As physicians we generally believe that each person is an individual and can benefit from a different combination of vitamins–depending on their diet, lifestyle and health history. We all have different vitamin needs, based on who we are. That is why we created personalized multivitamins. However, there are a few vitamins that most– if not almost all–of us can benefit from taking.
One of these miraculous vitamins is magnesium. In this case, magnesium–actually a mineral– is such a crucial component to the function of almost every cell in the body. It’s role in making each cell work optimally may be why it’s so darn useful as a supplement. We will save you all the boring science we learned in medical school involving ion channels, action potentials and more. Suffice it to say, magnesium is what makes nerve cells fire, muscle cells contract and much much more.
It’s therefore not surprising that low levels of magnesium can take its toll on the body and gum up the works, so to speak. But how to know if we need more magnesium? This can be a challenge. It turns out that serum magnesium levels are not always accurate in helping us decide if we need more. A high serum magnesium is probably a good indication that we don’t need to take more, but this is rare. More often we see normal or low-normal readings and this is often not useful in telling us that we can use more magnesium to feel our best and help address certain issues.
Can taking magnesium help feel better? Often it can. It’s key role in cellular function leads to improved function of muscle cells throughout the body. This often translates into improvement in muscle function, body aches, fatigue and more. Several studies show improved migraines and relief from IBS with taking magnesium supplements. In addition there is data to suggest increasing magnesium in take can improve blood pressure. This may have to do with optimizing the heart’s pumping and/or improving the function of cells in one’s artery walls.
Taking magnesium to treat and prevent migraines is becoming common practice. It likely helps these debilitating headaches by preventing the spasm of certain blood vessels in the brain or by helping brain cells stay better hydrated. Whatever, the mechanism, taking magnesium can help migraines and most migraine sufferers should try taking magnesium as a part of a comprehensive personalized vitamin approach.
Magnesium may help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome by helping the gut work better. It’s role in cell function may aid the GI tract in muscular contractions and proper digestion of foods. Taking too much magnesium can cause diarrhea but if combined in the right formulation with other appropriate nutrients this is rare. The one group of people who should avoid magnesium are those with moderate or severe kidney disease. Most others can benefit from magnesium as a part of a vitamin regimen. People who are especially likely to be deficient in magnesium are those who take acid blocking medicines for GERD (reflux, or heart burn), those with celiac disease or other chronic illnesses that impair absorption of nutrients.
For these reasons and more we consider magnesium to be somewhat of a miracle supplement. It is a mineral which is hard to get in adequate amounts through diet, perhaps because we don’t always absorb it in this form. It is easy to take a magnesium supplement as as a part of a personalized multivitamin. How much to take depends on who you are and your diet, lifestyle and health concerns.
Romy Block specializes in Endocrinology and Metabolism and is mother to three elementary age boys. Arielle Levitan is a Doctor of Internal Medicine with a special interest in Preventive Medicine and Women’s Health. She is a mother of three active adolescents. As professional women with active family lives, they recognize that people often neglect their own health needs and are uncertain about what vitamins to take. Each person is different in her diet, exercise and health history, and will benefit from different nutrients. After years of advising their patients about the proper vitamins to take, Drs. Block and Levitan created Vous Vitamin® to provide people everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs. They are authors of the award winning The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health (She Writes Press, 2015).
The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered by Vous Vitamin® are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.