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The Benefits of Magnesium for Health

admin November 12, 2012

A couple months ago, I began using magnesium oil topically.  My original purpose was to head off any morning sickness that I may experience with my current pregnancy.  I had read research that magnesium deficiency was the real underlying cause of morning sickness.  With three small children at home, the youngest of whom was only 11 months old at the time, I couldn’t afford to be stuck on the couch or even unable to cook.

As I was exploring magnesium, I realized there was a whole host of benefits to magnesium for many people.  Almost everyone, in fact.  Are you curious?

Magnesium Deficiency Runs Rampant

These days, most people are deficient in magnesium.  Our soils are depleted, and our water is depleted.  Most processing of water (including most home filters) remove nearly all magnesium.  Even if you are eating an excellent, totally real food diet, you will struggle to get enough magnesium.  Deficiency leads to many common symptoms, such as:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Restless legs
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Poor memory
  • Muscle cramps
  • High blood sugar
  • Calcium deficiency
  • Potassium deficiency
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Failure to thrive (infants/children)
  • Seizures
  • …and more

Magnesium is needed by our bodies for all of our basic functions!  And a deficiency causes so many common symptoms.  If you are suffering from any of the above, magnesium may be at least part of the solution.

If you have had a blood test and it noted that your magnesium levels were “fine,” don’t take this as a definitive answer.  Only 1% of the body’s magnesium stores are in the blood, and the body works very hard to keep this level constant.  A deficiency that shows up in the blood is severe. Not showing up deficient in the blood does not mean that you are not deficient.

The Best Way to Take Magnesium

Most people are familiar with the standard magnesium supplements — often a “cal-mag” (calcium and magnesium) pill.  I do not trust pills really, because they are made with various binders and fillers and are poorly absorbed.  Others like liquid magnesium supplements.  Unfortunately, magnesium in any form is poorly absorbed orally, so these are better than pills, but not by much.  Too much oral magnesium causes a laxative effect, and in fact epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) are actually used as a laxative!

The best way to take magnesium is transdermally, or through the skin.

Magnesium can be absorbed by:

  • Swimming in water that is naturally rich in magnesium (if you live near naturally blue water, go swimming often!)
  • Taking a bath with Epsom salts or magnesium chloride flakes added
  • Taking a foot bath with Epsom salts or magnesium chloride flakes added
  • Using a lotion or cream with magnesium added
  • Using a magnesium oil spray

I choose the last, because I think it is the easiest, quickest, and most cost-effective way to get magnesium into your body.  You can even make your own, and it’s very easy and very cheap!

**Need some magnesium lotion?  Buy it at our store!**

To use magnesium oil:

  • Use a misting spray bottle to spray the magnesium on thin-skinned areas: inner thighs, upper arms, belly, etc.
  • Gently rub it in
  • Allow it to dry and absorb for at least 15 – 20 minutes
  • Use a damp cloth to wipe it off, if desired

Most people start with 12 – 24 sprays per day.  Every body is different and every situation is different, so you will need to adjust.  During times of stress and illness you will need more magnesium than other times.  If you being to experience loose bowels, you are using too much!

Help, It Burns!

I have talked to several people who say that they can’t use the magnesium oil because it causes their skin to itch and burn and sometimes even develop a rash.  I have heard all kinds of theories about why this is.

Some say you need to just adapt to using it (this is probably not the case).  Others say that you need to dilute it and use less of it at first.  Some say that it has to do with your body’s pH level, and that if you are too acidic it will cause this sort of reaction.

I have not been able to find any scientific research to back up any of these theories, necessarily, but I can tell you my own experience.

When I began using magnesium oil, I had no issues with it.  It did not burn or sting and it didn’t really feel like anything on my skin.  If I didn’t wipe it off, it would feel a bit itchy after applying a few days in a row, but really nothing much.  I was baffled as to why I had no problems and others did.

And then…I started having problems.  The rash on the back of my right hand that the furnace causes each winter flared badly, and I could hardly stand to put the oil on my legs at all because it itched and burned so badly.  I had to wipe it off after only a few minutes because I couldn’t take it.

