The symptoms of magnesium often go unnoticed and untreated, which means that many more people are deficient than is commonly realised. But what happens when you’re low in magnesium? Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, and when levels drop, the effects are significant to our health.
Barely anyone realizes that the ailments we all-too-often suffer from are actually magnesium deficiency symptoms. Almost anyone you come into contact with – especially those with a health problem, but also those with only minor complaints – are suffering in some form from magnesium deficiency.
What is Magnesium?
In addition to being a mineral, magnesium is also an electrolyte. Electrolytes are responsible for all electrical activity in our bodies, including brain conductivity, heartbeat, and muscle movement. Magnesium is essential, as without it we lose the energy and conductivity required to sustain life. Magnesium is a co-factor in over five hundred reactions in the body. It is necessary for cardiovascular health, temperature regulation, transmission of nerve impulses, formation of bones, function of muscles, strong teeth, healthy neurotransmitter production (eg. serotonin and GABA) and detoxification within the liver.
It’s a very busy mineral!
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include joint pain (one of the most common symptoms), muscle cramps and pain, constipation, high blood pressure (hypertension), anxiety, depression, insomnia, lethargy, impaired memory/concentration or slow thinking, headaches, and migraines …and the list goes on!
Magnesium deficiney tends to show up as everyday complaints. Little annoying things that most people will take a pain killer for, or remind themselves to drink more water, eat more fibre, etc. and then immediately put out of their mind. After all, joint pain, headaches, tiredness and an uncomfortable stomach are practically the hallmarks of getting older or just existing in a modern world, right? Actually, no. Almost everyone shows signs of magnesium deficiency, we just don’t realise it.
Reasons for Mineral Deficiency
The most common reason for magnesium deficiency is due to a nutrient-poor diet and high stress levels.
Refined/processed foods are stripped of their vitamin, mineral and fibre content. They are referred to as anti-nutrient foods because they actually steal magnesium from our bodies in order to be metabolised.
It should be noted that athletes and people who participate in regular physical activity require additional magnesium to replenish what is lost through sweating and high demand on muscles for contraction and growth.
The way our foods are processed has created a massive magnesium problem.
– Refined oils remove all traces of magnesium. Safflower seeds, for example, contain 680 mg of magnesium per 1,000 calories. However, safflower oil lacks magnesium entirely!
– Refined grains remove 80-97% of magnesium. At least twenty nutrients are removed when refining flour. And only five are put back in when refined flours are ‘enriched’. As you might have guessed, magnesium is not one of them.
– Refined sugar removes all magnesium. Molasses, which is removed from the sugar cane in refinement, contains up to 25% of the RDA for magnesium in one tablespoon. Sugar has exactly none.
Reduced Soil Magnesium
Unfortunately, processed foods are not the only foods which are devoid of magnesium. Due to the pesticides which are sprayed on all conventionally grown plants and worldwide pollution, magnesium has been depleted from our soil, thus reducing dietary intake overall.
Since 1950, there have been intensive efforts to breed new varieties of fruit and vegetables that have greater yield, or resistance to pests, or adaptability to different climates. But the dominant effort is for higher yields. Emerging evidence suggests that when you select for yield, crops grow bigger and faster, but they don’t necessarily have the ability to make or uptake nutrients at the same rate.
These declines are not limited to vegetable crops. A study by David Thomas published in ‘Nutrition and Health’ examined the average nutritional content of foods across food categories using the UK government’s Composition of Food tables.
Thomas found consistent declines in magnesium across the board:
– Vegetables declined by 24% between 1940 and 1991.
– Fruit declined by 17%
– Meat declined by 15%
– Cheeses declined by 26%
Increased Sugar Intake
Studies demonstrate that we are consuming more sugar than ever before, and for each molecule of sugar we eat, our bodies require 54 molecules of magnesium to process it. Plus, as mentioned, sugar no longer contains magnesium post-processing.
Increased Exposure to Toxins
Increased exposure to drugs and chemicals strip our levels of magnesium as well. Magnesium is depleted by several pharmaceutical drugs and estrogen compounds, including oral contraceptives, antibiotics, steroid medications and blood pressure medication. The diuretic effects of caffeine in tea and coffee also increase excretion levels.
Given our busy lives, stress plays a tremendous factor in our reduced magnesium levels. Stress hormone production requires elevated levels of magnesium and stressful experiences deplete magnesium stores. Any type of stress increases usage of nutrients in the body – whether it is a ‘good’ stress, or an unpleasant stress. When we are under stress, our nervous system switches on the fight or flight response (called the sympathetic nervous system response), a surge of hormones are triggered, and magnesium is needed to build these hormones.
Form of Magnesium and Bio-Availability
Stomach acid is necessary to help absorb magnesium in the stomach. Long term use of antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and other acid-blocking medications can decrease overall stomach acid production and perpetuate poor magnesium absorption.
Then there are a huge range of forms of magnesium which have different levels of bio-availability – meaning its ability to cross through the gut wall and into your bloodstream for your cells to access it.
Some forms of magnesium can absorb through the skin – transdermally – and others don’t absorb and are used for digestive cleansing such as treating constipation. Using the wrong form of magnesium the wrong way (unfortunately a very common occurrence) can also have a big impact on how much magnesium is actually making it into your system.
What are the Benefits of Magnesium?
Most anything which causes you to feel tense and/or tight could potentially be a result of magnesium deficiency. Individuals with chronic illnesses tend to benefit immensely from magnesium supplementation as chronic illness causes stress, and stress depletes magnesium! Listed below are some of the conditions which are likely to involve magnesium deficiency:
– Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
– Adrenal Fatigue
– Atrial Fibrillation
– Heart palpitations
– Heart disease
– Kidney stones
– Muscles cramps
– Restless legs
What are the 3 Best Ways to Naturally Increase Your Magnesium Intake?
1. Eat magnesium rich foods grown in organic soil
2. Spray it onto your skin
3. Bathe in Epsom salts
The evidence is clear – we could all benefit from more magnesium!! Supplementation is often required for this essential nutrient BUT be wary of poorer quality supplements such as Magnesium Oxide, which doesn’t absorb well and is better for treating constipation! Speak to your Lucy Rose Clinic practitioner today about which form and dose of magnesium is best for you or, if you’re new to the clinic, why not grab a free call with the Health Team?