Benefits of magnesium supplementation
Benefits of taking magnesium
While magnesium actually has too many benefits to list we will go through some common problems which supplementing magnesium can help with significantly.
Stress and headaches
Stress is a major factor in five out of six leading causes of death in the western world, heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory disease and accidents. Up to ninety percent of visits to your gp are directly related to stress related issues. The body has many negative reactions to stress, some examples would be,
- Heart and blood pressure increase to supply blood to your brain.
- Blood pressure rises as glycogen, fat and muscle are broken down by adrenalin for the production of energy.
- Blood is diverted from your gut to skeletal muscles for reaction to the false fight or flight response you are constantly feeling. Magnesium plays a part in each of these reactions.
- Rising blood pressure can cause hypertension when the walls of your blood pressure spasm, this is counteracted by magnesium.
- When your blood sugar rises insulin will pull glucose into your cells to produce energy, without magnesium your cells will not be able to absorb the glucose. People with diabetes typically are also low or deficient in magnesium.
- When large muscles are low in magnesium increased blood circulation to counteract it can cause muscle cramps, irritability and restless leg syndrome.
Another common problem caused by stress are headaches and migraines, headaches are also a very common symptom of magnesium deficiency. Stress causes a build up of tension running through the neck, shoulders and upper back muscles. Magnesium will relax these muscles releasing tension and remove headaches caused by the deficiency. Magnesium is also effective in treating other types of headaches such as migraines and PMS headaches as it relaxes blood vessels and allows them to dilate, reduces spasms and constrictions which cause migraines and regulates inflammatory substances which cause headaches and migraines.
Migraine action survey
65% of respondents stated that magnesium have helped ease their migraine symptoms.
Insomnia is is a sleep disorder caused by poor quality of sleep, this can be broken into the following.
Having trouble getting to sleep.
Waking during the night and being unable to get back to sleep.
Waking earlier than desired and being unable to get back to sleep.
Similarly to magnesium good quality sleep is required for a huge variety of processes in your body and a lack of sleep or low quality sleep can give many symptoms such as.
Feeling tired or worn out
Lack of energy, motivation and enthusiasm.
Mood swings, irritability and aggression.
Increased likelihood of accidents while driving or working.
Insomnia is a widespread sleep disorder, up to 50% of people report having symptoms occasionally.
Around 10% of people have experienced chronic insomnia.
Insomnia is more likely to affect elderly adults.
Insomnia is more common in adults who have children.
People who use excessive amounts of stimulants such as caffeine are more likely to have insomnia.
Unlike magnesium over the counter medicines are a poor treatment for insomnia, they often leave undesirable side effects and lead to poor quality sleep.
Insomnia is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency.
Low magnesium levels will lead to restless poor quality sleep and waking during the night.
Taking magnesium before bed relaxes the body allowing you to get to sleep and then putting you into a deeper and more sound state of sleep.
Magnesium is essential for the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter which promotes sleep.
People often associate consumption of saturated fat with elevated levels of cholesterol in the body. Contrary to popular belief the majority of cholesterol is made in the liver each day. For your liver to produce cholesterol it requires an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase, magnesium is required to slow the production of this enzyme which will regulate the production of cholesterol. Statins the drugs typically prescribed to people with high levels of cholesterol actually work in the exact same way by slowing the production of the enzyme though unlike magnesium statins completely stop the process and cause numerous undesirable side effects.
PMSMagnesium can greatly reduce the symptoms of PMS. PMS occurs between two and fourteen days prior to the period starting Typically symptoms are bloating, fluid retention, abdominal, back, breast pain, acne and headaches. Symptoms can come and go, there is a lack of understanding about the actual cause of them. Introducing magnesium into the diet can often lead to a significant lessening of the symptoms.
- Timothy Kinghan
Magnesium DeficiencySigns of magnesium deficiency
Because magnesium is required for so many processes in the body there are many varied signs of deficiency. These symptoms are often quite subtle and people can live with them for years unaware that it is something so simple as a nutritional deficiency causing them.