Here’s what changed: when I started using the magnesium oil, I was having probiotic foods 1 – 3x per day.  I especially drank a bottle of kombucha everyday.  ( Kombucha is also known to raise your body’s pH to be more alkaline.)  After awhile I temporarily ran out of these probiotic foods and didn’t really use them regularly for a few weeks.  That is when the oil began to itch and burn.  When I began to do the probiotic foods, especially kombucha, daily — the oil stopped bothering me again.

I think that if the oil is bothering you, it is a sign of acidic pH and/or unhealthy gut flora.  Additional probiotic foods would be beneficial and may stop the reaction.  If you have some sort of gut damage, you may be unable to absorb the magnesium anyway and may need to work on healing first, possibly through the GAPS diet.

I also noticed that if I stopped using the magnesium oil for a few days that my muscles were more likely to get sore, I felt a bit more anxious, and I didn’t sleep as well.  Using the magnesium again quickly soothed my muscles, anxiety, and helped me sleep!

**Need some magnesium lotion?  Buy it at our store!**

Have you ever tried magnesium oil or other magnesium supplementation?  Did it help?

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60 Comments

  1. Great article. Thanks!

    Reply

  2. Great article! I have a question though,how would you go about adding magnesium to lotion?

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  3. My little brother (now 24 yo) used to be really anxious and cry his head out every night without a reason. I remember my dad having to take him downstairs so that my mom and us could sleep. He was so skinny and irritable all the time until, around 4 yo they figured out that he had a really bad magnesium deficiency. The liquid supplement helped him and he became a completely normal child ever since. Magnesium is really important. Thank you for this article.

    Reply

  4. Has the magnesium helped with your morning sickness?

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  5. Are loose stools the only way to know if you are getting too much? How do you know when to stop supplementing? I know that excess calcium and phosphorus can be unhealthy; does this happen with magnesium?

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  6. This is a great help! My husband and I had recently started taking Magnesium supplements (to help with different problems), and just last week I discovered magnesium oil was the way to go. I had not learned enough to switch yet, but this is very helpful, thanks.

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  7. I have not used it but I did just learn about the benefit of cal-mag for my youngest. He was a seriously restless sleeper. He would wake every night and be up for hours. Since starting the cal-mag (4 nights ago) I notice he sleeps calmly (co-sleep). They did not have the oil at the time and I needed results quickly (I was sleep deprived). I am going to look into this for my 6 year old who suffers migraines. It just dawned on me last night that he has had migraines and a bad constipation since he was very small. Duh – he was on antibiotics pretty much the first year of his life (I did not know much then)! I am going to look into the magnesium and probiotics!

    Reply

  8. I do! I have very poor thyroid function and Mag hes really helped my bm count and consistency. I know that may be TMI but when you are as bad off as I was, you are willing to tell anyone when you find help
    I also recently had a very early miscarriage but was having morning sickness first. Previously I have had Hyperemisis and this time I noticed and didn’t really want to eat, but I was not debilitated. I understood how some can say “O I might have to step over to the sink once or twice when I’m cooking but that is all for the whole pregnancy…”

    Reply

  9. Hi
    Thanks for the article!

    We use magnesium oil and magnesium chloride flakes in the bath. The flakes in the bath don’t seem to produce any itching – perfect for children, along with aluminium-free sodium bicarbonate – they work brilliantly together. This combo can be used effectivey in a footbath, too.

    When we initially stated using the oil there was itching for the first dozen or so applications (instructions said there may be “tingling” for the first dozen times), now fine – except for some reason my arms itch every time, so I just apply elsewhere. The brand we’ve been using is called Ancient Minerals, recommended by the magnesium expert, Mark Sircus – he’s commented that there’s been a new product recently released which is magnesium chloride and sulphur together (many are deficient in this, too) and this does not seem to induce the same itching/tingling response that some experience.

    If you have a nebuliser, magnesium oil can also be sucessfully taken this way as the lining of the lungs provides excellent absoption – reducing inflamation for those with asthma or other respiratory issues.

