Many of us with fibromyalgia are deficient in a number of minerals, including magnesium. Magnesium is known as “the relaxation mineral”, an important antidote to stress. Given the direct relationship between stress and fibro symptoms, at least for me, it makes sense to try to boost levels of magnesium for fibromyalgia.
Why Magnesium for Fibromyalgia
It’s the most important mineral for reducing muscle cramping, aches and pains, and for overall muscle relaxation. Our bodies need magnesium to grow and maintain bone health, and for nerve and muscle function. Magnesium helps to neutralize stomach acid and move stools through the body. It has a calming effect on our brain and nervous system as well as on our muscles. It’s a central building block in our enzyme systems. It regulates heart rate and plays a key role in synthesizing proteins. Magnesium helps relieve symptoms of insomnia, chronic pain and addresses skin issues such as psoriasis and eczema.
Stress burns up magnesium, which is one of the reasons we fibro warriors end up deficient. Our bodies think they’re under stress all the time.
What is Magnesium
Magnesium is actually a light silvery-coloured metal born in the stars when helium and neon fuse under extremely high heat. It’s the 8th most abundant mineral in the universe, according to the U-S Geological Survey.
Here on earth magnesium makes up 2 percent of the earth’s crust and is number three in terms of volume on the list of minerals absorbed by sea water.
Ah, Sea Water
There’s about a 13 percent concentration of magnesium in the ocean, which is why I’m living atop it, and jumping in it as often as I can. My body craves contact with seawater and it’s because it wants the magnesium for fibromyalgia symptom management. Our move to buy a sailboat and live on the ocean was very much about choosing a life and lifestyle that would allow me to manage my fibromyalgia symptoms.
Not All Magnesium is Created Equal
When you evaporate sea water you get magnesium chloride, which has been hailed as a miraculous mineral. Magnesium chloride is more bioavailable, more powerful and more easily used by the body than the magnesium sulphate in Epsom salts. Epsom salts may be easier to find, but the magnesium sulphate it contains is excreted by the kidneys very quickly, meaning the results don’t last long. You need much more volume to get the beneficial effects from Epsom salts than with magnesium chloride bath flakes.
Topical Vs Ingestion
The best way to get magnesium into your body is actually topically, through the skin. The baths with magnesium chloride flakes, or magnesium oil sprayed onto skin just before bed, are popular because they work. Oral supplements aren’t as effective, as the gastrointestinal tract and the kidneys end up removing it as waste before enough of the beneficial element gets into the bloodstream. Oral magnesium is also a laxative, so boosting your intake may give you more than you bargained for! Ahem.
Magnesium absorption decreases with age, disease, stress and illnesses. Some medications like diuretics and antibiotics also get in the way of healthy kidney function, which leads to higher magnesium and nutrient excretion.
How Much Magnesium Do You Need?
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) in the United States is 400 milligrams for men and 310 milligrams for women. Many studies are now suggesting this RDA is far too low. Either way, when you take a look at the top ten foods in terms of magnesium concentration, you quickly see how easy it is to be short.
The lush green plants that need chlorophyll for photosynthesis depend on the magnesium ion contained in each chlorophyll molecule. It’s one of the reasons dark green leafy vegetables like spinach contain so much magnesium. It’s also one of the reasons liquid chlorophyll is often recommended as a supplement for those of us with fibromyalgia or other chronic illnesses.
Top 10 Magnesium-rich Foods
Here are the foods with the highest concentration of magnesium.
- Spinach: 1 cup=157 mg or 40% recommended daily value (DV)
- Swiss chard: 1 cup=154 mg or 38 % DV
- Pumpkin seeds: 1/8 cup=92 mg or 23%
- Yogurt or Kefir: 1 cup=50 mg or 13% DV
- Almonds: 1 cup=80 mg or 20% DV (# 5 because who eats a cup of almonds!)
- Black beans: ½ cup=60 mg or 15% DV
- Avocado: 1 medium=58 mg or 15% DV
- Figs: ½ cup=50 mg or 13% DV
- Dark chocolate: 1 square/1 ounce=32 mg or 8% DV
- Banana:1 medium=32 milligrams or 8% DV
Not in the top ten but still heavy hitters in the magnesium game are salmon, cashews, coriander, artichokes and goat cheese.
Paying attention to the nutritional balance of your food intake and making sure you’re getting lots of magnesium-rich foods can help. Boosting the overall level of magnesium in your body, whether topically or ingested, can help reduce the number of tender points and ease overall pain intensity. And that is what I refer to as the magic of magnesium for fibromyalgia.