The Importance of Magnesium in a Ketogenic Diet

 

Supplementing with magnesium can be very important while doing a ketogenic diet.

Electrolytes, in general, can become depleted during a keto diet.  This happens because excess ketones in the blood are eliminated in the urine, and with them go water and electrolytes. 

So, those will need to be replaced.  That can easily be done with salt water. 

I know.  It sounds strange.  But when your body is depleted of electrolytes, salt water is suddenly very refreshing.

I make a homemade version of electrolyte replenishing drink with lemon that really IS refreshing.  Here’s the recipe:

Electrolyte Replenishing Drink

For my inexpensive and easy homemade electrolyte replenishing drink, click here to read “Ketogenic Diet Rules for Beginners”

While this drink is a good general electrolyte replenisher, most of us will need extra magnesium.  Some people are more susceptible to depletion because of diseases affecting GI absorption, liver issues, poor diet, or nutrient depleted food.

Magnesium

Magnesium is necessary for healthy function of cells in every part of our body:

  • Avocado
  • Leafy greens (spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard, kale, broccoli, etc.)
  • Squash (yellow summer squash, zucchini, spaghetti squash)
  • Okra
  • Organic grass-fed raw milk and all its by-products
  • Fatty fish
  • DARK CHOCOLATE!
  • RDA‘s:

    Age             Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
    Birth to 6 mos 30 mg 30 mg    
    7–12 months 75 mg 75 mg    
    1–3 years 80 mg 80 mg    
    4–8 years 130 mg 130 mg    
    9–13 years 240 mg 240 mg    
    14–18 years 410 mg 360 mg  400 mg 360 mg
    19–30 years 400 mg 310 mg 350 mg 310 mg
    31–50 years 420 mg 320 mg 360 mg   320 mg
    51+ years 420 mg 320 mg    

    Supplementation

    Supplementation can cause diarrhea in 20% of those who take it.  Some types will cause this more than others.

    MAGNESIUM OXIDE  The form in Milk of Magnesia.  Can be taken as a supplement, but the main purpose is to relieve constipation so, it will cause loose stools.

    MAGNESIUM CITRATE Can cause diarrhea at higher doses.  I’ve been using one by the brand name “Natural Calm”.   You can get it at health food stores, but it is cheaper on line.

    Even though it can cause diarrhea for those not accustomed to it, it comes in an effervescent powder which can be easily adjusted because of its powder form.  Start low, and go slow as you build up a tolerance which will allow you to take more.

    MAGNESIUM GLYCINATE   Also highly absorbable and less likely to cause diarrhea than some others.

    MAGNESIUM THREONATE   A newer form of magnesium attached to an L-threonate molecule.  L-threonate is a metabolite of vitamin C.  Research on L-threonate shows that it has the ability to increase mineral absorption.

    Topically Applied Magnesium “Oil”

    Magnesium chloride “oil”, which isn’t really an oil but more of a slurry made with water, are water soluble ions.

    In order for anything to be absorbed through the skin, it should be more oil or fat soluble than water soluble.

    The more fat-soluble a substance is, the more topical absorption it will have.  The more water soluble it is, the less absorption it will have.

    This is because the skin’s sebaceous glands secrete oil into the dermal layers of skin.  As we learned in high-school chemistry, “like dissolves like”.  That is, like substances dissolve in other like substances.  Anything applied to the skin will absorb to some extent, but the more fat soluble it is, the more absorption it will have.

    This is why we don’t make every medication as a topical patch, cream or ointment—not everything absorbs well enough to make that possible.

    That being said, many who use magnesium salts topically in some form, find relief for their headaches and muscle cramps or restless leg syndrome. 

    So, if topical works for you, use it, but only after getting plenty of magnesium from fresh leafy greens and other magnesium rich foods and taking a supplement under the supervision of your doctor.

    Topical Choices

    MAGNESIUM CHLORIDE OIL:  This is an option for those who have GI or mal-absorption issues.

    It can be used on children and the elderly, or those who have issues with swallowing.

    It is sprayed onto the skin and rubbed in.

    EPSOM SALT (MAGNESIUM SULFATE) BATHS:  Add 2 cups or more of epsom salt to a warm bath.  Soak for 20 to 30 minutes.  Warmth and moisture increases the amount of topical absorption, in general.

    It’s possible that it will also increase mineral absorption in this case.

