“According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2000, researchers found 68% of Americans consumed less than the recommended minimum daily intake (400 mg) of magnesium … 19% of Americans consumed less than half of the recommended daily intake,” said Patrick Sullivan Jr., CEO, Jigsaw Health.
This is cause for concern, as magnesium plays a critical role in a wide range of health indications. James C. Hyde, vice president and general manager of Balchem Human Nutrition & Pharma underscored magnesium’s role in over 500 enzyme reactions in the body. “It is essential for nerve and muscle function, and contributes to bone health, energy production, blood sugar regulation, and metabolism of carbohydrates.”
Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps, fatigue, headaches, changes in mood, and difficulty sleeping, he added.
Despite the importance of proper magnesium levels, research consistently shows that people simply aren’t getting the recommended amounts in their diet, observed Samantha Ford, director of new business development for AIDP. “On top of that, the body keeps such tight control over the way magnesium is circulated and stored, deficiency isn’t always easy to spot right away. Supplementing with a good quality magnesium source is such a great way to ensure bases are covered and the body’s needs are met.”
Reasons for Deficiency
Why are so many individuals lacking in this vital nutrient? A clear dynamic at play is the problem of nutritionally deplete diets. “Not getting enough magnesium-rich foods is an obvious factor,” suggested Ms. Ford. “Certain health and lifestyle factors also play a role. For example, people with digestive disorders are at risk because they may have trouble absorbing magnesium. There is a similar risk in people that drink excessive amounts of alcohol. Those that have issues with blood sugar control also tend to have low magnesium status because their body tends to excrete it faster than others.”
Many consumers are seeking natural ways to incorporate magnesium into their diets, but it can be very difficult to do this with food alone, suggested Mr. Sullivan. “Many consumers, upon learning they are most likely magnesium deficient, ask ‘How can I get more magnesium from my food?’” Almonds, he said are ounce for ounce, one of the most magnesium-rich foods. “We recently sent a pound of organic almonds to a laboratory and had them analyze the mineral content. In 1 oz. of organic almonds, there was 71 mg of magnesium. Now, the minimum recommended daily intake according to the FDA is 400 mg of magnesium per day. That means you’d need to eat at least 6 ozs. of almonds per day to reach 400 mg. I love almonds, and I encourage everyone to eat as much magnesium-rich food as possible, but 6 ozs. of almonds a day is nearly 1,000 calories.”
Mr. Hyde pointed to the issues of malnutrition, nutrient malabsorption issues, chronic diarrhea, excessive urination, high blood calcium level, the use of certain medications, and sweating, as factors which may contribute to magnesium deficiency.
Environmental factors are also impacting soil and the minerals provided to food. Mr. Sullivan referenced a landmark study published in 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, which found that “between 1950 and 1999, over-farming and topsoil depletion led to nutrient reductions of up to 38% in 43 of the most common fruits and vegetables.” He suggested that “even if you’re eating a healthy diet, it’s still difficult to get all of the nutrients you need—not just to avoid deficiency, but to live optimally.”
Additionally, he pointed to the use of pharmaceuticals as a potential culprit. “According to pharmacist Suzy Cohen, author of “Drug Muggers,” there are 14 classes of prescription drugs that ‘mug’ your body of magnesium, including blood pressure drugs, acid blockers (PPIs), antacids, antibiotics, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), osteoporosis drugs, and cholesterol-lowering statins, to name but a few.”
Emerging research demonstrating the vast benefits of magnesium supplementation is galvanizing support for the mineral. For instance, new research has indicated a role for magnesium in brain function, mood, anxiety, and stress, Mr. Hyde said.
A 2017 study published in PLoS One (Tarleton EK, et al.) examined 126 adults experiencing mild-to-moderate depression, who were then supplemented with 248 mg of magnesium for six weeks. Participants taking the supplement saw improvement from their depression symptoms relatively quickly, with benefits seen within two weeks.
