The first supplement that came to my attention when I started having restless legs was magnesium. At the time, I had no idea how many different variants of magnesium were available. I now know a lot more and have tried a lot in this area. I also made a choice for one of the types and, after thorough testing, arrived at a certain dosage.
However, it has become clear to me from the stories of others that not everyone benefits from the same. Below I will therefore provide a summary of what I have found online in this area in recent years, in the hope that it will help you in your personal quest.
What is magnesium
Magnesium is a mineral. You need it for the formation of bone and muscles, among other things. It also plays a role in the proper functioning of muscles and in the transmission of nerve impulses. For example, the intake of magnesium through food or supplements can help with fatigue, but also muscle cramps and restless legs. Magnesium also has a calming effect and ensures that you can sleep better.
Organizations such as the Nutrition Center are of the opinion that a magnesium deficiency hardly occurs. According to schools such as orthomolecular medicine there often is a deficiency. This is also discussed in the book The Magnesium Miracle from 2007.
A magnesium deficiency can have various causes. One of these is that food contains less magnesium than in the old days. The soil is impoverished by agriculture and fertilizers and that has consequences for the food that is grown on it. Many foods are also processed nowadays, which is unfavorable for the amount of magnesium you consume. On the need side, in certain cases, a higher intake of magnesium may be necessary. This is the case with stress, intensive sports or heavy physical work. Certain conditions can also cause the body to require more magnesium than the recommended daily allowance.
How much of it do you need
According to the Health Council, you need between 300 and 350 milligrams of magnesium per day. The average is slightly higher for a man than for a woman. However, there are also doctors or health experts who indicate that the recommended amount is only just enough, but that a higher dose would be (much) better for optimal health. I do not particularly have an opinion on this, but of course I am interested in the discussion.
If you want to take more than the amount recommended by the Health Council, it is of course wise to first investigate what the side effects could be. Magnesium is known to have a laxative effect. Personally, I have noticed, for example, that my intestines cannot tolerate extra high doses as well. However, I have understood from other fellow sufferers that some of them have much less trouble with this. So this is very personal. In case of heart complaints, it is also advisable to be careful with extra magnesium intake, as long-term use of magnesium can lead to cardiac arrhythmias. When in doubt, please seek the advice of a doctor.
What food is it in
Magnesium can be found in various foods, such as:
• Whole grains
• Seeds and kernels
• Milk products
• Green leafy vegetables
“Regular” tap water contains magnesium, as does mineral water.
So you can certainly also make strategic choices with nutrition for products that contain more magnesium on average. However, magnesium from food is less well absorbed than magnesium from supplements. This is simply because it is difficult for your digestion to “detach” magnesium from the other substances present in the same food. You may also want to take a supplement for that reason.
There is quite a bit out there in the field of magnesium supplements. I will give a brief overview here, because otherwise you will probably no longer see the wood for the trees. I myself have experience with a number of variants, not all with equal success.
Magnesium is offered in different compounds. These can be divided into organic and inorganic. Organic compounds are better absorbed by the body than inorganic ones. The most common types are magnesium citrate (organic) and magnesium oxide (inorganic). In addition to different types, there are of course differences in price, which can of course also be a factor in the choices you make.
Supplements are available in tablets, capsules and powders. Apart from this, there is also magnesium oil. This gives you extra magnesium through the skin. Bath salts with magnesium for a foot bath are another option.
Other magnesium supplements are magnesium taurate, magnesium malate and magnesium aspartate. According to The Magnesium Miracle, magnesium taurate is especially suitable for people with arrhythmias and heart complaints. According to this book, magnesium malate has benefits for people with fibromyalgia and (chronic) fatigue. Magnesium aspartate is good for athletes. Of course, you don’t necessarily have to fall into these target groups to benefit from these types.
There are undoubtedly many more variants than the ones I have mentioned. There may be people in your area who have experience with a specific strain related to their troubled legs who can tell you more about it. Try the magnesium of your choice for a while and then look further. When it comes to the different brands, it can be difficult to figure out which one is best to buy. The differences in price can also be quite large. In my experience, expensive does not necessarily mean better.
I myself have mainly experience with the most common variants: magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate. These are both readily available at drug stores and other health food stores. I ended up with magnesium citrate. Nowadays I partly take this supplement about an hour before going to sleep. A few hours later I take another half a tablet. I have also tried magnesium citrate in a powder. That didn’t really catch on with me.
I tested magnesium oil at a later stage. It is not really advisable to use this oil at night. Smeared body parts become very sticky and you will probably have to change your bed linen in the morning. Applying during the day is of course a possibility. After a while you wash the oil off your legs. You can also use the oil in a bath or for a foot bath. Unfortunately, I did not benefit from magnesium oil, but that does not mean that it is of no use to you.
What kind of magnesium do you choose?