Feeling exhausted? Or noticing weird muscle cramps that are throwing off your workouts? You might be suffering from a magnesium deficiency.
Dubbed the “invisible deficiency” by some experts because it’s so hard to spot and diagnose, magnesium deficiencies are more dangerous than you might think. Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in your body. It affects everything from your heartbeat to your muscles to your hormones.
By some estimates, up to 80 percent of Americans are not getting enough magnesium and may be deficient. Other research shows only about 25 percent of US adults are getting the recommended daily amount of 310 to 320 milligrams (mg) for women and 400 to 420 for men.
Even more concerning, consuming even this amount is “just enough to ward off outright deficiency,” according to Dr. Carolyn Dean, a medical and naturopathic doctor.
Magnesium Deficiency May Trigger 22 Medical Conditions
Magnesium is often thought of primarily as a mineral for your heart and bones, but this is misleading. Researchers have now detected 3,751 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins, indicating that its role in human health and disease may have been vastly underestimated.
Magnesium is necessary for:
– Helping digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats
– Acting as a precursor for neurotransmitters like serotonin
– Serving as a building block for RNA and DNA synthesis
– Activating muscles and nerves
– Creating energy in your body by activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
Dr. Dean has studied and written about magnesium for more than 15 years. The latest addition of her book, The Magnesium Miracle, came out in 2014 and in it you can learn about 22 medical areas that magnesium deficiency triggers or causes, all of which have all been scientifically proven. This includes:
1. Anxiety and panic attacks
2. Bowel diseases
4. Heart disease
7. Obstetrics and gynecology (PMS, infertility, and preeclampsia)
8. Tooth decay
13. Kidney disease
14. Musculoskeletal conditions (fibromyalgia, cramps, chronic back pain, etc.)
16. Blood clots
20. Liver disease
21. Nerve problems
22. Raynaud’s syndrome
Early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, headache, nausea, fatigue, and weakness. An ongoing magnesium deficiency can lead to more serious symptoms, including: numbness and tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms and coronary spasms.
The Role of Magnesium in Diabetes, Cancer, and More
Many people who are intending to prevent chronic diseases, aren’t considering the magnesium as a key factor in this process. There have been few remarkable studies about magnesium’s role in maintaining our metabolism functioning effective, particularly in terms of insulin sensitivity, glucose control and protection from type 2 diabetes.
Increased magnesium consummation diminishes the chance of impaired glucose and insulin metabolism and slows down the advancement from the pre-diabetes state to diabetes for middle-aged Americans. Researchers are claiming that: “Magnesium consummation could be very useful in offsetting the risk of expansion of diabetes, if you are high risk.”
Many studies have proved that increased magnesium consummation is related with increased bone mineral density in women and men. During a research in Norway has been proved a link between magnesium and consummation of water and a reduced risk of hip fractures.
It is also possible that the magnesium can reduce the risk of cancer, which was showed in a study released in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This study showed that increased consummation of dietary magnesium is related with a reduced risk of colorectal tumors. The results from the meta-analysis have pointed that for every 100 mg augment in magnesium consummation, the chance of colorectal tumor is reduced by 13%, and the chance of colorectal cancer is reduced by 12%. According to the researchers, the magnesium’s anti-cancer properties could be associated with its ability to diminish insulin resistance, which may stimulate the expansion of tumors.
Surprising Factors That Influence Your Magnesium Levels
Seaweed and green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard can be excellent sources of magnesium, as are some beans, nuts, and seeds, like pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds. Avocados also contain magnesium. Juicing your vegetables is an excellent option to ensure you’re getting enough of them in your diet.
However, most foods grown today are deficient in magnesium and other minerals, so getting enough isn’t simply a matter of eating magnesium-rich foods (although this is important too). According to Dr. Dean:
“Magnesium is farmed out of the soil much more than calcium… A hundred years ago, we would get maybe 500 milligrams of magnesium in an ordinary diet. Now we’re lucky to get 200 milligrams.”
Herbicides, such as glyphosate are acting as chelators, and are very efficient in obstructing the intake and exploitation of minerals in many foods grown today. This leads in difficulties in finding magnesium-rich foods. While cooking and processing the food you will diminish the magnesium levels inside.