    Bowel tolerance is a great way to know if you’ve reached your limit – this just means to use as much as you can/need until you experience loose stools or excessive gas – then cut back from there, until just under this threshold (just as you would with liposomal Vitamin C). Your body knows how much it needs and will respond accordingly – severe deficiency and/or chronic health issues will require more.

    Cheers!
    Rebecca 🙂

    Reply

  10. Just started using the magnesium oil. Am currently just using the “sample” bottle that came with my magnesium flakes. But to me there was no burning or anything it’s like spraying on oily water! Did notice however that it can change up the smell of lotions a bit. Not to the point where u can’t use them but it can change them. Not a biggie for me!

    Reply

  11. Calcium/magnesium supplements are the best during “that time of month”! They fix cramps and irritability fast, without the side effects of midol and are safe to take consistently so its easy to keep on hand and know how much you have. Wish I’d known about it years sooner!

    Reply

  12. I used mag. oil topically during my pregnancy on my belly. It was often itchy. After using it for a while not so much. Now that my baby is here I get sore shoulders a lot from carrying my baby. I started using the oil on my shoulders but still continued to put it on my belly as well. My belly doesn’t itch where I put it but my shoulders do. So I was under the impression it did take some getting used to.

    Reply

  13. […] MAM – Monday Health & Wellness: Magnesium May Solve Common Health Issues […]

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  14. Kate–
    Outstanding article! This should be required reading of every American, especially those who are “pregnant” and those who are care-givers to those who are pregnant… Mildred S. Seelig, MD (the world’s authority on Mg and Mg deficiency) stated in her Magnus Opus on Magnesium: “Pregnancy is a Magnesium-deficient state.”
    To the reader who asked: “When do you stop supplementing?” The answer is when you stop living… ALL cellular functions require ATP (unit of energy) ALL ATP is stored and metabolized as Mg-ATP — it is the essential co-factor for life on this planet, both plants and animals. And what causes Mg depletion? *S*T*R*E*S*S* — otherwise known as every day life. “Stress” accelerates your Magnesium Burn Rate (MBR) and a chronic loss of Magnesium leads to symptoms, dysfunctions and ultimately to disease. But ALL disease STARTS at the cellular level with Electrolyte imbalance caused by Mg loss. ALL Disease…
    So Kudo’s on an excellent overview… I’d love to have you “Like” my FB community Magnesium Advocacy Group (http://www.facebook.com/groups/MagnesiumAdvocacy/) so that others might learn more about the vital importance of Magnesium in our daily life…
    Cheers,
    Morley
    aka, “Magnesium Man!”

    Reply

  15. I haven’t had any itching but since using it I have been sneezing 25 or 30 times a day and itchy, runny eyes. According to my muscle testing last week my liver is cleansing. Does magnesium have anything to do with it?

    Reply

  16. […] having that great bowl of beans for lunch to improve your health magnesium.Health & Nutrition:Monday Health & Wellness: Magnesium May Solve Common Health … Magnesium Reduces the Risk for Colon Cancer |011/12/12 Hangover · Creative […]

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  17. You didn’t mention one of the best benefits of using Magnesium Oil — deodorant! Applying it to your armpits works better than any natural or homemade deodorant I have tried, so you can get the magnesium you need and stink-free in one shot!

    Reply

  18. Magnesoothe is an awesome and pure brand I have used for a few years (from Dead Sea). Either rubbed directly on skin a couple of times a day, or in a soaking bath. It comes in salt and liquid form. Yes, the stinging does eventually go away, but I like your opinion about making sure you are also using a live probiotic. Thanks for the post!

    Reply

  19. I’ve found magnesium to be a HUGE help during pregnancy, and with tension and sleep issues. It’s a very soothing mineral, that allows the cells to relax…it’s the counterbalance to calcium, which causes cells to constrict. I never had ANY leg cramps during my last pregnancy, which was the first time I used magnesium.

    I just made magnesium oil last week, and have some on now, actually. 🙂 I also use a great oral supplement that’s rated just below IV magnesium as far as how it affects your blood levels. I posted that recipe, and my other research on magnesium and its links to several critical diseases here:

    Reply

  20. Question…What brand of magnesium oil do you use, and where do you get it. Secondly, you said you would use in during pregnancy to help with morning sickness. I have read that it is not recommended to take epsom salt baths when pregnant. Do you know why this is? Is magnesium safe when pregnant?

