June 08, 2023 7 min read

In this article

    No, it’s not just you: magnesium is everywhere these days. Touted as the new supplement on the block, (albeit one we’re familiar with) magnesium is certainly having its moment in the spotlight. Depending on your social media habits, your TikTok algorithm might be chock-full of people urging you to drop whatever you’re doing and stock up on their preferred magnesium formula. In fact, recent analysis shows that ‘#magnesium’ has reached over 456 million views on TikTok, and ‘#magnesiumsupplements’ has hit more than 32.6 million views. 

    Popularity and buzz aside, there’s some solid science that backs it up. Most people that have become newly familiar with magnesium tend to be sleep-deprived adults in search of remedies for the tension, stress, and anxiety that have become all too common experiences in recent years. Of course, doom scrolling on Instagram and TikTok until 2am, going down rabbit holes of true crime, conspiracy theories, and who knows what else isn’t doing wonders for our sleep hygiene, but we’ll digress. 

    Whether you have a magnesium deficiency or just want to learn more about this “miracle mineral,” we’ve put together a complete guide with everything you need to know. Read on to get informed about magnesium, its different sources, what the experts say, and more.

    Intro

    Magnesium is one of 13 essential minerals, meaning it’s vital to maintaining normal functions in the body. It supports brain health (memory, focus, concentration), mood, sleep, muscle recovery, and the immune system. It’s involved in over 300 key biochemical reactions in the body, such as energy creation, protein formation, nervous system regulation, and gene maintenance.

    The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of magnesium in adults ranges between 310 and 420 milligrams depending on age and gender. The most common magnesium-rich foods include green leafy vegetables like spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Other foods, like certain breakfast cereals or bottled waters, are fortified with magnesium to boost intake among both children and adults. In fact, even some over-the-counter remedies like Milk of Magnesia® and Rolaids® contain elemental magnesium. 

    However, most people don’t typically get enough magnesium through diet alone. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly half of Americans of all ages ingest less magnesium through food than beverages than their Estimated Average Requirements (EAR) dictate. 

    What happens if you don’t get enough magnesium, though? Over time, habitually low intake triggers changes in biochemical pathways that can increase the risk of illness. Some conditions associated with chronic magnesium deficiency include hypertension and cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and migraines.

    What the Experts Say

    There is no shortage of expert information on magnesium and its impact on the body. Our team always recommends doing thorough research with trusted sources before making any changes to diet or lifestyle, so we have done some of this legwork for you!

    Dr. Andrew Huberman

    Dr. Andrew Huberman

    You might recognize this Stanford School of Medicine neuroscientist for his work and contributions to the fields of neurobiology, behavioral science, health, and fitness. After appearing on Joe Rogan’s chart-topping (and often controversial) podcast, his popularity and exposure continued to skyrocket.

    Huberman is known for what he calls the “sleep cocktail,” which he claims will reduce stress, relax brain activity, and promote more quality sleep as a result. The powerful trifecta consists of Magnesium Threonate (300–400 mg) or Magnesium Bisglycinate (200 mg), Apigenin (50 mg), and Theanine (100–400 mg) taken daily. 

    According to Huberman, Magnesium Threonate (L-Threonate) and Magnesium Bisglycinate help you fall asleep faster. Magnesium Threonate aids in preparing for deep sleep through brain relaxation by crossing the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and reaching the central nervous system. As a result, it activates the sleep neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is essential for calming brain activity by blocking the entrance of excitatory chemicals called glutamate.

    Magnesium Bisglycinate — which is composed of Magnesium Citrate and Elemental Magnesium — does not cross the BBA and is therefore less effective.

    Dr. Bruce Bristian

    The chief of clinical nutrition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School says magnesium deficiency is rare in people that are otherwise healthy and that eat a balanced diet. "The kidney has an extraordinary ability to reduce magnesium loss in urine, and thus achieve magnesium balance on a wide variety of intakes," he explains. 

    Bristian goes on to say that though taking magnesium supplements might be necessary, it’s important to take care and monitor the amount. Too much can aggravate or cause diarrhea or other gastrointestinal side effects. This can be especially problematic in people that suffer from celiac disease, chronic diarrhea, or other digestive disorders.

    Emily Tarleton, PhD and Carol Haggans, RD 

    Tarleton and Haggans are particularly wary of the conversations taking place across social media platforms like TikTok that push magnesium as a catch-all cure for every kind of condition under the sun. From constipation to anxiety and menstrual cramps, digital creators are keen to jump on the bandwagon, but might fail to highlight important information or details in the process.