There are also some foods that are able to affect your body’s ability for absorption of magnesium. If you are consuming alcohol in bigger amounts, it may affect with your body’s absorption of vitamin D, which on the other hand is very helpful for magnesium absorption. According to Dr. Danine Fruge, associate medical director at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Florida, the sugar can cause the body to discharge magnesium through the kidneys, which will lead to a net loss. Here are some factors that are related with reduced magnesium levels:
– Increased uptake of soda or caffeine
– Older age (older adults are facing greater risk for magnesium deficient due to reduced absorption that comes with the ages and the older people are using some medicals that are affecting the absorption)
– Some medications, like diuretics, antibiotics (gentamicin and tobramycin), corticosteroids (prednisone or Deltasone), antacids and insulin
– Unhealthy digestive system diminishes the body’s ability for magnesium absorption (Crohn’s disease, leaky gut, etc.)
Calcium, Vitamin K2 and Vitamin D Must Be Balanced with Magnesium
It may seem like you could remedy the risks of low magnesium simply by taking a supplement, but it’s not quite that simple. When you’re taking magnesium, you need to consider calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 as well, since these all work synergistically with one another. Excessive amounts of calcium without the counterbalance of magnesium can lead to a heart attack and sudden death, for instance. Research on the Paleolithic or caveman diet has shown that the ratio of calcium to magnesium in the diet that our bodies evolved to eat is 1-to-1. Americans in general tend to have a higher calcium-to-magnesium ratio in their diet, averaging about 3.5-to-1.
If you have too much calcium and not enough magnesium, your muscles will tend to go into spasm, and this has consequences for your heart in particular. “What happens is, the muscle and nerve function that magnesium is responsible for is diminished. If you don’t have enough magnesium, your muscles go into spasm. Calcium causes muscle to contract. If you had a balance, the muscles would do their thing. They’d relax, contract, and create their activity,” Dr. Dean explains.
- When balancing calcium and magnesium, also keep in mind that vitamins K2 and D need to be considered. These four nutrients perform an intricate dance together, with one supporting the other. Lack of balance between these nutrients is one of the reasons why calcium supplements have become associated with increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, and why some people experience vitamin D toxicity. Part of the explanation for these adverse side effects is that vitamin K2 keeps calcium in its appropriate place. If you’re K2 deficient, added calcium can cause more problems than it solves, by accumulating in the wrong places, like your soft tissue.
Similarly, if you opt for oral vitamin D, you need to also consume it in your food or take supplemental vitamin K2 and more magnesium. Taking mega doses of vitamin D supplements without sufficient amounts of K2 and magnesium can lead to vitamin D toxicity and magnesium deficiency symptoms, which include inappropriate calcification that may damage your heart.
Tips for Increasing Your Magnesium Levels
- Juicing the greens is one of the best ways to boost your magnesium levels. You can drink one pint to one quart of fresh green vegetable juice daily, which can be a great source of magnesium. There can be a higher level of magnesium in organic foods that are grown in nutrient rich ground. If you decide to go for a supplement, you should know that there are many magnesium supplements on the shelves, because magnesium must be bound to another substance. There isn’t such thing as a 100% magnesium supplement.
- The substance used in any given composition can leave an impact on the absorption and the magnesium’s bioavailability, and could yield a little bit different or targeted health benefits. In the following table are summarized the differences between the different forms. The best sources are magnesium threonate and citrate because of their ability to penetrate cell membranes, including your mitochondria, which will lead in boosted energy levels. It also penetrates our blood-brain barrier and looks like it does amazing job in treating and preventing dementia and betters memory. If you are using supplement you can use the “bowel test” which will show you if you are taking too much magnesium. Dr. Dean gives an explanation:
- “The best way to know if you are taking enough magnesium is the “bowel test”. When you are taking too much magnesium your stools will become loose. This could be useful for people who are experiencing constipation… which is one of the ways magnesium deficiency manifests.”
- Epsom salt baths or foot baths are another effective way for improving magnesium levels in your body. As a matter of fact, the Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate that can be absorbed through our skin. For topical application and absorption you can use magnesium oil. You can use whatever supplement you like, but make sure that you are avoiding any containing magnesium stearate, which is usual but potentially harmful additive.