    Those Who Should Consult Their Physician Before Supplementing:

    Those with:

    • Heart disease/irregular heart rhythm,
    • Diabetes,
    • Kidney disease,
    • Any bowel issues: constipation, nausea/vomiting, colitis, etc.

    There is no substitute for good monitoring.  That goes for blood work which gives important information about magnesium levels, or monitoring blood sugar and ketones while on a keto diet.  For more in depth information on monitoring read Monitoring Your Level of Ketosis and Keto Side Effects”.

    If you would like to begin to learn more about how a ketogenic diet is a hormone driven process and how it can help you lose weight and reverse disease, you can begin by reading “Ketogenic Diet: Healthy or Harmful?”

    Blessings!

    If you think this article would be helpful to others, please Pin It!

    • Maintains healthy mitochondria
    • Protects brain tissue and nerve cells
    • Helps calm NMDA receptor system in people with seizures
    • Is a co-factor in the production of serotonin and melatonin
    • Relaxes both smooth muscle and skeletal muscle
    • Helps nerve cells to conduct electricity by maintaining myelin sheath
    • Protects kidneys
    • Protects cardiovascular system, and much more

    Magnesium is involved in some way, in over 300 biochemical pathways in our bodies.

    So, it is essential that we get enough, and like everything else in life there needs to be some balance.

    Let’s look at who needs it, who doesn’t, and how to monitor our intake.

    At Risk Groups

    People with GI diseases that cause malabsorption issues including: Crohn’s, Celiac, chronic diarrhea, resection or bypass especially of small intestine.

    • Type II Diabetics
    • People with alcohol dependence
    • Those who are on loop diuretics (furosemide) or thiazide diuretics (hydrochlorothiazide aka HCTZ)
    • Older adults

    Most of us become deficient because of a low intake of magnesium rich foods, either because we don’t eat them or because the foods themselves are becoming magnesium deficient.

    In order for a food to be high in magnesium, it has to be grown in soil that is high in magnesium.

    Signs and Symptoms of Deficiency

    • Muscle cramps and twitching.  Could show a sign of excess calcium that is not being balanced by magnesium.
    • Mental health issues.  Observational studies show low magnesium to be linked to depression, anxiety, ADD, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, decreased IQ, apathy, delirium, and more.
    • High blood pressure.  Again, a sign that calcium and magnesium are out of balance.
    • Asthma.
    • Insomnia. 
    • Irregular heart beat or arrhythmia.  Could be a sign that potassium and magnesium are out of balance.
    • Other non-specific symptoms: fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting, headaches, and migraines.
    • Overly high estrogen/progesterone levels.  There seems to be an inverse relationship between magnesium and these sex hormones.  PMS and hard cramping during menstruation can be magnesium deficiency related.
    • Seizure
    • Numbness and tingling in the extremities.
    • Insulin resistance.

    Signs and Symptoms of Toxicity

    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Facial flushing
    • Retention of urine
    • Extreme hypotension (low blood pressure)
    • Irregular heartbeat. 

    The risk of magnesium toxicity increases with impaired renal function or kidney failure because the ability to remove excess magnesium is reduced or lost.

    Monitoring:  Blood Serum Values

    Magnesium        1.8-3.6 mg/dL; 1.5-3.0 mEq/L

    Notice that these values can be reported with different units of measure.  Also, different labs may have slightly different numbers that they will use as the “norm” value.

    Magnesium and a Ketogenic Diet

    Monitoring magnesium levels becomes important for some people on a ketogenic diet.  Since being in ketosis will cause water and electrolyte loss, that can be made much worse in people who are already at risk of magnesium depletion. 

    Keto is being used (along with fasting in some cases) to reverse Type II Diabetes, so magnesium can become very low in those people since diabetics are usually magnesium deficient to begin with.

    Muscle cramps are the usual initial side effect of this depletion.  Increasing magnesium intake is essential!

    The Plan:  Increase Magnesium Intake

    Ideally, we would get all our mineral and vitamin needs through our diet and that’s where we’re going to start, seeing as this is a Plant-Based Diet, and all.  But it won’t always be possible, especially if we need to reverse disease that has already caused depletion.

