It is extremely common to be deficient in magnesium and difficult to sometimes treat a deficiency! Most of our magnesium is stored in our bones and muscles, which our body pulls from to use for our cells and tissues. If our storage is low, it can take years of supplementation to "fill the tank". Other times, magnesium deficiencies can take a few weeks of supplementation to restore levels. If you are taking magnesium and not seeing improvements, look at the label to see what form of magnesium you are consuming. Magnesium is generally absorbed at a rate of 30-40%, so splitting up dosages can be useful. The Vessel app recommends the Magnesium Glycinate form of Magnesium. It is beneficial for supporting occasional migraines and feelings of anxiety, healthy sleep, & a healthy inflammatory response. Magnesium Glycinate promotes relaxation and healthy stress levels in the body – making it a good choice for pre-bedtime supplementation to support restful sleep.
Absorption is dependent on a variety of factors, including amount of magnesium ingested (inverse relationship - higher single doses translates to a lesser percent absorbed, which means bioavailability increases when magnesium is consumed in multiple low doses), type of magnesium ingested (example glycinate vs oxide), age (inverse relationship to amount of magnesium absorbed), amount of other minerals ingested (other mineral supplementation can often negatively affect magnesium absorption), and diet (protein intake, types of fats & carbohydrates consumed, & the presence of oxalates & phytates in food can all impact magnesium absorption).
Lastly, since magnesium is not stored efficiently in the body and only retained for current bodily demands, the excess will be eliminated - this process takes about 6-7 hours from ingestion to excretion.
Some ways to improve absorption of magnesium include consuming probiotic rich foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, or in a probiotic supplement. This will help to feed good bacteria to your gut and aid in any gut dysbiosis that may be taking place.
Another way is to make sure you are not consuming calcium rich foods/supplements while taking magnesium supplements or consuming magnesium rich foods. Too much calcium can decrease magnesium absorption if they are consumed together. Another nutrient that can impact magnesium absorption is zinc. Studies have shown that high supplementation dosage of zinc around the same time as taking magnesium can inhibit our body's absorption of magnesium. Lastly, Vitamin D deficiency can cause low levels of magnesium. Magnesium plays a huge role in our body's production of Vitamin D. Although we do not currently test for Vitamin D, it is a very common deficiency and can easily go unnoticed because common symptoms include fatigue, muscle cramps, hair loss, old age, bone and back pain.
If there is any underlying gut bacteria imbalance or other nutrient deficiencies and these are fixed, magnesium levels should start to improve within 2-4 weeks. However, everyone is different and deficiencies can take a few months for certain individuals.
This article has been authored by Mikaela Frame and peer reviewed by Lauren Lehmkuhl and Sinead Adedipe.