- Aches and pains
- Slow recovery from exercise
- Mood problems
- Muscle cramps
- Irregular sleep patterns and insomnia
- Heart irregularities
- Muscle twitches and spasms
- Digestive trouble
- Lack of appetite
- Brain fog
- Memory problems
Causes of Magnesium deficiency
Cooking and processing food depletes magnesium, even from those foods high in magnesium.
Alcohol, coffee, sugar, and high protein in the diet are also responsible for diminished magnesium levels in the body
Low levels of magnesium in soil leading to low levels in produce.
Modern day farming has removed the magnesium and other essential minerals from the soil. The plants take the magnesium out of the soil and the nitrogen based fertilisers used for maximising growth do not replace them. This leads to less and less minerals in each crop. The nutritional information listed for produce are based on ideal circumstances with plants grown in optimal conditions, the reality is the figures are generally much lower than those listed.
- Timothy Kinghan
Polysaccharides in seaweeds
What type of polysaccharides are found in seaweed?
Seaweeds contain large amounts of polysaccharides, notably cell wall structural polysaccharides that are extruded by the hydrocolloid industry: alginate from brown seaweeds, carrageenans and agar from red seaweeds.
Other minor polysaccharides are found in the cell wall: fucoidans (from brown seaweeds), xylans (from certain red and green seaweeds), ulvans in green seaweeds.
Seaweeds also contain storage polysaccharides, notably laminarin (b-1, 3-glucan) in brown seaweeds and floridean starch (amylopectin - like glucan) in red seaweeds.
Polysaccharides as dietary fibres
When faced with the human intestinal bacteria, most of these polysaccharides (agars, carrageenans, ulvans and fucoidans), are not digested by humans and therefore can be regarded as dietary fibres.
Water soluble and water insoluble fibres have been associated with different physiological effects. Many viscous soluble polysaccharides (pectins, guar gum etc.) have been correlated with hypocholesterolemic and hypoglycemic effects, whereas water-insoluble polysaccharides (cellulose) are mainly associated with a decrease in digestive tract transit time (Southgate 1990).
Fucoidan and potential applications
Among polysaccharides, fucoidans were particularly studied as they showed interesting biological activities (anti-thrombotic, anti-coagulant, anti-cancer, anti-proliferative, anti-viral, anti-complementary and anti-inflammatory).
These properties open up a wide field of potential therapeutic applications, some of which are already the subject of patents concerning notably the anti-coagulant and anti-thrombotic properties (Charreau et al. 1995, Nasu et al 1997, Angstwurm et al. 1997). As for xylans and laminarans, they are completely and rapidly degraded by intestinal bacteria, alginates are only partly degraded and lead to a substantial production of short chain fatty acids.
- Timothy Kinghan
Pigments in Seaweed and their benefits
The Pigments in Seaweed
Seaweeds are photosynthetic organisms and they can be split into three different colour categories; red, green and brown.
As photosynthetic organisms, seaweed contains a number of pigments that are responsible for the variety of colours observed in brown, green and red seaweeds. Together, these pigments allow seaweed to absorb the light necessary for photosynthesis at depths that have various degrees of light intensity. These pigments can be divided into three main groups which include chlorophylls, phycobiliproteins and carotenoids and have a number of health benefits when consumed. Research concerning these seaweed-derived bioactive compounds has increased significantly in recent years and there is currently considerable interest in the anti-oxidant, anti-obesity and anti-cancer activity of macroalgal pigments.
Chlorophyll: The Green Pigment
Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in both algae and land plants and is necessary for photosynthesis as it facilitates the absorption of energy from light. Chlorophyll and its derivatives such as pheophytin, pyropheophytin and pheophorbide are associated with a number of health benefits including anti-oxidant and anti-mutagenic activity which may help to prevent cancer (Chernomorsky et al., 1999). It is also likely that chlorophyll-derived compounds can bind certain cancer-causing chemicals, such as heterocyclic amines in the digestive tract, thus reducing their absorption (Breinholt et al., 1995; Dashwood et al., 1996).
