Transdermal Magnesium: The Critical Muscle-Relaxing Nutrient You’re Missing


Magnesium deficiency is something I’ve written about on more than one occasion over the years, and for good reason.

According to the FDA, 60% of the US population is deficient in magnesium - a critical nutrient required for over 300 enzymatic processes in the human body. [1]

I have to confess I have a major problem with these FDA recommendations.

It’s my professional opinion (and one that’s widely shared in the nutrition world) that the levels of magnesium the FDA considers “non-deficient” are woefully low and way below what should be considered “optimal”.

By my definition, close to 85% of the population would qualify as having sub-optimal levels of magnesium.

Getting your body to optimal levels of magnesium and allowing these enzymes can run at full capacity can have profound effects on the health of your nervous and endocrine (hormone) systems.

There’s also some very cool functional applications for magnesium supplementation in acute muscle relaxation and improving sleep. More on this in a bit…

Why You’re Probably Magnesium Deficient

This simple answer to the question on why so many people are magnesium-deficient is “poor diets”, but this doesn’t tell the whole story.

The amount of magnesium found in our foods is ultimately dependent on how much magnesium is in the soil they're grown in, and almost all of our produce today is grown in soil that has been farmed for decades by industrial farming operations and is badly depleted of magnesium and other nutrients.

Farmers use fertilizers to replace the nutrients the plant needs to grow, but this is a far cry from growing plants in truly nutrient-rich healthy soil. As a result, most foods today contain less magnesium and other minerals than they did historically.

What Happens When You’re Magnesium Deficient

As I mentioned above, magnesium is a necessary co-factor for no less than 300 enzyme-driven processes in the body, so it stands to reason that when your magnesium levels are suboptimal, there will be consequences.

  1. Muscle Tension - Every time you think to move a muscle, it’s the movement of calcium and magnesium ions through the membranes in your muscle cells that make this movement happen at it's most basic level.

    When you’re magnesium deficient, you won't have sufficient magnesium ions available in your muscles to allow for complete relaxation of the muscle after a contraction. Calcium accumulates in the cells, keeping the muscles in a semi-contracted state and chronic muscle tension results. [2]

  2. Headaches - As you probably know well, chronic muscle tension will lead to headaches. Beyond this, recent studies have found that magnesium deficiency is also a cause of non-tension migraine headaches. [2][3]

  3. Anxiety + Adrenal Dysfunction - A 2012 study detailed the connection between magnesium deficiency and chronic anxiety that doctors have observed for decades. Dysregulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) is often observed in cases of magnesium deficiency and researchers in this study noted that this HPA axis dysregulation was almost certainly the driver behind magnesium-related anxiety. [4]

  4. Insulin Resistance + Pre-Diabetes - Receptors for the hormone insulin on your muscle and liver cells require magnesium to function properly. Deficiency in magnesium will greatly reduce the sensitivity of your cells to this hormone. This increases risk for clinical “insulin resistance”, otherwise known as pre-diabetes. [5]

  5. Poor Sleep Quality - When the muscles are unable to relax completely and the adrenals are in a state of dysregulation, poor sleep quality is sure to result. It’s no surprise that this is one of the most common consequences of magnesium deficiency observed by physicians. [2]

Oral Magnesium or Transdermal?

The traditional way to address magnesium deficiency is through taking oral magnesium supplements.

While effective, there are limitations to this strategy. To fully address deficiency, magnesium needs to be delivered deep into muscle tissues throughout the body. While oral magnesium supplementation will achieve this eventually, it is quite slow, particularly when compared to transdermal supplementation.

I do still take an oral magnesium supplement daily, as I believe the absolute best strategy is to supplement both orally and transdermally. If you do take an oral supplement, choose one that is in chelated form (like magnesium glycinate) for maximum absorbability.

Why Transdermal Magnesium?

If you choose only one type of magnesium supplement, transdermal is unquestionably the way to go. Here’s why:
  1. Superior Absorbability - When magnesium is absorbed via the skin, absorption considerably more efficiently than in the gut, where other nutrients often impair the uptake of magnesium. [6]

  2. Muscle Relaxation - Perhaps the most compelling reason to use magnesium transdermally is the profound muscle relaxation it produces.

    When magnesium is absorbed transdermally, it moves directly into the skin’s dense capillary network. From these dermal capillaries, movement into neighboring muscle tissue is efficient and rapid.

    Whereas oral magnesium takes 45-90 minutes to reach skeletal muscle tissue and generally doesn’t penetrate very deeply, magnesium applied transdermally reaches the skin within minutes and produces a significant relaxing effect in the areas sprayed.

  3. Improve Sleep Quality - Whether you’re aware of it or not - when you can’t sleep, the inability of your muscles to fully relax is playing a major role. 

    Using transdermal magnesium 20 minutes before bed will significantly improve sleep quality.

