Getting enough magnesium is a problem for most people in industrial societies, where soil depletion and food processing have stripped minerals, especially magnesium, from our food; and magnesium deficiency is showing up in all kinds of health problems, from heart disease to neurological and emotional problems, from chronic fatigue to diabetes, and more.
But taking too much magnesium—or more specifically, taking more magnesium than you can absorb—can be a problem too.
Magnesium that the body can’t absorb causes an osmotic pressure in the bowel that stimulates bowel movement, decreasing “transit time” (the time it takes food to travel from the mouth out through the anus) and causing loose stools and/or diarrhea. When food is rushed through the gut in this way, there isn’t enough time for the intestines to absorb nutrients adequately.
Such was the case for a chemistry professor who consulted renowned alternative health doctor Dr. Jonathan V. Wright due to low energy. This health-conscious gentleman ate well and took plenty of supplements, but tests showed he was deficient in many nutrients, particularly minerals. Further tests revealed that even though he didn’t have loose stools or diarrhea, he wasn’t absorbing nutrients well due to what the British call “intestinal hurry,” caused by taking 500 mg of supplemental magnesium daily.
Now 500 mg of supplementary magnesium daily isn’t an unusually high amount. In fact the most commonly recommended dosage is 200-600 mg and sometimes 1,000 mg or more a day. But many people who need this much can’t absorb it, especially if it’s taken all at one time.
Dividing doses throughout the day and taking the better absorbed forms can help. Absorption will also be hampered by deficiencies in either vitamin D or vitamin B6, and by insulin resistance. But even when these problems are addressed, absorption problems can persist.
Health practitioners use various methods to help their clients absorb magnesium better: sublingual and topical formulations, homeopathic remedies, and even IV magnesium. But Raymond Francis’ friend Dr. Russell Jaffe came up with an ingenious solution that we recommend.
Dr. Jaffe observed that cellular absorption of magnesium depends on having good energy production in your mitochondria (the “energy factories” of the cell). Many people lack this cellular energy for various reasons. One of the most common is, ironically, that they’re deficient in magnesium!!
Magnesium plays many roles in cellular energy production. So, very often the people who are most deficient and need magnesium the most are unable to absorb it well.
However energy isn’t needed if magnesium is taken with a special form of choline, an essential nutrient found in many foods. That form is choline citrate. They can’t be combined in one pill, but taking choline citrate along with magnesium does the job. Choline has many other beneficial roles in the body. It boosts energy, helps the liver detoxify, and it is essential for good nerve transmission and memory functions.
- Wright JV. Clinical Tip 80: Magnesium: Are you getting too much of a good thing? Dr. Jonathan Wright’s Nutrition & Healing. December 2000; 7(12):5.
- Want to test your transit time? Take either 1 gram of charcoal (available in most health food and drug stores) or eat 3-4 whole beets recording the exact time. When your stool changes color (black for charcoal; reddish for beets), calculate how many hours have passed: that’s your transit time. The ideal is 12-18 hours.