I love chocolate. The darker the better. If you find yourself craving chocolate (especially during certain times of the month), your body might be telling you that it needs magnesium. Magnesium is one of the alkaline earth metals on the periodic table and our bodies use it for many different purposes. It helps with blood sugar balance, bone health, cardiovascular health, thyroid function, and digestion.
We can take it as a supplement to help with sleep, muscle aches, cramps, and to keep our bowel movements regular. Magnesium helps us maintain energy levels, body–nerve connections, and helps to form our DNA and RNA in our cells. Magnesium levels can decrease during a woman’s period, which is probably why many women crave chocolate during this time of the month. These low magnesium levels can also contribute to PMS and hormonal migraines.
Signs and symptoms of a magnesium deficiency can include fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle spasms, high blood pressure, and migraine headaches.
Some medications can deplete magnesium:
Prednisone, Dexamethasone, Methylprednisolone
Prilosec, Nexium, Protonix, Pepcid
Tums, Maalox, Mylanta, Alka-Seltzer
Amoxicillin, Azithromycin, Ciprofloxacin, Bactrim
Blood Pressure Medications
Hydralazine, Furosemide, HCTZ, Metolazone
Bile Acid Sequestrants
Estradiol, Conjugated Estrogens, Estropipate, Levonorgestrel
Alcohol, Coffee, High Cortisol Levels, Estrogen Dominance, High-Sugar Diet, Malabsorption (Poor Gut Health), Mineral Oil
Many of these medications are on the top 200 list of most prescribed drugs in the US. How many times has your doctor or pharmacist warned you about micronutrient depletions with these medications? Or recommended a magnesium supplement to be taken while on these medications? Sadly, our health education system is behind in teaching our doctors and pharmacists about micronutrient depletions in medical school and pharmacy school. Even if a doctor or pharmacist recommends a magnesium supplement with these medications, the most common supplement available over the counter is Magnesium Oxide. Since this only provides 4% bioavailability, this is not the recommended form for the most absorption and benefit. The only reason it is so prevalent is because it is cheap to produce.
Cheaper is not always better. Some more beneficial choices include:
Magnesium glycinate has the highest bioavailability, does not have laxative effects, and is the best supplement to replenish low magnesium levels quickly.
Magnesium malate also has high bioavailability and non-laxative effects and is a good choice to replenish low magnesium levels.
Magnesium citrate has good absorption, high laxative effects, and for that reason it is not recommended to use to replenish low magnesium levels.
Magnesium chloride can be applied topically to the skin to bypass absorption in the gut. This is good for people with leaky gut, digestive issues, or non-pill takers.
If you experience stomach cramping and diarrhea, you may be taking too much magnesium. Always consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before starting any supplements, because they may interact with other medications you are taking or other health conditions.
Magnesium supplements can interact with these medications:
Amikacin, Gentamicin, Neomycin, Tobramycin
Alendronate, Ibandronate, Risedronate
Calcium Channel Blockers
Amlodipine, Nifedipine, Diltiazem, Verapamil
Ciprofloxacin, Levofloxacin, Moxifloxacin
Skeletal Muscle Relaxants
Cyclobenzaprine, Methocarbamol, Tizanidine
Tetracycline, Doxycycline, Minocycline
Some food sources for magnesium include nuts (almond & cashews), seeds (flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds), legumes (black beans, edamame, peanuts, lima beans), quinoa, spinach, and dark chocolate (70-85%). Our conventional farming practices have depleted the soil of important nutrients like magnesium, so it still may be necessary to take a supplement to increase your magnesium levels.
Again, I encourage you to work with a Functional Medicine provider whenever possible to get to the root causes for disease and discover if you have any deficiencies in your micronutrients. Pay attention to your cravings. Your body (or microbiome) may be trying to tell you something.
Are you ready to PIVOT to functional health and wellness?