Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome and Cortisol Supplements Part 3

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM

Read Part 1 | Part 2

An Overview of Magnesium Supplementation

As an alternative to cortisol supplements magnesium is great.Magnesium is a great alternative to cortisol supplements. Our bodies are designed to obtain magnesium from the food we eat. However, the modern diet that many of us eat is poor in magnesium. Foods such as green, leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are rich in magnesium, and were once part of our staple diet. These days, however, they are often replaced by processed foods that contain little to no magnesium.

Another consideration is the soil. Modern farming practices and man-made fertilizers have depleted soil’s nutrients. This means that any food that is not grown organically has substantially fewer of these nutrients than what our grandparents and great-grandparents used to get.

A comparison of studies in food nutrient quality between 1950 and 1999 suggested that crops cultivated to grow more rapidly and have a higher yield have a drastically decreased nutrient value. The same results were found in studies conducted in other countries. This means that even foods once high in magnesium are drawing less of the nutrient from the soil.

What Is Magnesium?

Magnesium should be the most abundant element in your body. It serves a multitude functions at the molecular level.

It is found in several different forms. These include magnesite (a rock salt commonly called magnesium carbonate), magnesium chloride (in seawater), and in chlorophyll of plant matter. The most easily absorbed of these is magnesium chloride. This is because it easily dissolves in water and is thus quickly absorbed by the body.

As it is a macro-nutrient, the body needs vast quantities of this mineral in order to function correctly.

Magnesium’s Role in the Body

Magnesium plays an important role in maintaining mineral balance in the body. It helps maintain sodium, calcium, and potassium, which affect nerve impulses, the heart’s rhythm, and muscle contraction.

Minerals need to be in balance to ensure good health. Magnesium cortisol supplements are great equalizers, because when there is too little magnesium, the balance goes awry, and cells no longer function optimally.

Magnesium has a metabolizing function in your cell’s mitochondria. Mitochondria supply the energy a cell needs to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). It does this by converting amino acids, glucose, and fatty acids. When there is a magnesium shortage, however, this function cannot readily take place. In essence, ATP and magnesium are dependent on each other, as they have an effect on your muscles, nerve transmission, and the calcification of blood vessels and tissue.

In addition, magnesium has psychological significance as well. Research indicates that a lack of magnesium cortisol supplements is associated with conditions such as headaches, seizures, muscle cramps, irritability, depression, psychosis, and behavioral disturbances. These are also typical symptoms that relate to the different stages of adrenal fatigue.

Cortisol Supplements: The Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium supplements play a vital role in hormone production and regulation, and helps to improve and maintain proper function in many other bodily systems. These benefits include:

Vitamin D Activation

Magnesium plays a role in activating vitamin D. If you have a magnesium shortage, vitamin D is unable to fulfill its role as the precursor of the hormone calcitriol. Calcitriol is a steroid hormone that regulates the calcium in your blood and optimizes kidney functionality.

Source of Cellular Energy

Magnesium is involved in glycolysis and the Krebs cycle. Glands such as the testes and thyroid and ovaries require much energy, and therefore magnesium, to function correctly.

Thyroid Support

The presence of magnesium cortisol supplements is essential for the formation of the thyroid hormone. Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the autoimmune inflammation underlying most instances of thyroid problems.

Manufactures Hormones

Cortisol supplements like magnesium help production of hormones.Magnesium is necessary for the manufacturing of certain steroid hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. Hot flashes experienced by premenopausal women are significantly reduced by means of magnesium supplementation.

Anti-Aging Properties

Cells replicate in order to sustain life. Yet, as you age, they start losing this ability. A study comparing different cultures with different magnesium intakes has shown that in those with higher magnesium levels, their cell replication continues until a much later stage than in those countries with lower magnesium levels. The end result is a longer lifespan and a healthier overall population.

Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

Magnesium sensitizes insulin receptors. This means you feel more satisfied with the sugars already in your diet and have fewer cravings for sugary foods, something which is important in weight loss. It also helps with the prevention of osteoporosis in the elderly.

Sleeping Aid

Magnesium promotes a good night rest, which is important for the production of anabolic hormones, e.g. the growth hormone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Growth hormones are essential for healthy muscles, while DHEA, made in the adrenal glands, can be converted into other hormones when the body needs them.

Cortisol Regulator

Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system. When the nervous system is calm, less cortisol is produced. The HPA axis is your stress hormonal system. When it is properly regulated, the other hormonal axes are also able to function to a more optimal degree.

Identifying a Magnesium Deficiency

Because the major portion of the magnesium in your body is inside your cells, there is no way of testing if you are magnesium deficient with a routine blood test. Intracellular red blood cell magnesium provides the best form of measuring magnesium level. This test is seldom done, both because it is expensive and because the majority of people living in the modern world are deficient.

Indications of a magnesium deficiency include:

  • Frequent migraines/headaches
  • Constant thirst
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Restless sleeping pattern
  • Nausea and/or acid reflux
  • Constant fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Feeling weak
  • Kidney stones
  • Muscle cramps

You do not have to have all these health problems in order to have a deficiency, but if you find yourself nodding at a number of them, it is a good idea to consider a magnesium supplement. This is especially true because a deficiency in this mineral is also an indicator of an elevated cortisol level.

