Magnesium is the third most abundant element in seawater, the 4th most common element in the Earth itself, the 8th most common in the crust, and the 9th most abundant in the known Universe. Why did I give you that textbook information? Because I figure, if it's that prevalent in the world we live in, that's a big clue that it's very important to our bodies.
Magnesium is essential to every cell of your body. Magnesium is responsible for HUNDREDS of functions of every part of your body, every single day. So it's not just important but CRITICAL you have magnesium every single day.
Magnesium is needed to make other vitamins and minerals work. Without adequate magnesium, you may find yourself having a deficiency of vitamin D, B1, calcium, potassium, zinc. If you have a known deficiency of any of these, it would be a good idea to add a magnesium supplement to your daily regimen.
What type of magnesium should you supplement with? We'll get to that in just a moment.
First, it's important to know that magnesium has co factors- that is, things that help it work, and work better, in your body. Without taking these co factors, the magnesium may remain inert, or your body may not be able to absorb the magnesium into the cells- another words, big waste of money on the mag supplements if you don't take the co-factors!!
Magnesium cofactors are: Potassium, B6, Vitamin C, Zinc, Selenium, Boron, Bicarbonate. Easy to get, so take a deep breath, this will not be difficult. For your potassium, read the potassium blog to add potassium foods and drinks to your life, along with the proper sodium. For the B6, Zinc, Selenium, and Boron, you can get all that in one good multivitamin. I recommend liquid vitamins, as they absorb better- myself, I use Country Life Multivitamin and Mineral Complex, it has all of these in it, and with a mango flavor it's easy to take.
When it comes to Vitamin C, you need a 'whole foods vitamin C'. Ascorbic acid is NOT the same thing- you should avoid ascorbic acid as it is synthetic and harmful to your body. Get your vitamin C from kiwi, papaya, strawberry, raspberry, citrus fruits, camu camu, rose hip tea, bell pepper, broccoli, tomatoes, peas, green leafy vegetables. Smokers take note- nicotine depletes vitamin C, so you will need more than a non-smoker. This includes any form of nicotine use, including vaping.
Now, to get the magnesium bicarbonate, you make your own using a bottle of water and a bottle of Milk of Magnesia. Recipe and instructions here.
There, that part wasn't hard at all! :)
Here's an image to help you remember the co-factors for magnesium:
Now, when it comes to magnesium itself, the BEST form of course is FOOD. Here is a list of foods high in magnesium: Spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, pumpkin seeds, summer squash, turnip greens, soybeans, sesame seeds, black beans, quinoa, cashews, sunflower seeds, navy beans, tempeh, buckwheat, pinto beans, brown rice, barley, Lima beans, millet, kidney beans, oats, tofu, almonds, rye, wheat, papaya, flax seeds, green peas, tuna, scallops, collard greens, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, raspberries, winter squash, cabbage, asparagus, kale, green beans, tomatoes, cantaloupe, strawberries, bok choy, mustard greens, cumin, parsley, watermelon, fennel, leeks, basil, cucumber, romaine lettuce, cauliflower, celery, bell pepper. Source
Note that many of these foods can be juiced, pureed, or made into recipes for maximum magnesium without tasting something you don't necessarily like. For example, I don't like greens- but when I juice them and add some apples, carrots, or pears to the juice, I don't taste the greens at all, but I still get the benefits.
Not everyone will do well eating foods high in magnesium. If you have an absorption issue with your bowels- you have malabsorption, abdominal surgeries, a hernia, parasites, candida, celiac, etc- then you need to get your magnesium through your skin. Transdermal, or through the skin, can be absorbed SIX TIMES more effectively than taking magnesium orally.
A magnesium bath with 2 cups Epsom Salt, 1 cup Baking Soda, and 2 Tablespoons Borax is a good way to get magnesium into your body through the skin. Soak a minimum of 20 minutes, up to 45 minutes, in a temperature that is comfortable to you. Rinse off well after, or the salts will dry out your skin. I take a magnesium bath about three times a week. If for whatever reason you cannot take a full body bath, you can still do a magnesium foot bath to get some mag into you that way. (half this recipe for children)
This is the "20 Mule Team Borax" on the laundry aisle. It's not laundry soap. I use it in my bath every week, and have for months. It's no different than using baking soda- which is also on the laundry aisle, yet you put it in cookies (because it's not laundry soap). There's a really good in-depth article explaining Borax, its usage and safety, here. On a side note, after a LIFETIME of recurrent UTIs, the Borax in the baths has eliminated these- no more urinary tract infections for me!
Now, for the magnesium supplements. Magnesium by itself won't absorb in the body- it needs to be bound to something. When you are looking at different magnesium supplements, the reason they have different names is because of the names of the bonds. And some work better than others, and all work in different ways. Here is a great infographic on the types of magnesium:
Magnesium Advocacy Group on Facebook- 50,000 members and counting!