Magnesium is an important mineral in your body that can help ease the transition to a keto diet. Check out our article to learn more about how magnesium and the keto diet work together.
What is Magnesium and What Does it Do?
Magnesium is a mineral that plays a vital role in the health of the body. Magnesium acts as a cofactor for numerous enzymatic reactions and is essential for many physiological functions. Some of the functions of magnesium include the following:
- Maintaining normal muscle functioning
- Maintaining heart functioning and normalizing heart rate
- Functioning as a cofactor for energy production and protein synthesis
- Regulating blood glucose
- Supporting the immune system functioning
What Happens if You Have Low Magnesium Levels?
When your magnesium levels drop dramatically, you may feel like you have the flu. Be prepared for loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, weakness, constipation, and potentially vomiting. Muscle cramps and midnight thunderbolts are also common with low magnesium levels. You may even feel abnormal heart palpitations.
The elderly, people with Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, people with type 2 diabetes, and people taking certain medications have more difficulty absorbing and utilizing magnesium from the diet.
Chronically low magnesium levels are strongly associated with an increased risk of death from all causes. They also raise your risk for the following diseases:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes
- Migraine headaches
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Hypertension (i.e., high blood pressure), cardiovascular disease, stroke, and sudden cardiac death
How Much Magnesium Do You Need?
In the United States, the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for magnesium is 210-420 mg for adults. However, since magnesium levels are depleted in a ketogenic diet, supplementation of approximately 250-400 mg may be beneficial.
How to Get Magnesium on a Keto Diet
The best and easiest way to increase your magnesium intake for those on a keto diet is to simply eat more whole foods high in minerals, including nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
While legumes and whole grains are high in magnesium, you’ll want to limit these food groups because they’re likely to put you over your daily net carbohydrate intake.
Instead, you’ll want to focus on keto foods like leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, and even dark chocolate – all of which are rich in magnesium and have tons of other health benefits.
Keto Foods High in Magnesium
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and collard greens have high levels of magnesium as well as other minerals. They are an excellent source of fiber, which can help boost your overall health. They are also a low-carb food, making them suitable for keto dieters.
If you want to boost your magnesium levels by eating more magnesium-rich foods, there are keto-friendly foods you can add to your diet that can boost the amount of magnesium you get each day.
Avocados are also high in magnesium. They are known for having high levels of good fats and lots of fiber. Another fatty food that is high in magnesium is fatty fish, such as tuna and salmon. Finally, many nuts and seeds have high magnesium levels as well as a good fat content. Eat plenty of pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, peanuts and chia seeds.
Do Magnesium Dietary Supplements Work?
On top of foods high in manesium and given the significant drawbacks and prevalence of magnesium deficiency, it is worth exploring a magnesium supplement. Magnesium supplements take the guesswork out of reaching your intake goals.
Which Type of Magnesium Supplement is Best for Keto Diet?
There are many forms of magnesium supplements available. Some are more bioavailable than others, which means it is better tolerated in the body and easier to use.
According to some studies, magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate and magnesium chloride are better absorbed in the body than magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfate.
However, other forms, such as magnesium acetyl taurate and magnesium malate, have shown some of the fastest absorption rates and longest lasting effects. That said, data on the bioavailability of each form is still somewhat limited.
Therefore, you’ll want to choose your supplement based on what you want it to do in addition to providing you with magnesium.
Here’s a quick breakdown of which magnesium supplements might work best for absorption, constipation and more:
For High Absorbability:
- Magnesium citrate
- Magnesium glycinate
- Magnesium chloride
- Magnesium citrate
- Magnesium oxide (though is poorly absorbed)
For Relaxation & Muscle Soreness:
- Magnesium citrate
- Magnesium malate
- Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts)
For the Heart:
- Magnesium orotate
- Magnesium taurate
For the Brain:
- Magnesium threonate
For Good Sleep:
- Magnesium glycinate
Another way to get magnesium is to use beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) keto supplements. These products contain about 20% of the recommended daily dose of magnesium, as well as other important electrolytes, including potassium, sodium and calcium. BHB salts help you achieve and maintain ketosis and are especially helpful in replenishing your body’s electrolytes, maintaining high energy levels and relieving keto flu symptoms.
Side Effects of Magnesium Supplements?
While different types of magnesium supplements can cause different side effects, in general, too much magnesium (from supplements) can cause side effects such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps and nausea. Do not overdose on magnesium in any single dose. Follow the product label or your doctor’s instructions.
While too much magnesium from supplements can cause side effects, the same is not generally true in food. In other words, an average healthy adult can consume as much magnesium as he or she wants from food.
The Final Word
Magnesium is one of the best supplements for the keto diet. Reach your intake goal and you may face less fatigue, muscle cramps, anxiety and sleep difficulties. Magnesium supplementation may even bypass or lessen the effects of the keto flu.
Talk to your doctor or dietitian about magnesium supplementation before you start experimenting, especially if you take prescription drugs or other medications on a daily basis. When you get the green light, start with magnesium chelate for maximum bioavailability and fewer side effects. You may need to try some according to the breakdown above before you find the right type of magnesium for your body to thrive in ketosis. But the results will be worth the effort.