Magnesium is such a crucial essential mineral, yet it’s so depleted from our food chain that an estimated 50 – 80% of the population is deficient. These deficiencies can contribute to widespread suboptimal health and not feeling your best.
Because our food and diet tend to be low in magnesium, you’ll need to supplement. Not all magnesium supplements are created equal. In fact, our Magnesium Breakthrough flies off the shelves because people can feel the differences. In this article, we’ll cover:
- What studies say how long you can expect to see a difference in your health once you introduce magnesium supplements
- Why you need to take a full-spectrum magnesium
Magnesium Absorption Time And Factors That Affect It
The magnesium absorption through the gut takes about 6-7 hours from when you swallow it to the bloodstream.
It then moves to storage, or to cells or tissues that need it. Any excess is excreted in by kidneys or bowels.
Your body has about 25 g of magnesium at any given time:
- 50-60% is found in the bones
- 40-50% is found in soft tissue (mainly muscle)
- Less than 1% circulates through the bloodstream
Your body can only absorb 24-76% of dietary magnesium. However, this can be dependent on your magnesium status. For example, if you have low magnesium levels, your body will try and take up as much as it can. If your levels are adequate, more is eliminated. Altogether, we call these processes magnesium balance.
Nutrients and antinutrients can affect how much you absorb. For example, calcium can compete with magnesium, whereas protein may increase magnesium absorption. Your health status can also impact magnesium absorption. Certain conditions, such as low stomach acid or poor gut health, can decrease absorption rates. Some medications can also interfere with magnesium absorption, as well as affect your current magnesium status.
Forms of magnesium can also affect how well you absorb it. Generally, organic forms such as citrate, malate, and glycinate are better absorbed than non-organic salts such as chloride, sulfate, and oxide.
How Long Does Magnesium Take To Work?
The time it takes to experience the benefits of magnesium can vary between people. Some can experience noticeable differences rather quickly, while for others it can take a bit longer.
In general, you want to take your magnesium supplement consistently to allow the body to build up adequate levels. Many healthcare professionals prescribe very high doses (many times RDA) of nutritional supplements for patients who are severely deficient to accelerate this process. This should be done under medical supervision.
Depending on the person, correcting a magnesium deficiency can take a few days to a few weeks. Your response to magnesium can depend on many factors, including:
- Baseline magnesium levels
- Overall health, including bowel tolerance of magnesium
- The outcome you are hoping to achieve.
Before starting on any supplement, it’s a good idea to check with your healthcare professional to:
- Assess your unique situation and ensure that it’s right for you
- Account for any underlying health conditions you may have
- Ensure that you have no contraindications or potentially dangerous interactions with other medications
Magnesium can help improve sleep quality by supporting healthy levels of GABA, melatonin, and cortisol as you wind down to sleep.
Promotes healthy functions of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyrate (GABA). By supporting the relaxation properties of GABA, magnesium can improve sleep quality
Magnesium may play a role in sleep by interacting with melatonin and cortisol. These are two molecules that regulate the sleep-wake cycle, and can be dysregulated in people who struggle with poor sleep.
When supplemented for 20 – 56 days, it may:
- Improve total sleep time
- Create a shorter time to fall asleep
- And improve slow wave sleep.
Magnesium alone may not be enough to solve all sleep issues because many things can lead to poor sleep. Establishing good sleep hygiene practices is important. Going to bed at the same time each night, creating a bedtime routine, and making your bedroom comfortable can help.
Mood And Mental Health
Magnesium is a crucial mineral for a healthy stress response (HPA axis) and brain functions. Therefore, low magnesium can affect mood and mental health.
The effect of magnesium on mood can vary. Some are able to see results quickly (2 weeks) and others take a little longer. Most studies looking at magnesium for mood support show benefits after 45-90 days.
Certain mood states can influence how your body uses magnesium, with more being used in stressful conditions. This can deplete your stores and seems to be why supplementation can improve mental health and stress resilience.
Magnesium may be helpful for promoting healthy blood pressure. It can help with reducing resistance in the arteries and interacting with calcium metabolism
The time it takes to see benefits can vary. Improvements in blood pressure can occur shortly after starting, but typically around 8 weeks. Benefits can extend even longer with continued use over time.
Noticeable changes can depend on many factors. These can include:
- Initial blood pressure levels
- Overall health status
- The dose
- And other lifestyle factors
You should know that magnesium is not typically recommended as a sole treatment if your blood pressure is high. You can also adopt a healthy diet, regular exercise, stress management, and potentially medications to manage your blood pressure.
Magnesium promotes relaxation by working at the HPA-axis, a system that controls the stress response. It helps to ensure a stable amount of calming neurotransmitters like GABA. Also, when your body is having a hard time relaxing, it can burn through magnesium levels more than when you are calm.
Generally, magnesium can work quickly to promote relaxation. Some have noticed effects as quickly as one day after supplementation, and others within a few days.
Relaxation is a subjective experience. Therefore, it is hard to know the exact effect that magnesium supplementation can have overall. But, 90 days of supplementing magnesium have shown positive effects on heart rate variability (an indicator of stress levels).
Magnesium may help you relax, but other things may help to enhance its benefits. These can include:
- Deep breathing exercises
- And other mindfulness practices
One of the more popular uses of magnesium is to relieve muscle cramps and spasms. This is because it plays an important role in muscle contraction and signaling between muscles and nerves.
Occasional muscle cramps are also a common sign of magnesium deficiency. Other muscular symptoms, like occasional muscle spasms, weakness, and fatigue, can also develop from low magnesium status.
