Monthly Archives: February 2018

My Experiences with Ensure and Magnesium supplements

As I referred to in my earlier summary of my situation, I went through an ordeal with digestive issues, mainly “ulcerative colitis” (UC) or “inflammatory bowel,” in which I was in very bad shape mainly July 1999 until it was a lot better by April 2000. There were relapses (if there’s bleeding with BMs, that’s a “relapse” to me) from 2001 to 2005 and again in November-December 2012. It’s been more under control again since 2013.

I would say that between September and November 1999 my symptoms included bleeding with BMs, approx. 10-15 BMs per day, most of which were stimulated by the bleeding (I think). It got better by November probably because of the Rowasa enema. However, by January 2000 it got worse again. (I’ll get into that in more detail some other time!) And after various different medications it was better again by April 2000. By then I learned that diet plays a big role.

Anyway, one thing that I started in March 2000 was drinking Ensure, a liquid nutritional supplement to help me to reduce actual solid food intake while the lower digestive problem continued to try to heal. I think the Ensure was a big help in getting that better and getting in better physical health, by getting adequate nutritional support without too much solid food.

But the thing is, I continued to eat minimal amounts of solid food but also drink the Ensure as a main part of my nutritional intake for years and didn’t realize that it should only be temporary. (And it wasn’t any doctor who told me about the Ensure, it was my mother!) It took from that previous July of 1999 until March 2000 until I even KNEW about the Ensure!

So then I continued to drink Ensure mainly “Ensure Plus” the 8-oz. bottles, 4 per day, until September or October of 2013. Between then and 2016 I gradually decreased the Ensure from 4 to 3 per day, 3 to 2, 2 to 1, and then my last one was in June 2016. During that time (2013-2016) I had added hard-boiled eggs to my diet, a 2nd piece of chicken per day (white meat) for lunch in addition to one for dinner, extra-virgin olive oil, and butter replacing the margarine. But I still take quite a few vitamins and supplements.

And here is where I want to explain my situation with the magnesium. And these are my experiences and my own conclusions, so you can take it FWIW.

So, I didn’t have any problems (not really anyway) with my arms, such as with carrying heavy shopping bags and doing my regular exercises like push-ups in the morning, until January 2015. That was when I reduced the Ensure from 2 to 1 (8-oz. bottles). That month through March 2015 I had weakness in the arms and it was a problem. By March I learned that one cause of that could be magnesium deficiency.

So at that time I started taking magnesium citrate as I described in a previous post. And the arms weakness was really going away and by April or May 2015 was a lot better. Can I conclude from that that such weakness was associated with my decreasing the Ensure from 2 to 1 in January? Well, Ensure contains several added vitamins and minerals as well as protein and calories, including “magnesium phosphate.” Ensure Plus’s “% daily value” of magnesium is 25% and I was taking 4 per day for over 10 years. So my conclusion was that my body was used to the magnesium in the Ensure, but when reducing Ensure to 1 per day, that caused trouble. (I was having no other sources of magnesium, because I can’t have those vegetables and nuts that you need for magnesium intake.) I also had problems with various kinds of fish which is apparently high in magnesium, so I gave up on fish as well.

I continued with the magnesium citrate but then had more problems with the arms starting in October 2016. I guess I had a left elbow tendon injury which was probably caused by carrying heavy shopping bags all the way from stores to my apartment. (No car.) And then I reaggravated an old upper right arm injury because of carrying everything with my right arm because of the left arm healing. (Tendon injuries are difficult to heal and get reaggravated easily — please don’t get me started on that now.) So I increased the magnesium citrate because items on the Internet indicated that more magnesium is required to heal those kinds of tendon injuries.

But then the magnesium citrate I was taking (Vitamin World brand) still didn’t seem adequate, and the store here closed down as well. I took Magnesium glycinate at an earlier point in December 2015 for a few weeks but it seemed to have side effects, which I could be wrong about, and went back to magnesium citrate. So now I’ve been taking magnesium glycinate again and it really does seem to absorb better. However, after a month of that again this past December (2017) into January, it seemed to be getting interfered with by a different supplement that I occasionally took for reducing stress, “L-theanine.” Nothing on the Internet states that there’s an interaction between those two, or ANY known interactions between magnesium glycinate and other supplements. But I have to assume that something was going on there, and so I won’t take theanine anymore. Then, while things seemed to be getting better again, I happened to decide to increase my vitamin b12 from 2000 to 3000 mcg and it seemed that THAT was then interfering with my magnesium glycinate. So the b12 is back down to 2000 mcg per day. And that’s where I am now. I haven’t consulted with a nutritionist and rely mainly on the Internet for info. For now I’m sticking with the magnesium glycinate. (Apparently, magnesium chloride is also very good and highly absorbed, but lack of availability is a problem. I don’t want to order supplements on the Internet.)

UPDATE on 3/13/18: I was still having problems with the magnesium glycinate. I’ve been taking the KAL brand, which gets a low grade on because apparently KAL magnesium tests very high for arsenic and lead. I don’t know if that’s what the problem was, but I have switched back to magnesium citrate, this time the Bluebonnet brand which gets high marks on the lab websites. So far so good.