Transdermal Magnesium: The Options

1. Epsom Salt Bath - This is the classic “old school” route to get transdermal magnesium, and in many ways, still the best.

You will absorb huge amounts of magnesium over the course of a 15-20 minute bath, and because you’re immersed in the magnesium solution, the absorption will be well distributed throughout your body.

The recipe is simple: just dissolve 2-3 cups of epsom salts in a warm (but comfortable) bath and get in. 15-20 minutes is plenty to absorb huge amounts of magnesium into your skin and muscles.

If you’re in need of therapeutic muscle relaxation, an epsom salt bath is easily the best option. Realistically though, it’s not exactly convenient for most of us to prepare a bath and hang out in it for 20 minutes every day. Thankfully there's another option as of a few years ago...

2. Transdermal Magnesium Chloride Sprays - These magnesium spray products are relatively new to the market, and I couldn’t be happier to see them growing in popularity.

Transdermal magnesium sprays allow one to experience much of the absorption and muscle-relaxation benefits of epsom salt baths, but in an infinitely more convenient form.

At this point I’ve tried most of the transdermal magnesium products available, and the one I'm most sold on is a product from Activation Products called EASE Magnesium.

Here's why: For a transdermal magnesium product to be fully effective, the magnesium must be fully infused - to the single-ion level - into the solution, otherwise it will simply sit on your skin and not absorb. This is what I believe sets this product apart.

Activation uses a more sophisticated and time-intensive infusion process to ensure the magnesium is completely infused in the aqueous solution.

The difference is significant, and the muscle relaxation produced by EASE is noticeably greater than with other magnesium spray products.

I use about 40 sprays of EASE Magnesium on my shoulders chest and neck (the muscles where I hold the most tension) about 15 minutes before bed and the effect on time-to-sleep and sleep quality is profound.

=>Click Here to learn more about EASE Magnesium Spray. If you deal with headaches, anxiety, muscle tension or poor sleep quality, this product can be truly life changing.

Stay Synchro,

Graham Ryan

Looking For More On Supplementation?  Check out:

Top 3 Critical Vitamin + Mineral Supplements (Supplementation Series - Part 2 of 3)

Fixing Your Nutrient Deficiencies (Supplementation Series - Part 3 of 3)

Power Your Brain with Creatine Supplementation

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References

[1] http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=15672

[2] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/#en3

[3] http://cep.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/12/22/0333102414564891.abstract

[4] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028390811003054

[5] http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/37/2/419.short

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Why Coconut Butter Is The New Brain-Boosting Breakfast Trend

We’ve all heard the mantra repeated countless times: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”.

While I agree with this 100%, I also know that the breakfast most people eat on a daily basis is disastrous for their energy levels, body composition and - most significantly - brain function.

Not that it’s their fault. The dietary recommendations given to us by doctors and nutritionists the past few decades look woefully misguided in light of what we now know about how different types of nutrients affect the body and brain over time.

The Problem With Traditional Breakfasts: Carbohydrates

Breakfast in the US and other western countries is a mess.

When you think of the quintessential breakfast foods, what comes to mind? Bagels, toast, cereal, donuts, pastries and the like.

What do all of these foods have in common? They’re all loaded with quick-digesting, simple carbohydrates.

After you eat a bowl of cereal, for example, your body goes to work at converting that cereal into sugar so it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Within 20 minutes, the carbohydrates in that cereal start to hit your bloodstream in the form of the glucose (simple sugar).

Sometime within the following hour, the bulk of the carbohydrates from that cereal will have been converted into glucose and your blood sugar will hit a peak.

At this point, all is well with the body and brain - both have adequate fuel from all the glucose in your bloodstream and your brain is likely working pretty well. It’s what happens next that creates so many problems…

Your Brain On Sugar (and Insulin)

As soon as your gut starts sending sending glucose into your bloodstream, your body wants to store that sugar (energy) for future use, and insulin is the hormone to do the job.

The pancreas starts pumping out insulin and as it circulates around your body, it instructs cells in your liver and muscles to start taking in the glucose and storing it (usually as fat).

As soon as sugar storage catches up with the rate at which glucose is entering the bloodstream from the gut, blood sugar begins to fall...dramatically.

Your brain and body have effectively been on a “sugar high” since you ate that cereal, but now the energy from the cereal is gone and it’s time for reality to set in.

When your blood sugar drops, your brain no longer has the energy it needs to operate at full capacity, so your brain performance declines dramatically. Have you become accustomed to mid-morning brain fog? That’s the feeling of your brain literally running out of energy.

The body knows it’s running out of energy so, naturally, it tries to address the situation. The hormone cortisol is released from the adrenals and as it circulates the body, it instructs the muscle cells to release sugar back into the bloodstream until brain has the energy it needs to function and is no longer at risk of shutting down.

If cortisol sounds familiar, I’ll remind you where you might have heard of it before. Cortisol is best known as the “stress hormone”. That moodiness and irritability that you feel when your blood sugar is low? Yep that’s all the cortisol pumping through your system.

