Electrolytes are a frequent topic of conversation, and a huge source of confusion in Ketogenic circles. Kimmi Katte is one of our fantastic Ketovangelist Lifestyle Coaches, as well as a Clinical Nutritionist in Australia, and over the next few weeks she will be addressing the various electrolytes, why we need them on keto, and where to start with supplementation. Take it away, Coach Kimmi!
Why should we pay attention to magnesium on a Ketogenic diet?
I think I can safely say that mild magnesium deficiency is common in the general population, and seems to be even more common in the ketogenic population unless it is properly attended to. When we are in a state of ketosis our bodies excrete more magnesium than when we are sugar burners, and to retain a healthy level of magnesium in the body tissues it’s important to replace that loss.
Magnesium is responsible for hundreds of very important biochemical processes in the body (like heart rhythm regulation, efficient nerve and muscle function, and regulation of blood glucose levels just to name a few), and allowing depletion without replenishment can lead to varying degrees of the following symptoms:
• Muscle cramping
• Low appetite
• Elevated blood glucose
• Weakness and lethargy
• Foggy brain
Where can we get our magnesium from?
There are only a few foods that are acceptable on a ketogenic diet that are high in magnesium. Some of them include spinach, swiss chard, and avocado. To ensure that you replace your lost magnesium, most find it helpful to use a good quality supplemental form of magnesium alongside any magnesium-rich foods you might include in your diet.
Supplemental magnesium is purchased as a compound, because it’s not possible to absorb it in it’s pure state. On the label you’ll see the word magnesium with another word following it, which is the name of the additional ingredient added to the magnesium.
We commonly see the following compounds in magnesium supplements:
• Magnesium Oxide – contains a high level of elemental magnesium, but is poorly absorbed by the body
• Magnesium Chloride – this is a nice one to take if you are experiencing reflux or heartburn symptoms due to low stomach acid
• Magnesium Malate – could be helpful for people experiencing muscle pain and or fatigue
• Magnesium Citrate – reasonably well absorbed, but may have a strong laxative effect
• Magnesium Ascorbate – has the least impact on gastrointestinal motility, so would be best used by somebody who cannot tolerate the citrate
• Magnesium L-threonate – this compound is relatively new, and may prevent and restore memory deficits
Some of these compounds may come with an added health bonus. Magnesium malate, for example, is magnesium compounded with malic acid. Malic acid can be helpful in cases of pain and fatigue, and so it may provide some relief for people with fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
How much magnesium do we need?
500mg of elemental magnesium per day adequately replenishes magnesium loss for most people on the Ketogenic diet. You may need more or less than that depending on your health status or if you are on medications that interfere with proper mineral absorption. If you are uncertain or concerned, seek the advice of a physician who has been trained in nutrition.
Remember to read the label on the back of the magnesium bottle to see how much elemental magnesium you’re getting per serving!