Magnesium is all over the place. It’s one of the top ten most abundant minerals on the entire planet. It’s also one of the top five most abundant minerals within the human body, about half of it found in the bones. It’s everywhere but somehow millions of people suffer from magnesium deficiency without even knowing it as there aren’t many accurate tests out there to find out if you’re in dire need of magnesium, but there are symptoms that indicate your body would benefit from it.
Why You Need Magnesium
Over 300 different reactions in your body require the right amount of magnesium. High amounts of it are found within the soft tissue of the brain and heart, two major systems that depend on the mineral to operate efficiently. It helps regulate your body temperature and rid the body of toxins. The list of health benefits is far too lengthy to detail, but here are a few key advantages attributed to magnesium intake:
- Regulating blood pressure
- Reversing osteoporosis
- Preventing heart disease
- Treating diabetes
- Alleviating depression and anxiety
- Curing sleep disorders
- Strengthening bones
- Creating proteins
- Helping weight loss
- Encouraging healthy circulation
- Treating asthma
- Preventing stroke
Magnesium, Vitamin D & Calcium
We’ve all heard how important calcium is for strong bones and immunity but without the right amount of magnesium, calcium can actually be dangerous. Once the body has benefited from calcium the magnesium helps flush it out of the cells. Without enough magnesium the calcium accumulates and acts as a toxin rather than being absorbed into the bones healthily.
Just as calcium depends on magnesium, magnesium depends on vitamin D for proper absorption. Magnesium isn’t absorbed well during digestion so if you’re low on vitamins you could be consuming magnesium but not getting all the benefits. Finding a balance between these three essentials is ideal for maintaining health.
How to Identify a Magnesium Deficiency
It’s not terribly difficult to determine if you’re deficient since the overwhelming majority of people on the planet are. It is estimated that 68 to 80 percent of Americans weren’t getting the proper amount of magnesium in their system. A magnesium test checks the level of magnesium in the blood. However most of the magnesium in the body is found in the bones and inside the cells and only a tiny amount of magnesium is normally present in the blood. Hence there aren’t many accurate tests out there to find out if you’re in dire need of magnesium, but there are symptoms that indicate your body would benefit from it.
Some small indicators include a lack of focus and energy throughout the day. You may tire easily and find difficulty concentrating. Magnesium deficient people tend to be irritable and experience heightened levels of stress and anxiety. Listed below are some common symptoms of deficiency:
- Noise sensitivity
- Sleep disorders
- Frequent headache
- Digestive issues
- Temperature swings
- Muscle tightness
There are also more serious indicators. You may experience a lack of appetite or feelings of sickness. If left unattended symptoms can worsen into abnormal heartbeats, seizures, and drastic mood swings.
Why we are Magnesium Deficient
- Industrial agriculture depletes the soil of nutrients. Rather than fertilizing with rich, vibrant compost, we treat the soil with synthetic fertilizers. As a result magnesium has been depleted from topsoil, diminishing its dietary intake.
- Refined/processed foods are stripped of their mineral, vitamin, and fiber content.
- Municipal water-purification facilities have intensified their efforts to remove contaminants like lead, pesticide residues, and nitrates from drinking water. Unfortunately, these modern water-treatment methods also deplete drinking water of desirable minerals like calcium and magnesium. Exacerbating this problem is that many people have added home water filters that extract any remaining minerals from the water.
Diseases Caused by Magnesium Deficiency
Since magnesium is so essential to bodily processes, a lack of it can contribute to a wide variety of health issues. Without the right amount of this crucial mineral you could be putting yourself at risk for some serious health issues.
Because of the way it interacts with calcium, a lack of magnesium could contribute to the development of osteoporosis and frail bone health. There has also been a connection with the prevention of heart disease and heart attacks. Sudden heart attack death victims are commonly found to have low levels of magnesium.
A lack of magnesium could also contribute to the development of kidney stones. The mineral makes calcium dissolve much more effectively in the urine. Without this you could prevent painful kidney stones from forming. Some other diseases caused by magnesium deficiency include PMS, high blood pressure, menstrual cramping, insomnia and cancer. A magnesium deficiency can lead to involuntary muscle spasms, including eyelid twitching.
How to Stay Magnesium Sufficient
The first step in maintaining healthy levels of magnesium is identifying the root of the problem. For most people, it lies within a restricted diet. New advances in farming have drained crops of magnesium and ruined foods that were once great sources. Water used to also be a good source of magnesium but the fluoride being added makes it harder for the body to break down the minerals.
There are also several habits that contribute to magnesium depletion. Drinking caffeine daily (especially with loads of sugar), eating too much processed foods, and drinking lots of alcohol are all habits that can lower mineral levels. There are also certain types of medication like birth control pills and diuretics that deplete magnesium. Consult your physician if you’re taking any medication and concerned about your magnesium levels.
What You Can Do
The best food sources for magnesium are usually vegetables and nuts. There are plenty of fruits and whole grains that can also give you a magnesium boost. Next time you go shopping consider some of the following items for your list:
- Dark Leafy Greens (like spinach and kale)
- Sunflower/Pumpkin Seeds
- Lentils and Beans
- Brown Rice
- Dark Chocolate Bars or Powder
Sadly now that farm soil has been depleted of minerals we can’t rely on diet alone for proper magnesium intake. If you can, gravitate toward foods that are organic and non-processed. If you have trouble eating vegetables try finding a juicing routine that fits your taste.
Some people have turned to the use of supplements. Magnesium supplements can be found in powder form, liquid, capsules or tablets. You can find inexpensive products that feature magnesium citrate , which is among the most readily absorbed forms of magnesium supplements.
Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, dietary supplements should be taken only under the supervision of your health care provider.