Increasing Magnesium Levels

Research indicates that in the USA alone, approximately three-quarters of the population suffer from a magnesium deficiency. Incidents of chronic disease are on the rise. Research has proven a link between magnesium and over 300 different biochemical reactions in the human body. With the importance of magnesium clear, it is valuable to consider different ways of increasing magnesium levels in the body.

Magnesium Absorption Through the Skin

Oral magnesium supplements do not work well to control cortisol levels for everybody. Some forms of magnesium have even been shown to have an absorption rate of only four percent.

However, magnesium absorption through the skin is extremely effective.

Magnesium chloride bath/footbath

As an alternative to cortisol supplements a Magnesium footbath has its benefitsA bath or footbath with magnesium chloride crystals allows magnesium to enter the body through the skin. Because it is delivered to the body via the skin, it is easily tolerated and assimilated by most people, especially in the muscular system where magnesium is needed for it to function optimally. Note that those in advanced stages of adrenal fatigue may not be able to tolerate such modality.

Magnesium oil

Magnesium oil is readily absorbed through the skin and is convenient to use. Some people, however, find that it tends to dry out their skin. If you fall into this category, try taking a shower after about half an hour of spraying to get rid of any excess. Those with advanced AFS also tend to develop paradoxical reactions and have difficulty tolerating this form of magnesium.

In butter or lotion form

Magnesium lotion or butter is applied topically. Due to the other ingredients in this form, the skin is not dried out. Again, it may not be well tolerated by those in advanced stages of AFS.

Swim in the sea

Sea water is a rich source of magnesium. A daily swim in the sea will help improve your levels of this mineral.

Oral Magnesium Supplements and Diet

Internally, magnesium is absorbed through the intestinal tract. This includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.

Of the magnesium taken orally, 40% is absorbed by the small intestine, 5% by the large intestine, and the rest, a staggering 55%, leaves the body as waste. Some people are only able to absorb 20% of the total oral supplements consumed, while certain supplements, such as magnesium oxide, only have an absorption rate of 4%. This makes oral supplementation a poor option for many.

As far as diet goes, however, there are a number of ways to obtain more magnesium naturally. It is important to note that certain foods actively contribute towards magnesium absorption, while others hinder the process.

Foods that help magnesium absorption

  • Fructose
  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Protein (not including unfermented soy products)
  • Medium chain triglycerides, e.g. coconut oil
  • Fibers that are fermentable or soluble, e.g. fruit and vegetables

Foods that hinder magnesium absorption

  • High oxalates foods, e.g. leafy green vegetables, caffeine, cacao, tea, and nuts
  • High phytate foods, e.g. whole flour, bran, soy, grains, soy, beans (unsprouted)
  • Fibers that are not fermentable or non-soluble, e.g. bran, seeds, and whole grain

When eating food high in magnesium, the absorption rate of magnesium is also higher.

Foods with the highest magnesium counts

  • almonds
  • cashews
  • brazil nuts
  • pecans
  • buckwheat
  • molasses
  • kelp
  • millet
  • dulse (a dark red seaweed)
  • hazelnuts (filberts)

Cautions for Magnesium Supplementation

Certain medications and health problems are negatively affected by magnesium supplements. These medications include those taken for heartburn, blood pressure, and for psychiatric problems.

People with shortened bowels due to surgery may find they have diarrhea when taking oral supplements. In these instances, a topical application applied to the skin is better.

People with kidney problems, bradycardia, bowel obstructions, and myasthenia gravis should avoid magnesium cortisol supplements.

Can You Have Too Much Magnesium?

Taking too many cortisol supplements can lead to other symptomsIt is possible to have too much magnesium, although it is a rare occurrence. The body’s internal method of getting rid of excessive magnesium is by initiating diarrhea. Once the body’s tolerance level is reached, a harmless diarrhea will ensue. Simply reduce magnesium and this should resolve spontaneously.

Consistent excessive magnesium can lead to what what is known as hypermagnesemia. This can occur in those suffering from chronic health conditions. Indications of a magnesium overload include an irregular heartbeat, retention of urine, respiratory problems, cardiac arrest, nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, and general lethargy.

In Closing

Your body needs cortisol, and at times, it needs higher than normal levels of the hormone in order to survive a stressful situation. Sometimes, the body makes too much cortisol due to the HPA axis being constantly on the alert. The long-term effects are debilitating.

Cortisol, as with all other hormones in the body, needs to be in a state of balance in order for your all your body’s systems to function at their optimal level. When this is not the case, however, the adrenal glands are consistently forced to put out ever increasing amounts of this hormone, and all systems are impacted.

Phosphatidylserine and magnesium cortisol supplements are two important alternatives for lowering these cortisol levels. Any kind of oral cortisol supplements, however, need to be taken according to a certain dosage in order to avoid negative side-effects. It is important, therefore, that where adrenal fatigue and supplementation are considered, you choose the best course of action for your body with the guidance of a qualified practitioner.

Read Part 1 | Part 2

© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Cortisol supplements like magnesium help production of hormones.