept it up. It seriously worked. Whenever I’d forget to use it, he woke up tired. I found that interesting.

In addition to help my son sleep better I found a whole other benefit for me. By the time the month was up, it was time for my monthly visit from “Aunt Flo.” Now a little back story. After both my kids, I experience horrible PMS and it drove me crazy. I’d never really experienced that in my younger years. Well after a month of magnesium lotion nightly I hardly had any warning symptoms! No chocolate cravings, less moodiness, and then very little cramping and a lighter flow! Normally I would have been eating non-stop, having insane cravings for chocolate, then cramping for the first 2-3 days with an incredibly heavy flow. Such a difference and it made me a full on believer.

Great News! You can’t OD on magnesium!

The great thing about magnesium is that if you do supplement too much, it doesn’t build up in your system. It’ll get excreted out! (And because of this, I don’t recommend the “more is better” approach. You’ll be wasting your money.)

I highly recommend taking a 30 Day- Magnesium Challenge and using a magnesium lotion or supplement of choice for 30 days and see how you feel. For me, it was life changing.

For more information check out The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (affiliate link)

Do you regularly use or have used a magnesium supplement in the past? If so, please let me know in the comment box below your experience.



13 thoughts on “Magnesium: Why You Need It And How To Get It”

  1. Marian this is great info! I supplement with Calm at bedtime or when I feel constipated but after reading about the lotion I am going to try it! Magnesium is so important for feeling good and since we can’t get toxic from it we have nothing to lose. I have to say I eat avocados daily so I know I am covered somewhat. Thanks for this informative post! Magnesium lotion here I come!:)

  2. Good post! I just went through some IV therapy and got magnesium fed to me through the IV…it would relax me so much that I would have to come home and take a nap. I use magnesium oil in a spray bottle, as well as a cream for sleeping. When I was going through chelation, the doctor gave me liquid minerals – that gave me migraines.

    What a great list of magnesium rich foods! I am going to print it out and save it! Thank you. ~Cathy

  3. Love this! I think a lot of people don’t realize how important Magnesium really is for our bodies. It’s funny, I never even considered using it topically. I will definitely need to look into that as I have a ANS disorder and even a slight deficiency can affect my nervous system function. This is great information and I loved reading about it, thank you! <3

    1. Marian Mitchell

      Hi Ashlie, Thank you so much for your feedback. I’m so glad you found it helpful. You can use an oil spray which is easy to make yourself but most people find it makes them really itchy and they need to shower after about 20 minutes. I like the lotion because it reduces the itch (I don’t even notice it but my kids say they feel tickling) and it insures we get the most bang for our buck. Take care!

  4. Wow, this is great. MY best friend is a naturopath and we discuss Magnesium all the time. Love its benefits, and I agree, you can definitely notice a difference when you are taking the right amount. Sleep, digestion, bowel movements, energy levels. And, I dod drink coffee. I have never heard of the lotion. How many Mg’s of Magnesium does it have in it? How do you know how much you are getting?

    1. Marian Mitchell

      Hi Cynthia,

      The lotion that I suggest has 560mg per tsp. Since I eat a lot of magnesium rich foods naturally, I use around 1/2 tsp nightly. I rub it on the bottom of my feet and on my stomach. Here the link for the lotion I like to use and a fellow health coach makes it.

  5. My son was diagnosed with tourettes two years ago and after completely revamping his diet and incorporating magnesium, he is 96% symptom free.

    As you stated, many people, especially children have extreme magnesium level deficiencies. Therefore, they are experiencing a whole host of symptoms that can be easily corrected by consuming more magnesium rich foods and a quality form supplement.

  6. wonderful post! I take mag supplements every night- its the best for sleep and I agree about the benefits of pms as well. Love how much great info you share here- so many people are deficient and don’t know it- especially with autoimmune issues. thanks for this!

  7. Thanks for all these great facts about magnesium. For one, I love Avacado and will appreciate them so much more now knowing how they will benefit me with magnesium. Thanks!

  8. Magnesium is one of our favorite minerals. We truly appreciate your comments on this essential topic. Nothing like a soak in the tub or a foot soak with organic epsom salts (magnesium sulfate.) Magnesium is essential for smooth muscle relaxation. The oil and lotion as you know are simply magnesium and water which impart an oily feel. Peter has used it in the ED for life threatening heart arrythmias, eclamptic seizures in pregnancy and migraine headaches to name a few. We thank you for pointing out that most Americans are deficient in this very important mineral and for offering simple solutions by recommending foods rich in magnesium.

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About Us

Hi friend!

I’m Marian Mitchell, Health Coach, Chronic Illness Warrior, Mom, and Food Lover. I help you navigate the food and lifestyle side of Chronic Disease Management with coaching, meal plans, recipes, podcast, and this blog. You can thrive without eating the same 4 things every day. I’m here to show you how.

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