    Here’s the plan of how we want to increase that magnesium intake most effectively:

    1. Increase daily intake of leafy-green vegetables and other foods that are magnesium rich (see list below)
    2. Take an oral supplement (see below)
    3. Apply topically (also below)

    Keto-Friendly Food Sources of Magnesium

    • Sea weed (spirulina, kelp, eg)
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Sunflower seeds
    • Sesame seeds
    • Almonds
    • Cashews
    • Avocado
    • Leafy greens (spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard, kale, broccoli, etc.)
    • Squash (yellow summer squash, zucchini, spaghetti squash)
    • Okra
    • Organic grass-fed raw milk and all its by-products
    • Fatty fish
    • DARK CHOCOLATE!

    RDA‘s:

    Age             Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
    Birth to 6 mos 30 mg 30 mg    
    7–12 months 75 mg 75 mg    
    1–3 years 80 mg 80 mg    
    4–8 years 130 mg 130 mg    
    9–13 years 240 mg 240 mg    
    14–18 years 410 mg 360 mg  400 mg 360 mg
    19–30 years 400 mg 310 mg 350 mg 310 mg
    31–50 years 420 mg 320 mg 360 mg   320 mg
    51+ years 420 mg 320 mg    

    Supplementation

    Supplementation can cause diarrhea in 20% of those who take it.  Some types will cause this more than others.

    MAGNESIUM OXIDE  The form in Milk of Magnesia.  Can be taken as a supplement, but the main purpose is to relieve constipation so, it will cause loose stools.

    MAGNESIUM CITRATE Can cause diarrhea at higher doses.  I’ve been using one by the brand name “Natural Calm”.   You can get it at health food stores, but it is cheaper on line.

    Even though it can cause diarrhea for those not accustomed to it, it comes in an effervescent powder which can be easily adjusted because of its powder form.  Start low, and go slow as you build up a tolerance which will allow you to take more.

    MAGNESIUM GLYCINATE   Also highly absorbable and less likely to cause diarrhea than some others.

    MAGNESIUM THREONATE   A newer form of magnesium attached to an L-threonate molecule.  L-threonate is a metabolite of vitamin C.  Research on L-threonate shows that it has the ability to increase mineral absorption.

    Topically Applied Magnesium “Oil”

    Magnesium chloride “oil”, which isn’t really an oil but more of a slurry made with water, are water soluble ions.

    In order for anything to be absorbed through the skin, it should be more oil or fat soluble than water soluble.

    The more fat-soluble a substance is, the more topical absorption it will have.  The more water soluble it is, the less absorption it will have.

    This is because the skin’s sebaceous glands secrete oil into the dermal layers of skin.  As we learned in high-school chemistry, “like dissolves like”.  That is, like substances dissolve in other like substances.  Anything applied to the skin will absorb to some extent, but the more fat soluble it is, the more absorption it will have.

    This is why we don’t make every medication as a topical patch, cream or ointment—not everything absorbs well enough to make that possible.

    That being said, many who use magnesium salts topically in some form, find relief for their headaches and muscle cramps or restless leg syndrome. 

    So, if topical works for you, use it, but only after getting plenty of magnesium from fresh leafy greens and other magnesium rich foods and taking a supplement under the supervision of your doctor.

    Topical Choices

    MAGNESIUM CHLORIDE OIL:  This is an option for those who have GI or mal-absorption issues.

    It can be used on children and the elderly, or those who have issues with swallowing.

    It is sprayed onto the skin and rubbed in.

    EPSOM SALT (MAGNESIUM SULFATE) BATHS:  Add 2 cups or more of epsom salt to a warm bath.  Soak for 20 to 30 minutes.  Warmth and moisture increases the amount of topical absorption, in general.

    It’s possible that it will also increase mineral absorption in this case.

    Those Who Should Consult Their Physician Before Supplementing:

    Those with:

    • Heart disease/irregular heart rhythm,
    • Diabetes,
    • Kidney disease,
    • Any bowel issues: constipation, nausea/vomiting, colitis, etc.

    There is no substitute for good monitoring.  That goes for blood work which gives important information about magnesium levels, or monitoring blood sugar and ketones while on a keto diet.  For more in depth information on monitoring read Monitoring Your Level of Ketosis and Keto Side Effects”.

    If you would like to begin to learn more about how a ketogenic diet is a hormone driven process and how it can help you lose weight and reverse disease, you can begin by reading “Ketogenic Diet: Healthy or Harmful?”

    Blessings!

    If you think this article would be helpful to others, please Pin It!

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