Magnesium Supplements – What You Swallow Is Not Always What You Get

Magnesium Supplements

Market research suggests that at least 1 in 5 magnesium supplement users in Australia and almost 1 in 6 in New Zealand have suffered side effects – with the most common being an upset stomach.

‘High absorption’ is considered one of the most important factors for people when buying magnesium supplements.

“There are lots of reasons why you need to keep your magnesium intake up,” claims dietician Anthony Glanville. “Most people tend to know magnesium is good for preventing muscle cramps or spasms, but it’s not just important for elite athletes.

It actually assists with over 300 biochemical processes in the body. Basically that means it’s vital for energy production, sleep enhancement, blood pressure and bone development.

So it can actually help with overall general wellbeing, stress or anxiety, migraines and perhaps even prevent high blood pressure and osteoporosis.”

“It’s best to take your magnesium in whole foods such as fish, dark-green leafy vegetables like spinach, nuts and whole grains.

Due to today’s modern eating practices with more processed foods that are stripped of their nutrition, it can be relatively easy to become mildly deficient in magnesium and sometimes supplements are needed.

This can be even more true if you are on medication which can deplete your levels like anti-indigestion drugs called proton pump inhibitors, or have gastrointestinal issues and may not be able to absorb foods nutrients that well,” continued Mr Glanville.

“Processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, stress, ageing, illness or heavy periods, can also lower your levels.”

Research suggests that at least one third of people over 18 don’t get their recommended daily intake of magnesium.[i]Adults require about 300 to 400 milligrams a day.

“Women in particular can often need magnesium supplementation to cover extra demand from their bodies at different life stages.

For example, it can assist with pre-menstrual syndrome; can help to relax muscles during pregnancy; and may help to ease menopausal symptoms such as bone loss and irritability,” says Mr Glanville.

It is also essential for those into fitness, to help with recovery and muscle cramps, but just as important for older Australians who can be particularly vulnerable to low magnesium status due to aging, stress and disease.

“One of the major reasons I recommend a magnesium supplement to my clients is help with sleep. Nearly 50% of older adults have insomnia, with difficulty in getting to sleep, early awakening, or feeling unrefreshed on waking.

There is some evidence that magnesium supplementation can assist with this.”

“It’s important to know though, that high dose magnesium supplements are not always the best option and can result in gastrointestinal side effects such as upset stomachs and diarrhoea,” continued Mr Glanville.

Hartley Atkinson, scientist and researcher who is also CEO of AFT Pharmaceuticals agrees. “What you swallow is not always what you get with magnesium supplements and it can be very confusing for consumers.

It’s a waste of time, money and effort to take more than you need and having too much magnesium in your gut can cause intestinal upset.”

Interestingly, recent market research showed that ‘high absorption’ is considered one of the most important claims for people considering buying magnesium supplements.

“You need to choose a slow release supplement. That’s because most magnesium absorption occurs a long way from the stomach at the end of the small bowel and you don’t want too much magnesium passing down at any one time.” continued Atkinson.

“Our bodies are also quite good at self regulating the amount of magnesium they require and only absorb what they need, which again is an argument for choosing a lower dose.”

“That means it’s about percentage absorption rather than the dose it says on the label, which is why we’ve chosen Chronomag® technology for our Magnesium Opti-Tabs,” says  Atkinson.

“The Chronomag® technology in Magnesium Opti-Tabs can achieve similar bioavailability to a dose three times as high[ii] because it is slowly and continuously released from the stomach and well absorbed from the small bowel.”

Whilst “continuous release” did not rank highly with supplement consumers before this was explained, it became a primary motivator to purchase after they understood the associated benefits.

“The biggest reason people stop magnesium supplements is tummy upsets. As a dietician, I’m certainly far more comfortable with a lower dose of supplement, especially if it is absorbed more efficiently,’ finished Anthony Glanville.

In fact, the market research suggests that at least 1 in 5 magnesium supplement users in Australia and almost 1 in 6 in New Zealand have suffered side effects – with the most common being an upset stomach.

So, not surprisingly, ‘gentle on the tummy’ also ranked highly as an important benefit for people buying supplements.

Now available from all good pharmacies, Magnesium Opti-Tabs provides welcome relief for those looking for a magnesium supplement with optimal absorption whilst being gentle on the stomach.

Using patented Chronomag®technology Magnesium Opti-Tabs slowly and continuously releases magnesium for:

  • Optimal absorption
  • High bioavailability
  • Minimised side effects – Gentle on the stomach

Each tablet contains magnesium (as chloride) 50mgs. Note: this product contains lactose.

About Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential element involved in a wide-range of cellular processes within the body that:

  • Aids or assists in the prevention of muscular cramps and spasms.
  • Aids, assists or helps in the maintenance of general well-being.
  • Helps relieve nervous tension, stress and mild anxiety.
  • May assist in the management of pre-menstrual tension/syndrome.

Low levels of magnesium can be a contributing factor in the development of

  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes mellitus type 2,
  • Osteoporosis,
  • Migraines

There are four main variables to consider with magnesium supplements:

  • Bioavailability – which basically refers to the degree or rate a supplement is absorbed. It’s a waste of time, money and effort to take more than you need;
  • Speed of release from the stomach – slower is better. That’s because most of the absorption occurs at the end of the small bowel – the ileum – so the magnesium has to get there to work.

But here the dose matters because if you have too much magnesium travelling through the small bowel, it can cause more intestinal upset.

The paradox is that lower dose magnesium has a higher percentage absorption than larger doses, as long as you can control the rate that the tablet releases magnesium in the stomach and then small intestine;

  • The carrier – generally magnesium is more absorbable if it is bound to a naturally absorbed nutrient like amino acids or proteins;
  • The patient him or herself – because the body self regulates how much magnesium it will absorb according to its needs. If a person is low in magnesium, the kidneys excrete less.

Taking more does not mean you will absorb more. You just excrete more and subject yourself to side effects.

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[i]  Gröber U et al, Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients. 2015 Sep; 7(9): 8199–8226.

[ii] Graham et al, Metabolism 1960.

[iii] Futurescape Global Ltd. Project Maggie. Exploring the market opportunity for a new magnesium supplement. September 2017. Research sponsored by AFT Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd. Data on file.

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