| micronutrients

What Is Magnesium Bicarbonate?

By Tyler Woodward

Magnesium Bicarbonate is quickly becoming known as the king of magnesium supplements, but this supplement is anything but new.


What Is Magnesium Bicarbonate?:

What Is Magnesium Bicarbonate

Magnesium bicarbonate is an ionic salt, similar to the table salt that you have sitting on your kitchen table. Pure table salt is made up of sodium and chloride, both of which are ions. Ions are molecules that have electrical charges, sodium has a charge of +1 and chloride has a charge of -1. These opposite charges attract each other (opposites attract!) and cancel each other out when connecting, forming a neutrally charged (no charge) ionic salt of sodium chloride or NaCl.

All ionic salts are formed in the same way, but with two different “ions” or chemicals attracting each other. Because magnesium has a charge of +2 it attaches to two bicarbonate ions, one on each side and forms a structure that looks like this:

What’s The Big Deal About Magnesium Bicarbonate?:

What's The Big Deal About Magnesium Bicarbonate

There’s two reasons why magnesium bicarbonate is so beneficial

  1. A great source of magnesium
  2. A great source of bicarbonate

1. Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the five main electrolytes found in the human body. Electrolytes are responsible for managing the electrical charge of our cells. If your cells cannot properly regulate their electrical charge, then your cells cannot work properly, resulting in dysregulation (also known as disorder or chaos) in your cells.

Magnesium is arguably the most important of these enzymes because it is the one most people are consuming the least of. Magnesium is known to be responsible for regulating at least 300 enzymes in the body, but more recent studies have found that number to be closer to 600 enzymes and 3,700+ proteins. Without adequate magnesium these proteins cannot function.  In fact, Dr Norman Shealy states that, "Every known illness is associated with a magnesium deficiency". 

Most importantly, magnesium binds directly to ATP or adenosine triphosphate. ATP is the cellular currency of energy, it’s basically the dollar of our cells. Without ATP life itself ceases to exist. Magnesium must bind to ATP in order for ATP to be able to do its job and be used as energy. So needless to say magnesium is extremely important and vital to life itself.

According to the FDA the recommended daily allowance for magnesium in men is 400-420mg and for women 310-320mg. The foods highest in magnesium are:

  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Whole Grains
  • Dairy
  • Chocolate
  • Greens
  • Coffee

The issue is that the majority of these dietary sources of magnesium are very poorly absorbed. Nuts, seeds, legumes, greens, chocolate, and grains are also very high in the antinutrients phytic acid and oxalates. These antinutrients bind to magnesium  among other minerals in our digestive tract and are excreted from the body. 

You can imagine this like your least favorite class in high school. Just because you were physically present in the class, doesn’t mean you actually absorbed any of the information. If you hate the class, most of the information just goes in one ear and out the other so to speak. The same thing happens in these foods containing these antinutrients phytic acid and oxalates.

Because adequate magnesium is so difficult to consume this has led to a divide in the nutrition communities taking up one of two stances:

  1. The recommended daily intake of magnesium is too high
  2. We need to be consuming magnesium from other sources

Part of this divide stems from a poor ability to measure your magnesium status or how much magnesium is found in the body. Only a fraction of the amount of magnesium found in your body is found in the blood, the supermajority of magnesium is found in your cells, bones among other organs. This has led to an inability to accurately test for magnesium, so we can’t easily determine whether or not people are deficient in it. 

For a number of reasons I believe the answer lies in the second option and we vastly underestimate the importance of magnesium. Magnesium deficiency has been associated with: 

  • Poor Sleep & Insomnia
  • Low Energy Levels
  • Poor Digestion
  • Poor Focus
  • Headaches

Among a host of other diseases…

The other side of the story is that only recently did we solely rely on foods to consume adequate amounts of magnesium. Magnesium used to be found in much higher quantities in our water supply before industrialization which was much more easily absorbed and assimilated into our body. Additionally, this (relatively) magnesium rich water was used in agriculture, meaning higher quantities of magnesium were found in our food.

Lastly, if you’ve ever heard the saying, ‘we came from the sea’ it’s true! Every organism on earth evolved out of the ocean including humans, it was only the last few thousand years that we left the ocean and spread out throughout the Earth. The ocean along with many natural water sources just so happens to be filled with magnesium which we absorb through our skin!

The Magnesium Burn Rate:

Magnesium Burn Rate

The magnesium burn rate is the rate at which your body burns through magnesium. In a healthy, relatively low-stress person, the body is normally able to recycle large portions of its minerals allowing them to be used over and over again. But the more stress and stress your body is subjected to the more magnesium your body is burning and the less is able to be recycled for future use. 

As you’re likely well aware we live in an ultra fast-paced high stress society. Basically we’re all overly stressed on top of a nutrient poor food supply that does not supply our body with adequate amounts of minerals to combat this. This leads to a large increase in the rate at which we burn magnesium leading to magnesium deficiency’s developing over time.

Read More: Everything You Need To Know About Magnesium

2. A Great Source Of Bicarbonate

Great Source

Bicarbonate salts play an extremely important role as a buffer in our blood. Our blood must remain at a relatively neutral pH (measure of acidity) between 7.35-7.45 after which points the proteins in our blood begin to denature, rendering them unusable. If your blood pH drops too low you will suffer from acidosis and if your blood pH rises too high you will suffer from alkalosis, both of which can result in death. 

Bicarbonate acts as a buffer which helps to keep our blood pH in this normal range during times of stress. As your cells take in oxygen and release CO2 the CO2 binds with water in your blood cells forming carbonic acid. This carbonic acid breaks apart into bicarbonate salts and a hydrogen ion. The more hydrogen ions present in your blood, the more acidic your blood becomes. Lactic acid or alcohol can also further acidify your bloodstream. 

This is beneficial in times of stress or exercise, as it allows your cells to absorb more oxygen as it releases more CO2 from energy production, but too much can be extremely harmful. If you’ve ever seen someone vomit from overexerting themself this is their body acting in order to lower the amount of lactic acid from the bloodstream.

The extra bicarbonate ions from drinking magnesium hydroxide act to scavenge up these hydrogen ions in your bloodstream and neutralize the charge. This helps to keep your bloodstream in a neutral state and can potentially even help reverse the effects from the accumulation of lactic acid, alcohol and excess CO2. This is the same concept as the “alkalinized” water that you see sold in many health and grocery stores sold today.

Read More: Are You Healthy?

How To Make Magnesium Bicarbonate:

How To Make Magnesium Bicarbonate

To make magnesium bicarbonate requires three things:

  1. Water (preferably filtered)
  2. Magnesium Hydroxide Powder
  3. A Sodastream or a Carbonated Water Maker

Fill up the sodastream bottle and drop between an ⅛ -¼ teaspoon of magnesium hydroxide powder into the bottle. Then adequately carbonate the bottle and quickly put the cap back on. Once the cap has been secured on the bottle vigorously shake the bottle. Let the bottle sit for at least 3-4 hours to allow the reaction to take place and the magnesium hydroxide powder to convert into magnesium bicarbonate. When the water is ready to drink it should be clear and have no leftover powder sitting on the bottom.

If you see any sediment sitting on the bottom of the bottle make sure to shake the bottle again and wait to drink it until the water is clear again. 

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