Learn about the importance of magnesium for Lyme disease patients, its benefits, and the different types of magnesium supplements available. Find out how to manage magnesium deficiencies and improve your overall health.
Given our highly processed, on-the-go diets, many Americans suffer from vitamin, mineral and nutrient deficiencies. One important one is magnesium. While this vitamin plays a crucial role in human health, there is a high prevalence of magnesium deficiency in the U.S. This deficiency is especially important to manage if you’re suffering from health conditions like Lyme or other tick-borne diseases.
How Lyme Disease Can Affect Nutrition
Lyme is an inflammatory disease that affects the immune system. In addition to battling the infection itself, many patients struggle with symptoms like ongoing fatigue, sleep disorders, and mood disorders. Ongoing infection can impact the whole body, sometimes making it difficult to adequately absorb nutrients. Deficiencies that were present before or are present as a result of Lyme can exacerbate symptoms.
What is Magnesium and Why Is It Important?
Magnesium helps many bodily processes including regulating muscle and nerve function, stabilizing blood sugar levels, stabilizing blood pressure, and making bone, DNA, and protein.[i]
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements, magnesium deficiency can cause:
- Loss of appetite
Serious magnesium deficiency can lead to:
- Muscle cramps
- Personality changes
Challenges in Obtaining Sufficient Magnesium
Often, we can get vitamins and minerals through a healthy diet, but a decline in mineral levels in modern food makes it hard to get enough of this important vitamin. Complex illnesses can also make magnesium difficult to absorb.
Benefits of Magnesium Intake
While magnesium is important for everyone, for Lyme disease patients it can particularly offer improved energy levels, positive effects on mood and sleep, and potential enhancement of immune function.
According to the NIH, some magnesium can be attained through foods such as:
- Whole grains
- Green leafy vegetables
- Fortified breakfast cereals and other fortified foods
- Milk, yogurt, and some other milk products
However, if you are not getting enough magnesium through diet alone, your Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) may recommend taking a magnesium supplement. It is very important to discuss with your doctor whether you need a supplement and what kind and how much you should take. There are different types of magnesium, and what’s right for one person may not be right for another.
Types of Supplemental Magnesium
There are different benefits to different types of magnesium.
Magnesium aspartate is good for overall health, particularly for cellular energy. This type is less common, so it is often found in combination supplements with other types of magnesium.
This is a drinkable form of magnesium that can be easier than taking a pill.
Magnesium citrate can be helpful for digestive issues—it has a laxative effect so it can prevent constipation—and for migraines. Because this is a lower cost magnesium, it is often found in low quality supplements mixed with unnecessary binders and additives.
Magnesium chloride can be absorbed through the skin; it is a salt form often found in liquid and topical applications like lotion or oil spray. This type of application helps you avoid stomach upset that may come with oral magnesium supplements.
Magnesium glycinate and magnesium bisglycinate
Magnesium glycinate is magnesium combined with glycine. Magnesium glycinate and bisglycinate are calming and can help with sleep and with nervous system regulation. Magnesium glycinate is absorbed well and does not have a bad laxative effect.
Magnesium L-threonate can help with cognitive issues, focus, and mood, because it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Magnesium lysinate helps with good gastric health.
Magnesium malate helps with energy levels and fatigue. It is bound to malic acid, which plays a role in energy production in the body.
Magnesium orotate can be good for cardiovascular health.
Magnesium oxide can be helpful with constipation, though it can be difficult on the digestive system. It is best when paired with another type of magnesium. Magnesium oxide is available as an over-the-counter laxative. It is lower cost and therefore is sometimes found in lower quality supplements.
Magnesium sulfate is more commonly known as Epsom salts, which help induce calmness and muscle relaxation. They are usually used in a bath or soak and can help mineralize the body.
Magnesium taurate can be calming because it chelates with the amino acid taurine. It can also support cardiovascular health.
Adverse Effect of Magnesium
Taking too much magnesium can have adverse health effects. According to the NIH, high intake of magnesium can cause gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping, while toxic levels can lead to arrythmia and cardiac arrest. Magnesium can also interact with medications like antibiotics, which are often used in Lyme disease treatment. Therefore, it’s imperative that you talk to your doctor about whether you should take magnesium, what type you should take, and how much.