Magnesium is like a performance drug for our bodies. We all need it to keep balanced, strong and performing properly. Yet it’s often underrated and forgotten. And many of us are walking around in a deficient state without even knowing it. So, the question is, how can we get enough without taking a zillion pills a day? The answer might be transdermally.
But can magnesium be absorbed through the skin? And is that the best method?
Those are great questions, and in this article, we answer them and more.
Table of Contents
Why We Need Magnesium
Magnesium plays a significant role in managing calcium, potassium and sodium levels, which are essential in keeping our body balanced. Additionally, it aids in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, including muscle and nerve function, blood pressure regulation and protein synthesis.
It’s needed for energy production and contributes to keeping your ticker ticking rhythmically.
And it doesn’t end there. It promotes a healthy immune system and keeps your bones strong.
So yeah, magnesium is pretty important.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Besides migraines, people who are deficient can get soft bones. Magnesium helps the body balance calcium, and when it’s lacking, calcium doesn’t integrate into the tissue as it should. Instead, it floats around and gets deposited in random areas creating bone spurs and, over time, atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
At its worst, a lack of magnesium contributes to insulin resistance (which leads to diabetes), osteoporosis, and congestive heart failure.
And less severe conditions like tremors, insomnia, fatigue, and muscle tension.
Can Magnesium Be Absorbed Through Skin?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
In fact, transdermal absorption is a better method than taking oral magnesium.
Transdermal is a method of application where the key ingredients pass through the skin and into the body. Think nicotine patches for smokers trying to quit. Pain patches for your back. Or hormone patches for birth control or women going through menopause.
Watch our interview with founder and CEO of Living the Good Life Naturally, Kristen Bowen about all the benefits of Magnesium and why transdermal magnesium is the most effective way to intake this essential mineral.
How Does Transdermal Magnesium Work
The impenetrable look and feel of skin are deceiving. In reality, skin is very porous and has millions of microscopic openings where sweat and toxins escape, and other substances are absorbed.
There are three possible routes of dispersion into the body:
- Intercellular skin absorption occurs in between the cells of the skin
- Transcellular skin absorption occurs when it passes through the cells of the skin
- Skin absorption through glands and hair follicles, also known as appendageal absorption.
No matter how it passes through your skin, once there, it travels into the lymph and blood vessel system and bloodstream, which then distributes it throughout your body.
Transdermal magnesium is absorbed through the skin via creams, lotions, sprays, or soaks using magnesium flakes.
Difference Between Transdermal and Topical
These terms often get confused. Transdermal creams, lotions, oils, and soaks are formulated to deliver magnesium into the bloodstream. However, topical magnesium is created to affect the skin but not be delivered into the bloodstream.
Transdermal vs. Oral Magnesium
Most people are accustomed to taking magnesium orally; both are absorbed via the bloodstream. However, when taken orally, magnesium must first pass through your digestive system and then be distributed.
If you go the transdermal route, that whole step is eliminated, providing better bioavailability of the magnesium.
It’s a good idea to adopt the transdermal route if you struggle to take pills orally.
Or, if you have a sensitive stomach or digestive issues, you can bypass the digestive system entirely by skipping the oral method. Additionally, transdermal magnesium enters the body quicker.
What is a Magnesium Soak?
If you like getting pedicures or foot massages, then a magnesium soak may be just for you. All it takes is a 1/4 cup of Magnesium soak and some water.
It’s important that the basin is made of ceramic, porcelain, or glass. No metal or plastic as apparently it reacts with the magnesium and you won’t get the full benefits.
If you want to try a Magnesium Soak, we recommend Living The Good Life Naturally. Modern Aging readers get 10% off. Use code: MODERNAGING10 at checkout.
What are Magnesium Flakes?
Magnesium flakes are a highly concentrated form of magnesium chloride. It’s a naturally occurring type of magnesium from below the earth’s crust.
Add the flakes to a bath, and they’ll help contribute to normal muscle function, calcium absorption, and balance your electrolytes. They are the best transdermal magnesium method.
A magnesium soak offers the ultimate in relaxation and helps soothe fatigued or aching muscles—great after a hard workout.
Difference Between Epsom’s Salts and Magnesium Flakes?
Epson’s salts are magnesium sulphate, whereas magnesium flakes are magnesium chloride. The flakes have a higher concentration of magnesium than Epsom’s salts.
How do Magnesium Flakes Work?
By adding them to a warm bath, the flakes dissolve, and as you soak, you fully expose your body to a high concentration of magnesium.
If you’re not a bath person, you can soak your feet in a solution of magnesium flakes and warm water. The effects will be similar but not as intense since it’s only your feet vs. your entire body.
How to use Magnesium Flakes
Step 1: Add one to two cups of magnesium flakes to your warm bath.
Step 2: Swish the water to ensure all the flakes have dissolved.
Step 3: Chill. Enjoy your bath for at least 20 minutes.
Step 1: Add ½ cup to ¾ cup flakes to your warm footbath (approx. 2-3 gallons)
Step 2: Once dissolved, submerge feet completely for about 20 minutes.
Step 3: Feel the zen.
Whatever your method, do it 2-3 times per week.
Also, only use warm water, not hot, because higher temperatures could reduce the efficacy of the magnesium.
Other Magnesium Options
Magnesium Sprays (oils)
Don’t let the name fool you. Magnesium oils are not really oils. They are slippery like oil, hence the name. But they are water-soluble and not greasy at all.
What’s great about a magnesium spray is they can be applied anytime, anywhere. Muscles aching you? Joints bothering you? Use about 5-10 sprays, depending on the size of the area. Then be sure to massage it in well to stimulate absorption. You can use it a few times throughout the day.
It’s great to use after a bath when your pores are open, but it’s not required.
Magnesium Lotions and Creams
Magnesium creams, butters, and lotions are used the same as sprays. Apply to the affected area and massage well. Great to use them after a shower or steam, like the oil.
If you want to give it a try, we recommend the products at Living The Good Life Naturally. Modern Aging readers get 10% off. Use code: MODERNAGING10 at checkout.
Benefits of Magnesium
Now you know why we need it. Here are just a few of the benefits of magnesium:
Helps with Migraines
Some studies show that people who get regular migraines are often magnesium deficient. Migraines are sometimes treated with intravenous magnesium and magnesium oil or cream.
How to use it?
Rub a little on the shoulders, upper back and neck and massage it in.
It’s Good For The Skin
- It promotes hydration and elasticity
- It soothes red skin and rosacea
- It’s an antioxidant
- It slows the appearance of wrinkles
- It reduces breakouts
How to use it?
Spray a few pumps of magnesium oil into your hands and blot onto your face.
Helps with a Better Night’s Sleep
Magnesium calms the mind and body by relaxing the brain and nervous system receptors. So, what better way to lull yourself into la-la-land than by keeping calm and reducing stress?
How to do it?
Take a bath or soak your feet in magnesium flakes and a few drops of lavender essential oil.
That only scratches the surface. There are a lot more benefits of magnesium.
FAQ About Transdermal Magnesium
- Can you absorb too much magnesium through the skin?
Nope. Even though your skin is porous. It’s still a barrier, and it’s really not possible to absorb too much of anything through the skin.
- Why does my skin burn when I use magnesium oil?
Your body may not be used to the amount you apply, especially at the beginning, so take it slow until you figure out the right amount.
- What is the best way to absorb magnesium?
Studies have shown that the best way is through your skin, via a soak, rather than orally or topically.