Body Butter for Increasing Magnesium Levels
Magnesium is an essential nutrient- meaning the body doesn't produce it on it's own, and it must be either taken in via supplements, food sources, or absorbed transdermally. Magnesium is involved in over 300 essential metabolic reactions (1). These range from the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats to produce energy via ATP (which occurs in almost every cell in the body), to synthesizing essential biomolecules such as glutathione, to cell migration that affects wound healing (1). Magnesium deficiency is extremely common, and one of the first physical signs of magnesium deficiency is cramps in the feet and legs (this was just one symptom I was experiencing!). Over time, magnesium deficiency can also lead to decreased calcium levels, and severe deficiency can mean neurological and muscular spasms as well as nausea, vomiting, and changes in personality (1). Due to it's effects on calcium levels, individuals with insufficient magnesium levels are also at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and hypertension (1). Individuals with Type 1 and 2 Diabetes, ADHD, Autism, and recurrent migraine headaches are at higher risk for magnesium deficiency for a variety of reason (1,2), so these populations may need extra magnesium supplementation as well. Women who experience symptoms of PMS or PMDD such as painful menstrual cramps, irritability, insomnia, and fatigue are frequently deficient in magnesium (2). A 2002 Cochrane Review found that magnesium was superior to placebo in reducing these symptoms, most likely through the inhibition of prostaglandin (2). One small study even showed a significant decrease in pain related to fibromyalgia when daily transdermal application of magnesium was implemented (3).
Magnesium can be found in a variety of food sources. Dark leafy greens are good sources of magnesium as it is a part of chlorophyll (1). Unrefined grains like oat bran and brown rice also contain higher levels, as do nuts and seeds. Supplements are another option for magnesium intake, especially since much of our food supply is grown in nutrient deleted soil and may not contain as much magnesium as we would hope. Magnesium supplements can be found as oxides, gluconates, chlorides, citrate salts, and and amino acid chelates. The most common sign of taking in too much magnesium is diarrhea, which means magnesium also makes a great natural laxative when taken internally. Magnesium citrate is the recommended form for this use. If you're trying to avoid gastrointestinal issues when taking magnesium internally, glycinate seems to be the least irritating in that respect (2).
Magnesium, unlike many other nutrients, can also be absorbed transdermally. Transdermal means through the skin. One study (4) showed that broad body surfaces, such as arms, legs, chest, and back, absorbed over 64% of body products applied to them (learn more about what your body absorbs in our Bodycare Basics blogpost). In fact, several studies show that transdermal magnesium absorption is up to 5 times more effective than ingesting supplements internally (5). Another study showed that the effect on serum levels was almost immediate (6).
This is great news for people like me who already take a ton of supplements each day. When I learned how low my magnesium levels were, I wanted a long term solution that would be easy to integrate into my daily routine. In my nutrition practice I often recommend magnesium chloride spray to clients experiencing symptoms of magnesium deficiency, so I knew I could integrate this same effect into a luxurious Body Butter as well. Just a few tweaks to the original recipe yielded an even fluffier consistency than before. For those perhaps looking only for therapeutic value of increasing magnesium levels, the Naked (unscented) Body Butter is a perfect solution. And since Uplift and Bliss were already so popular, we went ahead and added magnesium to those as well.
- An Evidence Based Approach to Vitamins and Minerals. Higdon, J and Drake, V. 2nd Edition, 2012. Pgs 169-176.
- Integrative Medicine. Rakel, David. 3rd Edition 2012. Pgs 46, 213, 270, 293.
- Effects of transdermal magnesium chloride on quality of life for patients with fibromyalgia: a feasibility study – Engen D.J, McAllister S.J., Whipple M.O., Cha S.S., Dion L-J., Vincent A., Bauer B.A., Wahner-Roedler D.L. – Journal of Integrative Medicine Editorial Office.
- Brown et al. The role of skin absorption as a route of exposure for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water. Am J Public Health. 1984 May; 74(5): 479–484.
- A pilot study to determine the impact of transdermal magnesium treatment on serum levels and whole body CaMg ratios – Watkins, K & Josling, PD – The Nutrition Practitioner, Spring 2010.
- In vitro transdermal delivery of magnesium – Dr Heard and Dr Houston – Cardiff University Pharmacy and Pharmacology Department 2010.