Additionally, Mr. Hyde pointed to a 2017 study (McCabe D, et al.) suggesting magnesium in combination with vitamin B6 could offer support for women in reducing premenstrual stress.
A recently published human clinical study examining AIDP’s Magtein (magnesium L-threonate), found supplementation for 12 weeks significantly improved memory and cognition in middle-aged and older adults. “These findings were published in the reputable Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease,” explained Ms. Ford. “Ongoing research is investigating the role of Magtein in areas such as attention deficit disorder, sleep, mood, and other aging conditions.”
Pointing to the mineral’s benefits for maternal health, Mr. Hyde cited a 2015 study, which demonstrated the beneficial effects of magnesium supplementation on metabolic status and pregnancy outcomes among women with gestational diabetes. [Asemi Z, et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).
Magnesium also has applications for sports nutrition, Mr. Hyde explained. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Sports Science showed that magnesium improved alactic anaerobic metabolism in professional volleyball players (Setaro L, et al.).
Magnesium is a dietary ingredient that can have issues with bioavailability, so the form of the mineral used in developing a supplement is an essential consideration.
“There are several forms of magnesium out there—some more bioavailable than others,” explained Ms. Ford. “Certain magnesium salts, such as magnesium oxide, have generally poor absorption. For this reason, they are often used in products to treat constipation. Other forms, such as magnesium chloride and magnesium gluconate, have better absorption properties but are not ideal for brain health formulations, because their chemical structure doesn’t allow them to effectively cross the blood-brain barrier.” She stated that AIDP’s Magtein ingredient has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, thus raising the brain’s magnesium levels and positively impacting cognitive function.
Mr. Hyde highlighted the benefits provided by chelated minerals, emphasizing their benefits for tolerability and bioavailability. “For over 60 years, Albion has been perfecting organic mineral amino acid chelates. Chelated minerals are absorbed intact and break apart in the intestinal cells for transport. There are over 100 studies that demonstrate that these chelated minerals are more easily absorbed and cause less gastric upset than inorganic minerals.”
While the form is important, Jigsaw’s Mr. Sullivan suggested delivery also needs to be carefully considered. Because magnesium is hydrophilic, it “draws water like a magnet,” he explained, potentially leading to unwanted side-effects for consumers. “When you flood the GI tract with 400 mg (100% of the RDI) of non-time-released magnesium, water rushes into your bowels, and they can only hold so much for so long. This is why Milk of Magnesia is often prescribed as a laxative—it works by exploiting a side effect of magnesium.” However, he said such laxative products do not offer the health benefits of a magnesium supplement.
MagSRT from Jigsaw Health utilizes a proprietary sustained release technology, which controls the release of active magnesium so absorption can happen more gradually, eliminating unwanted laxative effect.
Opportunities & Growth
While magnesium’s more well-known applications relate to bone health, Ms. Ford suggested that consumers are beginning take note of its benefits for the mind. She suggested the areas of mood, cognition, sleep, and migraine support were emerging areas of interest. “Young and middle-aged consumers are increasingly turning to specialty magnesium supplements to support attention and mental acuity.”
A wider consumer understanding of the mineral’s benefits, along with those magnesium deficient consumers seeking support, will likely propel the market forward.
“According to reports from Nutrition Business Journal, magnesium supplements neared $850 million in 2016, making up over 30% of the mineral market,” cited Ms. Ford. “Sales are projected to grow another $1.2 billion, a 10% CAGR, just over the next two years.” She attributed this growing interest to consumers seeking natural solutions for healthy aging. Aging consumers, she said, “are becoming savvier about the variety of benefits magnesium supplementation has to offer—particularly as it relates to brain health, a category that is booming.”
Mr. Hyde agreed the future is bright for magnesium, pointing to double-digit growth forecasts through 2018. “Consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of maintaining adequate levels of magnesium,” he said. “Magnesium is beneficial for the nutrition and health of men, women, and children of all ages.”