Magnesium is essential for your body to function. The heart, kidneys and muscles in particular cannot function without magnesium. Magnesium is also essential for activating enzymes and helps to regulate the levels of other important nutrients in the body.
Certain medical conditions however can result in an insufficiency of magnesium, such as fibromyalgia, autoimmune disease, irritable bowel syndrome, coeliacs disease, depression, and even pre-menstrual syndrome. There are many more as well.
In some cases, like myself, there may be damage to the intestines and your body might not be as efficient as it should be at absorbing nutrients. This is a problem for coeliacs, and those with Crohn’s disease in particular. I also have to take vitamin D supplements and have B12 injections.
Additionally, many of us take medications that lower magnesium levels in the body, such as some chemotherapy drugs and steroids. We really can’t win, can we!
Magnesium deficiency isn’t obvious as the symptoms are common to many other conditions and it is often overlooked.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include, but are not limited to:
- Sleep disturbances
- Restless leg syndrome
- Muscle weakness
- Low blood pressure
From this list it is easy to see that there is a LOT of symptom overlap with conditions such as fibromyalgia, CFS/ME and any autoimmune diseases. It is important to check with your Dr if you might need to take magnesium in supplement form and to make sure that you have been correctly diagnosed. In my experience it is the patient who has to lead the way and work with the Dr to get the best help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
I scare some doctors as they see in my notes that my title is Dr. The first thing they ask is what am I a Dr in? I’m a physiologist so I do have a medical background and can talk on their level BUT and this is a big but, I am NOT a medical doctor.
Don’t forget also that the patient is very often more of an expert than the Dr in the day to day living and management of their illness. It really is up to us to keep educated and to find a doctor who will work with us.
Disclosure: “Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.”
Where do we get magnesium from?
The obvious place to get magnesium is in our diets and even if we have a G.I. problem we should still know which foods are good for magnesium.
Many rich sources of magnesium are nuts and pulses as well as green leafy vegetables. Also, in bananas, baked potatoes (with the skins) and my favourite food, chocolate! Yes, chocolate!
Check here for a list of magnesium rich foods.
However, due to intensive farming of our soils and overcooking of vegetables our food does not contain as much magnesium as it did in our grandparents day.
As many of us need extra magnesium, often due to dietary restrictions. For instance, me and my daughter are allergic to pulses and I can’t eat gluten containing foods so that rules out a fairly large portion of the magnesium rich foods.
Supplements can be purchased in most UK supermarkets these days but they can also be prescribed by your Dr.
I have read repeatedly over the years about the benefits of bathing in Epsom salts for conditions such as restless leg syndrome, autoimmune arthritis (RA, PsA) and fibromyalgia pain.
I am always the skeptic but after suffering for years and being reluctant as I can’t get in and out of a bath easily, I eventually gave in and tried it. Hubby helped me into the bath and I had a long soak for about half an hour. I felt great while in the warm water but the real test was going to be if it lasted or not afterwards?
To my surprise and I felt better for the rest of the day and had a much better night sleep than usual.
The downside of course was that I struggle to get in and out of our bath and I prefer my walk in shower with its seat.
A few years ago my daughter starting having fibro type symptoms and particularly pain in her legs and arms during the night. I started adding Epsom salts to her bath years ago without her knowing and would you know it, she improved and slept better on those nights. She was my blind study! Always the scientist!
A great advantage to Epsom salts is that they are really cheap to buy and it’s an excuse for a long soak in the tub!
They can be found in most pharmacies as well as online here.
If you find that this method works for you I would recommend buying them in bulk online as you will need about half a cup of salts per bath and you can generally only get one small size in the pharmacy. You can always save some pretty bottles and fill them (don’t forget to label them) so that you don’t have a bucket of salts in the bathroom! Perhaps not the best bathroom decor!
This is my preferred way to supplement my magnesium. I don’t absorb food very well so tablet form isn’t much good, and I struggle with the bath tub and am reluctant to bother any more. So… I found magnesium cream that I can simply rub into my skin after a shower.
Due to my skin type the cream didn’t suit me too well and my mum pinched the cream from me and loves it.
I then found that the same company also did a lotion and that suits me so much better. It absorbs into my skin really well, is unperfumed (the residual smell is fine) as well as being good for sensitive skin. I have definitely found my preferred way of getting my magnesium after working my way through this list.
This is the brand that I prefer and am really happy with. A little also goes a really long way and I’m still on my first lotion bottle since the New Year with plenty left.
Many of us with chronic illness are deficient in magnesium and could benefit from supplementation. I’ve outlined here some of the ways that you can get more magnesium and I hope that at least one will suit your needs.
Don’t forget to always tell your Dr if you are taking supplements of any kind and work with them. Often you might need to add another supplement as well for best results.
After a few months of using the magnesium lotion (along with other supplements advised by my Dr) I can report that I feel like I am having more better days and feel more alert during the day. I still have to pay close attention to my body but I definitely feel as though I am moving in the right direction.
I hope that this post is useful for you as a starting place. Please note that I am NOT a medical doctor and that you should talk to your Dr as well. If you have any more advice or comments please do leave them below for others.
I wish you many more better days ahead.
*Disclaimer. This post contains affiliate links from which I may earn a small commission. This does not in any way affect the prices that you pay. All views and opinions in this post are my own. I am not a medical doctor so please take advise from your Dr before starting any new supplements.