Magnesium's uses are many and varied. This is not surprising given that it participates in over 300 enzymatic processes throughout the body...more than any other mineral. Most people associate magnesium and sleep, and many take it before bed since one of magnesium's principle actions is to relax our muscles.
Consistent with this magnesium is extremely important for heart health. Whereas calcium is necessary for the heart's contraction, magnesium is needed for its relaxation.
Other metabolic reactions for which magnesium is essential include virtually all aspects of our energy production. (1) For example, contraction of the heart muscle, which requires energy 24/7.
Magnesium is crucial for nervous health as it acts as a natural calcium-channel blocker to prevent excess influx of calcium into cells, which can be toxic, particularly for nerve cells when, for example, we undergo intense emotional stress. It also helps produce glutathione, vital for detoxification, mitochondrial function, and immunity.
Magnesium plays vital roles in insulin function, making it a key consideration for blood sugar issues, including diabetes. It is necessary for the normal structure of our bones and cell membranes… and the list goes on and on.
What the magnesium is bound to is important!
Magnesium can be combined (chelated) with several different molecules. So, what forms did we choose for our Optimized Magnesium Formula, and why?
Magnesium bisglycinate was our first consideration, since it is very highly absorbed. The amino acid glycine in this form is also used by the liver in its detoxification pathways, in which magnesium is involved.
Our next consideration was magnesium citrate. Even though it is not quite as well absorbed as the bisglycinate form, the citrate molecule also participates directly in our energy production, in what is sometimes called the Citrate Cycle. Along with magnesium, this produces energy in the form of ATP in our mitochondria. The citrate form can enhance this benefit.
Citrate is also used by the kidneys to buffer and excrete excess metabolic acid, and along with magnesium, helps alkalinize the body. So for numerous reasons magnesium citrate was chosen to broaden the benefits of the formula.
Why did we include Magnesium Oxide?
Yet, if our magnesium levels are so critical, why then would we have added 50mg of magnesium oxide, as it the least absorbed of the 3 forms?
The answer is related to what I see as a major misconception that has developed within the nutritional mindset of the public, i.e. that absorbing more is always better, while ignoring the profound effects on the body that are exerted from within the gut itself. When it comes to magnesium, one of its critical functions is that of bowel activation and clearance…something sadly lacking in the constipated colons of so many. And to be clear, I am not just talking about a stool-softening effect, but also the effect of bowel activation on our nervous system…specifically on our vagus nerve, which is hard wired into our colon, among many other organs.
You see when the vagus nerve gets stimulated, as it does when our colon is activated by filling or water influx, and we have to maintain muscular tone… and particularly when the contents are then released, (and you get that “Ahhhh” feeling of relief and satisfaction), one of the events that is occurring is that the vagus nerve is exerting profound anti-inflammatory and relaxing effects throughout the body by eliciting the systemic release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. (2,3,4,5,6)
So by activating and clearing the colon, this not only eliminate wastes, taking a burden off the gut and liver, it also “optimizes” and increases the anti-inflammatory, relaxation effect on the body that is gleaned through the vagus nerve.
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The relief and relaxation you feel when you empty a bursting bladder is also tied into this phenomenon, and magnesium helps the smooth muscle in your bladder stay relaxed so it can hold more…something to consider if you suffer from incontinence. (7)
The profound influence of gut function, and the anti-inflammatory effects of stimulating the vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system are all things to watch develop as they are further elucidated in the upcoming decade. Always doing our best to stay on the cutting edge of nutritional strategies for living better!