The worst part about this vicious blood sugar peak-and-crash cycle is that once you start, it’s very hard to get things back to equilibrium - your metabolism is effectively locked-in to cycles of dramatic blood sugar and hormone fluctuations for the rest of the day.

Eating a “balanced breakfast” that includes significant proteins and fats will reduce the severity of these cycles somewhat, but it will by no means eliminate them.

As long as there is a significant amount of carbohydrate in your breakfast, you can expect a day of blood sugar fluctuations - and the diminished brain function that results.

Coconut Oil and MCT’s: The Smarter Breakfast

Fortunately, there’s a smarter way to fuel the body and brain in the morning.

Carbs are “cheap energy” for the body, and when they’re available your body will generally use them preferentially. When the body is without a carbs for a sustained period, however, there is a backup fuel source it will turn to: ketones.

Ketones are an energy source created when the liver breaks down certain kinds of fats, namely medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) and short-chain fatty acids like butyrate.

The reality is, almost everybody’s body switches over to using ketones for energy at least once each day...during sleep. Because it’s been anywhere from 10 to 14 hours since you ate dinner and any carbs you ate are long gone, your body has long switched over to running on ketones by the time you wake up in the morning.

If you keep your body and brain running on ketones past breakfast, the benefits to mental performance, mood and overall energy levels are profound.

So how does one keep the body using ketones instead of carbs?

The best thing we can do is eat foods comprised almost entirely of MCT’s and the short-chain fatty acids that your body can easily convert into ketones for energy.

Which are the foods richest in these incredibly beneficial fats? Coconut oil, butter and ghee are easily the richest sources of MCT’s and short chain fatty acids out there.

You can certainly eat these plain and experience all the benefits of supporting your body’s ketone metabolism, but I have a better (and more delicious) solution for you. More on that in a bit...

Your Brain On Fats (and Ketones)

The benefits that come from training your body to use ketones for energy are nothing short of remarkable.

Increased energy, a sharper memory, improved mood and a generally better-working brain are all common when people start using a MCT-based breakfast.

Fats and ketones are simply a much, much more stable source of energy for the brain.

This allows your brain to escape the dramatic cycles of blood sugar spikes and crashes - and the corresponding hormone fluctuations - that a carb-dominated breakfast guarantees. The body and brain thrive in these more stable conditions.

As impressive as these benefits are, the benefits are even more profound for folks with aging brains.

Several studies have shown that MCT’s and short-chain fatty acids produce significant improvements in memory and cognition for adults suffering from Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. [1][2][3]

Additionally, a 2014 study showed that fueling your brain with fats has significant neuroprotective effects, regardless of age. [6]

Your Body On MCT’s and Ketones (Burn Body Fat!)

It’s not just the brain that benefits from MCT’s and ketones.

A recent study showed that supplementation with coconut oil produced reductions in body fat, BMI and waistline circumference. [7]

This makes coconut oil one of the few foods shown to reduce fat in the abdominal region that is particularly troubling for cardiac health. 

A Healthier, Smarter Breakfast

To get the maximum benefit from MCT’s and ketone metabolism, it’s important not only to get enough of these healthy fats, but also to minimize the amount of carbohydrate you consume. (even a small piece of fruit will raise blood sugar and stop ketone metabolism)

Coconut oil, butter and ghee are all excellent sources, but perhaps not the most appetizing breakfast on their own.

This is why Synchro Manna is so brilliant. This artisan raw chocolate coconut butter is loaded with the MCT’s that will encourage your body to continue using ketones as energy.

The little carbohydrate it does contain is almost entirely dietary fiber - meaning not only will Manna not raise your blood sugar, but the fiber will also keep you better satiated than coconut oil alone.

The past few years I’ve been eating 4-5 tablespoons of Synchro Manna for breakfast every day. Occasionally I’ll also have an egg or two, but most days I only have the coconut butter. Does it get any simpler than that?

This will keep me full, energized and my brain working at full speed until well past normal lunch time. On the rare occasion I do get hungry, I simply have another spoonful of Manna and I’m satisfied for another couple hours.

I can’t recommend highly enough to give this (delicious) breakfast strategy a try for at least a week. If it works as well for you as it does for me and tens of thousands of others, you’ll thank me later.

=>Click Here to learn more about Synchro Manna.

Stay Synchro,

     Graham Ryan

     

Looking For More On Enhancing Mental Performance?

5 Tips To Hack Your Way To Better Sleep

Power Your Brain with Creatine Supplementation

The Truth About Caffeine and Coffee

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References

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15123336

[2] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1933721308000937

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2604900/

[4] http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1743-7075-6-31.pdf

[5] http://www.fasebj.org/content/29/1_Supplement/LB291.short

[6] http://www.jlr.org/content/55/12/2450.short

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19437058

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