There is so much conflicting information about what to look for when choosing a nutritional supplement

November 8 2013one Commented

Categorized Under: Health product reviews, Healthy eating, Mineral supplements, Natural health supplements

So I thought I would look at some specific minerals and go over the main points to look out for when choosing a supplement that is based on this, or that contains this vital mineral. Today we will look at the mineral Magnesium and what to look for when choosing a magnesium supplement.

With so many varieties available, it can be a mine field when trying to choose one for you and your family. Some contain just magnesium, where others contain 2-5 different forms of magnesium all in the 1 formula.  Some contain other ingredients.

Xcel Health Superior Magnesium is a highly absorbable form of magnesium

So how do you know which one to choose? The 1st thing I look at is the form of magnesium being used. There are many forms of magnesium.  Some work better for specific areas of the body and some are more absorbable than others. For example magnesium oxide is not very absorbable, where magnesium citrate is. I like magnesium citrate, 1 of the most absorbable forms of this mineral.  This is the form I use in my own product Superior Magnesium.

The next thing to look for is “Does the formula contain the essential co factors that are needed to absorb the magnesium?” In New Zealand we have very specific mineral depletions in our soil, for example zinc, selenium and boron. To uptake and absorb magnesium efficiently, the formulation should also contain calcium, zinc, boron, vitamin D and vitamin B6.

Without these important co factors, you may not be able to absorb the magnesium in the supplement. We can find all of these co factors in our product Superior Magnesium, formulated specifically with New Zealand nutritional needs in mind.

So why do so many people need extra magnesium?

Magnesium is a very hard mineral to get enough of in our diet, as it is lost with food refining.  Because we tend to eat so many processed foods these days (as opposed to Whole foods), most foods are devoid of magnesium by the time we consume them.

As well as this, most of us are very “acidic”. Magnesium is a buffering, alkalising mineral, so when we have a higher acid condition in the body, we will use magnesium up at a much faster rate than usual.

Things that can cause our body to be more acidic include processed foods, alcohol and coffee, as well as stress, overwork & a lack of sleep.

As well as this, busy active people will tend to need a lot more magnesium than those who are inactive.  In fact, anyone who is more “hyper” (as opposed to hypo) will need a lot more than other people.

So how would you know if you needed extra magnesium?

Magnesium is a mineral needed by every cell in your body. It is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps the heart rhythm steady and the bones strong. It is also involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.

When I think of magnesium, I mainly think of Muscles (M for magnesium, M for Muscles).  So with any problem relating to our muscles, magnesium is a good one to try first. So this includes muscle cramp, twitches, eye flicks & restless legs (where your legs feel fidgety and you can’t get them in a comfortable position, especially at night).

Other symptoms where magnesium may be specific include irritability, nervousness, period pain (the uterus is a big muscle, so needs a lot of this mineral to contract and relax properly) and an inability to switch your brain off at night time to go to sleep.

Those with diabetes, cardiovascular disorders (like high blood pressure) and those on thyroxine need a lot more of this mineral than others, as these conditions and the medications often prescribed, increase the loss of magnesium in the urine.

Food sources of Magnesium

Food sources of magnesium include green vegetables, whole nuts, seeds and whole grains. “Whole” means they have not been processes and that the “bran” has not been removed from the grain during processing. Whole wheat bread has twice the amount of magnesium as white bread, as over 80% of the magnesium is lost during the refining of these. Other food sources include molasses, kelp, eggs, dark chocolate and some dried fruits.

So it’s all well and good taking a nutritional supplement, but will we absorb it?

Many people talk about supplements passing straight through them and just eliminating it. But is this true? Bottom line is there is no point taking a supplement and not absorbing it, so it really is something to look at.

I have mentioned the form of minerals and how some are more absorbable than others and how we need the correct co factors to up-take and then absorb the nutrient, but what about other things that may affect the absorption?

We absorb nutrients from our intestinal tract. So those with bowel problems may have a problem absorbing nutrients efficiently. Taking a digestive enzyme can help with this.

Some people find they absorb their mineral supplements better if they have them with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 100ml of tepid water and swallow the mineral supplement with this liquid.

What about tannin and absorption?

Another very important factor with regard to absorption is that the tannin and caffeine in foods and beverages can also interfere with nutrient absorption ability. So this includes normal tea, green tea, herb teas which contain green leaves like peppermint, lemon verbena, raspberry leaf etc, chocolate and anything that contains cocoa, as well as red wine and of course coffee and any other beverage that contains caffeine.

If these beverages or foods are consumed for up to 1 hour after having the supplement (or eating your food) they will interfere with the absorption of the nutrients.

Our rule of thumb with taking any nutritional supplement is to keep it well away from these tannin and caffeine rich things.  So don’t have the supplement for ½ an hour before having these beverages or for up to 1 hour afterwards.

Many supplements are also best taken away from a meal, as phytates in cereals and grains can also interfere with their absorption. It is best to get specific advice about the individual supplement and check whether it can be taken at a meal or if it should be taken well afterwards.

Sometimes it may be appropriate to take an individual mineral all by itself, however this is not a usual recommendation.  The co factors in a formulation are usually included for a reason and this reason is probably so you can absorb the main ingredient in the product.   So if in doubt, check it out before taking it.

Leanne James
Founder Ideal Health







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