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Bites #2: The most common deficiency is…

What is the most common nutritional deficiency in the US Population?  Many would say Vitamin D and they’d be right….  almost.  But, the answer is MAGNESIUM.

magnesiumFor a variety of reasons, we lack a diet rich in magnesium.  We take other minerals, meds or substances that compete or block its absorption (think Calcium, insulin, soda, alcohol and diuretics).  Do you have restless legs or know someone who has?  It is most likely a magnesium deficiency.  They estimate that 1/6 of all headaches in the US may be a simple magnesium deficiency.  Because magnesium is necessary for so many reactions in the body that use and supply energy, low blood levels of the mineral are implicated in metabolic dysfunctions like diabetes.

Magnesium is a powerful relaxant.  We give it to critically ill patients, mothers in pre-term labor, and often it’s the stuff you take to “clean you out” before a colonoscopy.  So, if our diet isn’t rich in it, what to do?  Especially if you’re already taking calcium, you absolutely should be supplementing your diet with magnesium.  At least 400mg/day, and often double that to help.  If you take 600 mg. of calcium, take 600 mg. of magnesium.  They are both positive ions, and they compete in your body, for absorption.  If you take one, you should also take the other.  The old conventional wisdom was to take ½ magnesium to every 1 calcium, but that has changed.

What is the best magnesium to use?  Mag Citrate, (it also helps with elimination), Magnesium Glycinate or Magnesium Aspartate.

Avoid:   magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide.  They are poorly absorbed.

Further Reading:

Huffington Post by Dr. Hyman:  Magnesium:  The most Powerful Relaxation Mineral Available
FDA Drug Safety Warning:  Low magnesium levels can be associated with long-term use of Proton Pump Inhibitor drugs  (eg; Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid)

Dr. Oz’ Blog – Guest Author:  Magnesium:  Why you need it

Medical Journal articles:

*    Sales CH, Pedrosa LF, Lima JG, Lemos TM, Colli C. Influence of magnesium status and magnesium intake on the blood glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Clin Nutr. 2011 Jan 31. [Epub ahead of print]
*    de Lordes Lima M, Cruz T, Pousada JC, Rodrigues LE, Barbosa K, Canguçu V. The effect of magnesium supplementation in increasing doses on the control of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 1998 May;21(5):682-6.
*    Kao WH, Folsom AR, et. al.  Serum & dietary magnesium and the risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Arch Intern Med. 1999 Oct 11;159(18):2151-9.
*    Wang JL, Shaw NS, Yeh HY, Kao MD. Magnesium status and association with diabetes in the Taiwanese elderly. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2005;14(3):263-9.
*    Nielsen FH. Magnesium, inflammation, and obesity in chronic disease. Nutr Rev. 2010 Jun;68(6):333-40. Review.
*    Barbagallo M, Dominguez LJ. Magnesium and aging. Curr Pharm Des. 2010;16(7):832-9. Review.
*    S. Johnson. 2001. The multifaceted and widespread pathology of magnesium deficiency. Med Hypotheses 56(2): 163-70

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I'm a breast cancer survivor, nurse, certified functional medicine health coach, graphic designer, wife, mother and grandmother. This blog is my story, and the result of 10+ years of fighting to regain my health, and never giving up. I hope by sharing my story and what I've learned, I can help others thrive the way I have been able to. Thanks for visiting.


  1. This is really interesting. I’m just starting to hear about this. My chiropractor recommended magnesium for back spasms since I was in perfect alignment and he could find no other problems. They stopped within 4 days. The added bonus (or problem if I take too much) is that there is no such thing as constipation when you’re taking this! The product I use is called CALM and I got it at GNC.

    • Yes Delana, that is a problem. I use Mag Citrate most of the time, but you can switch to Magnesium Glycinate if that “bonus” problem becomes too much! The CALM I see on the GNC site is indeed Mag Citrate. You can get Magnesium Glycinate at most supplement stores. I don’t know what they’d call it in France though!

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