Delicious Living Blog

Is magnesium the next vitamin D?

Move over vitamin D: Magnesium is about to grab the spotlight as the go-to supplement for stressed-out, sleep-deprived people.

As Delicious Living’s food editor, I don’t focus much on supplements (preferring to get my nutrients from food). Based on my needs and diet, I regularly take a multivitamin, omega-3s, calcium, and now vitamin D, based largely on how much news D has gotten lately and the fact that I spend most of my time indoors.

But this week it finally dawned on me: I need magnesium.

I’ve heard about magnesium for years, of course; we’ve covered it in Delicious Living as beneficial for stress relief, bone health, regularity, PMS, energy and more. But the clincher for me was sleep—or rather, lack of it. For the past few months, my husband and I were having a lot of trouble sleeping, which is unusual. We’d wake up in the middle of the night and simply not be able to get back to sleep.

I remembered hearing something about magnesium being good for sleep, too, so I contacted my former New Hope colleague Rick Hand, who now works for Natural Vitality, a well-known magnesium supplement manufacturer. Here’s his response:

"Most people do not get enough magnesium and a disproportionate amount of calcium. Depending on your and your husband’s diet, lifestyles (too much stress, too little sleep), it’s very easy to become magnesium deficient. While the symptoms are numerous (low energy, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, inability to sleep, abnormal heart rhythms, anxiety/nervousness), it’s fairly easy to reverse by increasing one’s magnesium daily intake. Also society (and our industry) has been led to believe calcium needs to be balanced 2:1 with magnesium, but many recent studies have concluded 1:1 is correct. [Ed note: See Delicious Living Editor Susan Enfield's recent blog on ditching the 2:1 calcium-magnesium ratio.] Americans consume over 10x the recommended allowance of calcium (highest consumption rate worldwide) and have the highest rate of osteoporosis.

"For calcium to be absorbed, the body needs magnesium, plain and simple. Calcium at a cellular level provides energy and magnesium calms the cell (hence Calm’s namesake), allowing absorption. Magnesium has over 300 metabolic functions in the body and found in larger concentrations in green leafy vegetable, but how many really eat enough and given we’re OD’ing on calcium no wonder most are deficient.

"I’ll be in Boulder later this week and will drop off a bottle of Calm for you and your husband to try. I think you’ll notice a difference rather quickly and hopefully start improving your quality of sleep."

So a couple of weeks ago, my husband, a pretty skeptical guy when it comes to “natural” remedies, decided to give magnesium a try, taking 400 mg at bedtime. Within two days, he started sleeping through the night again; last night he reported that he woke up in the middle of the night and then went back to sleep—“and I can’t remember the last time that happened,” he said. “Magnesium is magic.”

I’ve started taking it too. And I figure that if people like my husband are starting to become aware of magnesium, it’s on the cusp of major attention.

Do you take magnesium, and if so, why? Has it made a difference for you?

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