    Reply

  21. I use Ancient Minerals magnesium oil but I also drink lots of nettles too which is full of magnesium.calcium and full of nutrition.
    http://heal-thyself.ning.com/profiles/blogs/nettles-leaf-herbal-infusion

    Reply

  22. I struggle with high blood sugar. I think I am basically a diet controlled diabetic. I love this article, but have always heard that epsom salt bathes are not good for diabetics, because it can make blood sugar levels become erratic. I would love to try magnesium lotion or oil, but am curious if this is safe for me?
    Thanks

    Reply

  23. […] Inadequate magnesium levels contribute to insomnia, muscle cramps, irritability and headaches (among other symptoms). In addition, Epsom salts also help to detoxify the […]

    Reply

  24. […] Magnesium May Solve Common Health Issues : Modern Alternative Mama […]

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  25. Great article!
    Funny enough even though I’m a big sauerkraut fan, I seem to be one of those people that can’t take much magnesium oil. In fact, the only type of magnesium supplement that works well on me is the one everybody claims is the worse and the least likely to absorb: magnesium oxide. I tried a lot of different other forms, they all make me feel like my body tired but keep me awake at night.
    Then again there’s nothing like taking a hot bath with 1-2 magnesium pills dissolved in the bath-water.
    I noticed when I have a period when I stop with supplementing for like a week (because I forgot to buy more?!) I seem to be fine. But afterwards I get back my old anxiousness and tendency to not fall asleep because I think too much. Then I also get weepy and emotional. When I resume taking magnesium, I’m all back to normal.
    I never had that when I lived in my country. In fact if I ever supplement when I’m there I notice (took me 3 days to notice last time) that supplementing with magnesium gives me really bad stomach problems. I suppose the water there really has a lot more Mg than where I currently live. And there I thought I was just home-sick all the time haha, turns out I was more water-sick!!

    Reply

  26. Hi Kate~
    I have just made my first batch of magnesium lotion. Thank you so much for all of the information and recipes. I have several people I am going to be giving this to for various reasons … majorly restless legs, migraines, can’t sleep, achy legs and feet, etc. I’d like to know if you have any ideas about how quickly this will help, if magnesium is indeed the culprit in the various situations. I know so many different remedies and drugs have been tried in each of the situations I am trying to help, so I’m figuring some may not stick with it too long if they don’t see quick results. I’d like to be able to give them a ball park figure when I hand them their lotion. Also, how many times a day should it be applied to get the quickest results? Is it a good idea to apply the lotion to the trouble spots? For instance, achy legs? Rub it on the legs. Achy feet, put it there. Tension and pain in the neck and shoulders, put it there.
    Thanks again! I’m VERY hopeful that this will help many loved ones!

    Reply

  27. Hello, again. : )
    After my lotion cooled last night, I used some on my legs and realized that it is pretty oily… of course…… it IS made with shea butter. Do you think there would be any problem trying to convert this to a less greasy lotion? Maybe using aloe vera gel instead of shea butter?

    Thanks again.

    Reply

  28. Great Article. Thank you so much for helping raise awareness about the importance of magnesium. Here is a list of some more symptoms of a magnesium deficiency: http://themagnesiummiracle.com/27-symptoms-of-a-magnesium-deficiency/ Happy to help.

    Keep on spreading the word. Thanks again.

    Reply

  29. […] yolks (I also crave butter).  Thankfully I’m not craving chocolate much, which is a sign of magnesium deficiency (I craved it a ton after Jacob was born, but didn’t know that I was severely […]

    Reply

  30. […] into our mental health, and I came across magnesium.  Here on Modern Alternative Mama, Kate has talked about magnesium, including providing a recipe for magnesium lotion that I can’t wait to […]

    Reply

  31. […] exposure, you’ve washed the oily layer away and it can’t get absorbed.  You also need magnesium to properly absorb and use vitamin D, so if you find that you’re doing everything else right […]

    Reply

  32. […] for our family and my rest/recovery was not a priority, and I did not know that I was seriously deficient in magnesium (and possibly other things).  I did “okay” except for feeling very tired, stressed, […]

    Reply

  33. I have lung issues like asthma – I have a nebulizer which I often use. I am searching for a formula of Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil to put into my nebulizer cup that’s simple and not complicated. Can I use this product straight without adding water?