Phycobiliproteins: The Red-Brown Pigment
Phycobiliproteins are water-soluble pigments that are found in red seaweeds and include phycoerythrin, phycocyanin and allo-phycocyanin. Previous scientific studies have reported that this group of proteins possess anti-inflammatory, liver protecting, anti-viral, anti-tumour, serum lipid reducing and anti-oxidant activity (Sekar and Chandramohan, 2008). Phycobiliproteins are found in red seaweeds such as Chondrus chrispus and Palmaria palmata and are responsible for the red-brown colour of these species.
Carotenoids: β-carotene, Fucoxanthin and Tocopherol (amongst others!)
Carotenoids are important pigments that are found in seaweed but are also present in land plants, microalgae and photosynthetic bacteria. As animals (and humans) cannot produce carotenoids, these pigments must be obtained from the diet. Over 600 carotenoids have been identified but prominent examples found in seaweed include β-carotene and fucoxanthin.
Examples of other carotenoids which are found in seaweed include astaxanthin, violaxanthin, tocopherol, zeaxanthin and lutein (Holdt and Kraan, 2011).
Carotenoids are potent anti-oxidants which prevent oxidative damage to cellular components caused by reactive oxygen species. As reactive oxygen species are associated with the development of many chronic diseases it is not surprising that carotenoids have been linked with the prevention of many chronic diseases (Cooper et al., 1999).
β-carotene: The well-known carotenoid
β-carotene is a well-known carotenoid that is present in seaweeds including Ascophyllum nodosum, Fucus vesiculosus, Fucus serratus, Laminaria digitata, Ulva sp. and Sargassum sp. at various levels. β-carotene is an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and possibly certain types of cancer (Holdt and Kraan, 2011).
Fucoxanthin: A carotenoid with promising signs of anti-cancerous properties
Fucoxanthin is another carotenoid present in brown seaweeds such as Ascophyllum nodosum and Laminaria digitata. This pigment has received much interest in recent years due to its reported anti-obesity and anti-cancer activity. There is scientific evidence to suggest that fucoxanthin prevents the cellular proliferation of cancer cells in studies investigating prostate, colon, liver, bladder, gastric and breast cancer and also lymphoma. Fucoxanthin has also been shown to induce apoptosis which plays an important role in the prevention of cancer development (Rengarajan et al., 2013).
The presence of health-promoting compounds such as the above mentioned pigments in seaweed makes it an excellent choice for inclusion in pet food. This should enable pet owners to contribute to pet health using a 100% natural and sustainable resource.
- Timothy Kinghan
Iodine | More important than you think
Iodine is present in the soil and sea waters of the world. The amount in soil is believed to be steadily depleting and it is much more abundant in the sea waters.
With varying levels in the soil it is very difficult to know how much is present in food if the iodine levels are not tested. The soil is also steadily being depleted of iodine meaning the amounts present in land plants is diminishing. Livestock are routinely supplemented with iodine leading to it being present in varying amounts in animal foodstuffs, but the levels in meat and dairy are not tested.
Natural Source of Iodine
Seaweed is known as the best natural source of iodine but care should be taken when introducing it into the diet. This is because if someone is used to low levels of iodine then a large increase in iodine consumption can cause thyroid issues. Start by consuming low amounts and then increase until the desired intake is achieved.
Due to the varying levels of iodine in different seaweed - depending on where they were sourced from, seasonal variations and differences between species, it is recommended to only eat seaweed with verified iodine levels. This is especially true if only beginning to consume sources of iodine as a sharp increase in the daily iodine consumption can have an adverse effect on some individuals. For this reason each batch of our dried and milled seaweed has verified Iodine levels.