When taken for muscle cramps and spasms, magnesium can work quickly (after one or two days of supplementation). However, this can depend on how frequent or severe they are.
While magnesium supplementation may be helpful, it may not be the sole solution or appropriate for everyone. Some cases of muscle cramps can come from other deficiencies such as potassium, or other causes. Since it seems to be most helpful if you are deficient in magnesium, it may not translate to everyone. Keep in mind, it’s important to see your doctor to rule out any serious underlying causes if you have these symptoms.
Magnesium has become a popular supplement for heart health and cardiovascular disease prevention by:
- Promoting healthy nitric oxide (a compound that can help with blood flow) levels
- Improving blood vessel health
- Functioning as a key electrolyte that helps maintain healthy heartbeats
- Supporting other aspects relevant to heart health like blood sugar control, metabolic health, inflammation balance, and stress response
How quickly you see benefits can depend on many things, like your baseline health status. Immediate effects of magnesium are often mild for heart rate and blood pressure regulation. Consistent and long-term supplementation (over several months to years) can have even better effects. These can include a reduced risk for certain cardiovascular conditions.
Magnesium is often recommended as an adjunct for improving heart health. Others include regular physical activity, stress reduction, and a healthy diet.
Stress And Cortisol Support
Magnesium is often recommended for stress support. It helps to promote relaxation and generally has a calming effect on the body.
For some people, it can have immediate effects on stress perception. However, most people see effects over 3 months. This is because, over time, magnesium can contribute to better stress resilience and cortisol regulation.
While magnesium can help, stress management usually requires a more comprehensive approach. This can include healthy lifestyle habits, stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, and getting enough sleep.
Combined with vitamin B6, magnesium becomes even more powerful in healthy people going through severe life stress. In an 8-week trial, researchers compared 300 mg magnesium lactate dihydrate with or without 30 mg vitamin B6. The magnesium + B6 had significantly better improvement than magnesium alone, with more improvement observed in the first 4 weeks.
Because magnesium seems to be helpful for muscle cramps, it is also often recommended for period-related cramps. It works by relaxing smooth muscles in the uterus and decreasing prostaglandins (molecules that create premenstrual discomfort).
Since magnesium has calming effects on the nervous system, it may normalize the actions of hormones involved in the menstrual cycle. This can make it helpful for PMS discomfort and mood changes that come with your cycle, especially when combined with vitamin B6 (250 mg magnesium + 40 mg B6).
When taken daily, it can prevent painful periods. Results can emerge after two cycles, especially with consistent supplementation.
Magnesium seems to be helpful in easing the menopausal transition, and with hot flashes, mood changes, and sleep disturbances.
Many women struggle with blood sugar control, cholesterol, and mineral regulation due to hormone fluctuations during menopause. Magnesium deficiency can make all of these worse. These could have consequences on health. For example, women with higher magnesium intake have stronger bones, slower age-related bone density decline, and healthier bone turnover
Menopausal symptoms are complex and can be influenced by many different things. This can impact how your body responds to magnesium supplementation. For some women, benefits can be seen quickly (in as little as 30 days). For others, it may take longer.
One of the most studied uses of magnesium is for constipation. The most common type used for constipation is magnesium oxide.
Magnesium oxide can make you go in as little as 1-6 hours. It works by drawing water into the intestines, which can soften the stool and promote bowel movements
How effective magnesium is for constipation can vary. It can depend on baseline magnesium levels, the severity of constipation, and other diet or lifestyle factors that may contribute. Magnesium generally has milder effects compared to other laxatives, which makes it a good initial choice
Muscle Health And Exercise Recovery
Magnesium supplementation is often considered helpful for muscle health and recovery. Because so many biological processes rely on magnesium, hard exercise can deplete stores more quickly. Deficiency could potentially impact your muscle and exercise recovery after strenuous activity.
Magnesium plays an important role in muscle function. It promotes muscle relaxation, energy production, and protein synthesis needed for muscle repair and recovery. Depending on your current magnesium levels, the intensity and frequency of exercise, and your health or recovery goals, magnesium may be a helpful tool.
It can take 4 weeks of consistent magnesium supplementation to see benefits for muscle health and recovery. Rest, proper nutrition, hydration, and a well-rounded exercise routine are also important.
Weight Loss And Metabolic Health
Magnesium has been explored for potential effects on metabolic health, including weight loss. This is because magnesium plays a role in metabolism, including energy production and glucose balance.
Magnesium status does seem to be protective for metabolic health, especially long term. So, correcting any magnesium deficiency can have an impact.
Supplementation can improve magnesium status, occurring as quickly as 30 days. However, the most benefits seem to occur at least 3 months following supplementation. If you are deficient, you may notice more drastic changes in metabolic health. However, if your levels are sufficient, you may notice little difference with supplementation.
Many factors can affect how your individual body responds to magnesium supplementation. In certain metabolic conditions, magnesium can be depleted more easily than in those with good metabolic health.
Magnesium is a commonly-deficient nutrient as our food chain is low in magnesium. Therefore, most people will experience improved health and wellbeing by introducing a magnesium supplement.
Since it’s an essential nutrient, you should take it on a regular basis. You may observe some health benefits immediately, while other benefits take longer to kick in. These effects are generally individual. Many magnesium clinical trials rely on less-absorbed forms such as magnesium oxide and chloride. Whereas, full-spectrum well-absorbed magnesium formulas like Magnesium Breakthrough may deliver faster and stronger benefits.
While magnesium is beneficial for nearly all aspects of health, it’s not a magic pill. Therefore, it’s best to incorporate other health habits to achieve your health goals and work with your doctor to address any medical conditions.
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