    Reply

  34. […] them because I found their website and I was impressed with what they said.  They explained how their cleaning solution is 100% safe — safe enough that if you accidentally ingest it, it won’t harm you. […]

    Reply

  35. Has anyone used this for seizures before? I have them and got off my medication about 4 months ago and just got a bottle of Ancient Minerals magnesium lotion. Thanks

    Reply

  36. It’s funny I came across this article. I have been researching and changing so many things that I can’t keep up with the “whys”, so when I found out I was expecting I quit using it until I took the time to check out how safe it would be. I will be starting back up right away!

    Reply

  37. If i am taking magnesium glycinate orally,can i still use magnesium lotion?

    Reply

  38. I actually read somewhere recently that the itching can also be because it is drying to the skin. If you add water or rub coconut oil on afterwards, it helps. I was using it for awhile before it started itching, and honestly, I eat better (more probiotics) now than before. Great article!

    Reply

  39. I started using Natural Calm mag supplement (check out the over 1000+ positive reviews) over a month ago. My experiences have been amazing! My anxiety and stress levels have decreased immensely. I no longer have insomnia. Each night I have restful sleep. I just feel more “relaxed” overall. I just found out Im pregnant with #4 and I also had really bad MS with my first 3, so Im hoping and praying this helps! I’ve also been using the magnesium oil.

    Reply

  40. […] MAM – Monday Health & Wellness: Magnesium May Solve Common Health Issues […]

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  41. In my experience the skin burning sensation only happens if the skin is inflamed due to any irritation. If you skin is healthy then you should not experience any symptoms.

    Reply

  42. I have just ordered some probiotics because of problems with my bowels, I thought while I was on the computer I’d have a look to see if anyone knows why magnesium oil makes me itch, then I found this site. I will be most interested in applying magnesium oil when I start taking probiotics.

    Reply

  43. I have made mag oil myself and the life-flo brand mag flakes do not burn my skin like other off brands…idk why but I like that it don’t burn…its says its from the Zechstein seabed, which they say is best place..so maybe that’s why it don’t burn…maybe less salt, same mag tho…

    Reply

  44. […] system. If you need headache relief, ibuprofen is not recommended during pregnancy. (There are some natural headache relief strategies, if you want to go the natural route, and stay away from acetaminophen as […]

    Reply

  45. […] into our mental health, and I came across magnesium.  Here on Modern Alternative Mama, Kate has talked about magnesium, including providing a recipe for magnesium lotion that I can’t wait to […]

    Reply

  46. […] for our family and my rest/recovery was not a priority, and I did not know that I was seriously deficient in magnesium (and possibly other things).  I did “okay” except for feeling very tired, stressed, […]

    Reply

  47. Hi my name is Natalie I’ve been suffering yes suffering with panic and anxiety for about 2 years i was taking doctor’s med that me me feel that death was a better answer I stopped cold turkey my gosh never again until recently I’ve only been drinking Kava tea yes I felt a little better but not enough to go back to my normal life you know leaving the house, driving doing my own shopping etc I gave cried everyday for 2 years crying now as i write this I am so tired and lonely and scared I have no one well know i feel I can tell this to without being called crazy what happened to me and why. I’ve been reading, praying and crying I asked so many people all strangers what to do everyone said try magnesium oil so I ran out three days ago and got some one thing I can say is I don’t pee as much and I fall asleep and don’t remember anything til morning but I don’t feel confident enough to get in the car and drive please help through this will I get better enough and have that fear free clear mind that I once did

    Reply

  48. […] works with other minerals, such as phosphorus and potassium, but especially magnesium, to balance your mineral levels. Calcium is, however, is the highest amount of any mineral found in […]

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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