Why do we need iodine?
Iodine is an extremely important trace element that cannot be synthesised by the body and is necessary for some very important bodily functions.
- Normal Cognitive Function: Iodine deficiency can lead to decreased cognitive ability. Low intake of Iodine is believed to be the world’s leading cause of intellectual deficiency.
- Normal Energy Yielding Metabolism: Metabolism converts the fuel in the food we eat into the energy needed to power everything we do, from moving to thinking to growing.
- Normal Functioning of the Nervous System
- Maintenance of Normal Skin: The healthy development of skin, teeth, nails and bones are all related to normal iodine levels.
- The Normal Production of Thyroid Hormones and Normal Thyroid Function: The thyroid gland needs only a trace amount of iodine, to synthesize the requisite amounts of T4 and T3 used to regulate metabolism and ensure normal growth and development.
- Crucial pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy and when lactating. The female body needs to have sufficient levels of iodine before pregnancy as the foetus is reliant on the mother’s thyroid hormones during the first few months of gestation and her iodine supply after this.
“Iodine deficiency is the world’s most prevalent, yet easily preventable, cause of brain damage.” World Health Organisation (WHO)
Iodine deficiency is a major public health problem for populations throughout the world, particularly for pregnant women and young children. The most devastating outcomes of iodine deficiency are increased perinatal mortality and mental retardation. Iodine deficiency is the greatest cause of preventable brain damage in childhood and can cause adults to not think clearly or produce thyroid hormones.
Iodine deficiency in the UK and Ireland
A 2009 study in the U.K of 14-15 year old schoolgirls showed that 51% were mildly iodine deficient, rising to 85% in Belfast. Their conclusion was that Britain was suffering from iodine deficiency. Likewise, the Republic of Ireland is believed to have a mild to moderate iodine deficient population.
Established Thyroid issues
Talk to your doctor or endocrinologist if you are suffering from established thyroid issues, like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, before taking this product or any others with iodine.
Thyroid issues are incredibly complex, and too much iodine can actually exacerbate existing thyroid disorders just as too little can create them, so concrete recommendations can’t really be established. As with many bodily functions and nutrient requirements, recommendations can differ from person to person.
- Timothy Kinghan
Natural Sources of Iodine
Iodine is a trace element that cannot be synthesised by the body. Due to this it is necessary to obtain the bodies iodine requirements from dietary sources.
Unfortunately though Iodine is not present in many foods and the ones that it is present in tend not to have the levels verified. Hence it is virtually impossible to know how much iodine you are consuming in your diet. The below table shows you the foods that are considered to have the most iodine present in them, the only glaring omission is seaweed - that is by far the best natural source of Iodine.
Please note the below amounts are only indicative and can very greatly. This is because the amount of Iodine in soils will vary greatly depending on location and fertilisers being used. Iodine is believed to be getting further depleted from much of the soil and this has a direct effect on the amount of Iodine in the plants being grown.
Natural Food Sources of Iodine
Average iodine/ portion (mcg)
Organic cow’s milk
1 egg (50g)
1 slice (36g)
Fruit and veg
1 portion (80g)
**Depending on the season, higher value in winter. These amounts will vary greatly and are meant as indicative.
The above table highlights that it is difficult to get sufficient Iodine into the diet, especially for Vegans! Luckily though seaweed is by far the best natural source of Iodine. Many dietary associations and bodies recommend not consuming seaweed as the levels of Iodine can be so concentrated that it can cause an adverse reaction in people who are not used to consuming high amounts.
Most seaweed products only show the Typical Nutritional Profile of the seaweed in question and not the quantities in each individual batch. To highlight the differences in Iodine levels of different seaweeds, please view the below table.
As mentioned the levels of iodine present will vary but it is a good indicator of how different the iodine levels are depending on seaweed variety.
|Iodine Levels (ppm)
|150 - 550
|150 - 550
|800 - 5000
|200 - 300
|700 - 1200