    Tarleton, an assistant professor at Northern Vermont University, published a study in 2017 which found that magnesium supplements seemed to alleviate some mild to moderate depression symptoms. Further research is now exploring the possibility that magnesium might help regulate the amount of calcium in the brain. According to Tarleton, without it, people may experience mental health issues and migraines.

    Haggans, a scientific and health communications consultant with the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH), has said: “If you’re not getting enough [magnesium] from the foods and beverages you eat, taking a supplement can help, but it’s important for people to keep in mind that it’s always best to focus on getting it from foods first.”

    While much of the latest research on magnesium supplements is encouraging, both professionals insist that more investigation is needed. “We’ve done some studies and seen some very positive results,” Tarleton said. “There’s some potential there to use magnesium in a way that… is cheap, over-the-counter, [and] low-risk. But we don't know what that recommendation looks like yet.” 

    Tarleton acknowledges that not all magnesium supplements are created equal. “The most common is magnesium oxide—it's the cheapest and the most available, but that one really is just more of a way to help with constipation,” she has said. She also notes that it’s key to speak to a doctor or healthcare professional before incorporating magnesium into your daily routine, as it can interact with certain medications or supplements.

    Which Magnesium Supplement Is Best for You?

    At this point, you’re more informed about the health benefits of magnesium, what the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is, and what certain experts have to say about the issue. If you’re curious about upping your levels of magnesium through a supplement, it’s time for you to determine the best magnesium supplements for reaching different goals. 

    If you need help determining how much magnesium to take, consult your doctor. Measuring your magnesium levels isn’t always as simple as getting a blood test done and reviewing the results. Since most of the magnesium in our bodies resides within bones and cells, it can be difficult to measure this accurately. What’s more, the body will typically draw magnesium from the bones if it notices that blood serum levels are low. 

    Another thing to consider is that often, unless the deficiency is extreme most people low in magnesium don’t display any outward symptoms whatsoever. This is why talking with your doctor and conducting a thorough analysis of your habits, diet, and medical history is a fundamental part of the process. 

    No matter what, focusing on premium ingredients and high bioavailability is essential when researching supplements. There are nearly a dozen different types of magnesium out there, and determining which one is the most adequate choice for you can be tough. This is only further complicated by the current trendiness of magnesium, since the market seems to be flooded with alternatives of varying quality and substance.

    Consumers should focus on the following three elements when shopping around for a new supplement:

    • Transparency: Sourcing and quality of the ingredients. Study the label carefully and look where the ingredients (if synthetic) were made; see what kinds of clinical studies (if any) have been done. Some magnesium sources are patented or trademarked.
    • Purity: Lack of additives or superfluous “extras.” In general, the fewer ingredients in the supplement, the more bioavailable and effective it will be.
    • Safety: Certifications and testing that guarantee the formula’s quality. More specifically, cGMP and non-GMO are both important when it comes to the safety of your supplements.

    Conclusion

    Trendiness on TikTok aside, the role magnesium plays as an essential mineral in the body cannot be understated. Involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions, magnesium is responsible for maintaining many vital processes that impact our cardiovascular, neurological, and musculoskeletal health, among others. 

    Despite being able to ingest magnesium through a variety of foods - in particular leafy greens like spinach, pumpkin seeds, and almonds - most adults don’t even come close to reaching the recommended daily intake level. However, the wide variety of magnesium supplements on the market today makes it tough to decide which type and formula are the best for reaching our individual goals.

    Magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide, for example, are best-known for relieving constipation and are some of the more common types of magnesium found in supplements. 

    However, just one type has been proven to cross the blood-brain barrier. Magnesium L-Threonate is an easily absorbed form of magnesium that contains Magtein, which was developed by MIT scientists and is clinically shown to cross the blood-brain barrier and support cognitive function for early brain development and old age.

    All three forms of the magnesium included in our formula are patented and made in the USA using clean, non-GMO ingredients. To guarantee further safety and purity, ingredients are lab tested by a third party and packaged at a cGMP facility. With no artificial flavors, fillers, preservatives, or additives, it’s as transparent as they come.

    Achieving an adequate magnesium intake is a result of a balanced diet, conversations with your doctor, and potential incorporation of high-quality magnesium supplements. The benefits it can provide and the overall support it can lend to key body and brain functions are more than encouraging and can form part of a healthy lifestyle. 

    Ultimately, there are no quick fixes or hipster hacks that can transform your life overnight. True wellness is about committing to habits that can be sustained in the long term, researching the quality and safety of the food we eat and supplements we take, and listening to our bodies throughout the process. 



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