The Importance of Magnesium
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body. Magnesium plays a role in many vital physiological functions. Magnesium deficiency is very common among patients admitted to the hospital. Magnesium deficiency can cause a large array of issues including neurological and cardiac problems at its height. But many subtle problems can also be associated with magnesium deficiency.
When you are under stress, you will use up your magnesium more readily. This means that most people that experience stress today are regularly going through their magnesium supplies. Not to mention that our soils are largely magnesium deficient therefore the magnesium content of our food is much lower than it used to be. Magnesium intake is dependent upon the magnesium content of foods and drinking water. With escalating levels of daily stressors and consumption of less magnesium through food, I find that many complaints can improve by supplementing magnesium. Additionally excess sugars in the diet such as mannitol or glucose cause a dramatic increase in urinary excretion of magnesium. To make this more simple, you can think of it as if you are eating a lot of sugar, you will be even more magnesium deficient because the little you have you may urinate out!
Magnesium deficiency can be common in people with impaired absorption abilities as well such as patients with crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease. A variety of drugs can cause magnesium depletion as well such as loop diuretics, antibiotics, and chemotherapeutic agents. Diabetes mellitus, both type I and type II, are said to be the commonest causes of magnesium deficiency, with 25–39% of patients being affected.
Chronic low magnesium state has been associated with a number of chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and osteoporosis. Magnesium helps to support adrenal function and is utilized by over 300 enzymes in the human body. Magnesium is no small player! Magnesium is important in the musculoskeletal system as well as affecting the heart muscle itself. It competes with calcium for membrane binding sites therefore the calcium to magnesium balance in the body is very important. Most people mistake the importance for magnesium for importance for calcium. People are heavily supplementing with calcium when they should in fact be supplementing with magnesium. Calcium is abundant in our diet compared to the paleolithic diet of years ago and we are having more and more bone weakness and fractures in our current day and age. About 60 percent of the body’s 1,000 mmols of magnesium is present in the bone. Numerous studies reveal calcium supplementation is not effective at reducing bone fractures.
There are many great food sources of magnesium such as dark green leafy vegetables, especially when eaten raw or only lightly steamed. Refining or processing of food may deplete magnesium content by nearly 85%. Furthermore, cooking, especially boiling of magnesium-rich foods, will result in significant loss of magnesium. Other foods that are high in magnesium include grains, nuts and legumes. Moderate levels of magnesium can be found in chocolate, fruits, meats, fish, and other vegetables that are not dark green and leafy. Dairy products are a poor source of magnesium.
How do you know if your magnesium is low?
Are you restless when you sleep? Do you wake up and your covers are all over the place on your bed?
Do you have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep?
Do you experience anxiety?
Do you experience any twitches such as an eyelid twitching?
Do you startle more easily than others?
Are you excessively ticklish?
Are you suffering from muscle aches and cramping?
Do you get “Charlie horses” often?
Do you crave chocolate?
Do you drink a lot of carbonated beverages? (these have phosphates in them that cause magnesium depletion from the body)
Are you eating a lot of sweets, candy, and pastries?
Do you drink a lot of caffeinated beverages? (caffeine will cause your kidneys to excrete magnesium out of the body)
Do you regularly drink a lot of alcohol? (drinking near 7 -10 drinks weekly will deplete the body of magnesium)
Do you take calcium supplements that don’t contain magnesium or contain a 2:1 calcium to magnesium ratio? (ingesting more calcium will cause magnesium depletion)
Sometimes relating magnesium levels takes more than just eating magnesium rich foods and more than just taking a supplement, it takes eliminating the bad habits also. Start by removing sugar foods and carbonated beverages from your diet. Manage your stress by getting enough sleep and exercising and breathing! Include dark green leafy vegetables every day and take a magnesium supplement after dinner or before bed.
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