You’ve probably heard of magnesium, and you likely know that it’s an important mineral to support our bones. But it is really more important than just that for our bodies! It can help with many other bodily functions and is one important supplement that is often overlooked and underestimated.
Magnesium also plays a ‘relaxation’ role by helping enzymes, hormones and other neurotransmitters that help with mood regulation, which means it might also help you with depression. Other health issues it can assist with include treating diabetes, lowering your risk of heart disease and strokes. Sure, you can get magnesium from the foods in your diet, but many do not eat properly, or take in enough of it to help adequately.
Seventeen minerals are considered essential while only seven of them produce 99% of our bodily functions: magnesium, sulfur, chlorine, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and sodium. Magnesium alone has several essential functions: it catalyzes most chemical reactions, including temperature, transports and produces energy, synthesizes protein, transmits nerve signals and helps to relax muscles. Nevertheless, you can see the importance of its function when you review the long list of ailments that show up with a deficiency in this mineral. Some people have seen improvement using magnesium for knee pain, sugar/carb cravings, facial wrinkles, reducing migraines, ability to exercise more, sleep improvement, have energy into the evening, and better concentration.
How do you know if you are deficient in this mineral? Many Americans are deficient in minerals because the soils where our food is grown are depleted of the essential minerals we need. The S.A.D. (standard American diet) is often high in sugar and simple carbs which also rid you of magnesium. Those who drink soda can be deficient because sugar uses up magnesium. Luncheon meats and hot dogs, as well as carbonated beverages contain phosphates, which bind with magnesium, making into a non-absorbable magnesium phosphate. Also, candida, along with exposure to other noxious things such as alcohol consumption, automobile exhaust, cigarette smoking and using high fructose corn syrup increase yeast production which can be broken down by magnesium.
Here is a lengthy list alphabetically of many health conditions associated with a magnesium deficiency:
Acid reflux, adrenal fatigue, Alzheimer’s disease, angina, anxiety and panic attacks, arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis with calcium deposits, blood clots, bowel disease, brain dysfunction, cholesterol elevation, cystitis, depression, detoxification, diabetes, fatigue, headaches, heart disease, hypertension, hypoglycemia, indigestion, inflammation, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney disease, kidney stones, migraine, musculoskeletal conditions (muscle cramps, fibrositis, fibromyalgia, GI spasms, tension headaches, chronic neck and back pain), nerve problems (seizures, paralysis, confusion), obstetrical and gynecological problems (PMS, SIDS, etc.), osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, Raynaud’s syndrome, sports injuries, sports recovery and tooth decay. If you are taking magnesium and still have symptoms, you may not be taking enough. Granted it is not a cure all for all of these conditions, but it certainly may help ease them. And most prescriptions come with side effects.
There are many things that interfere with our absorption or retention of magnesium and these are important to notate as you have some control over them. One is fluoride. Many European countries have abandoned the use of fluoride in the water supply. It is still used in the U.S. in toothpaste and antidepressants like Prozac. The problem is that fluoride binds with magnesium and makes it impossible to do its job properly. Fluoride also has other harmful affects to the body, which I won’t go into, but I have switched my toothpaste to one without it. Absorption of magnesium can be impaired by other conditions like unhealthy intestines, rate of water absorption, the amount of potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium and lactose which inhibit absorption. If you take iron, don’t take it with magnesium at the same time of day.
Drugs used commonly can also create deficiencies in magnesium: diuretics, bronchodilators, birth control pills, insulin, digitalis, tetracycline and some antibiotics, corticosteroids, cocaine and nicotine. Type A personalities who live on adrenaline and stress, often drain a body of magnesium. Junk foods, processed and packaged foods are lacking in important nutrients. Once the diet is changed, improvement will occur. It’s also important to have regular bowel movements, otherwise toxins can be reabsorbed back into the body from the colon. The longer this debris sits around and fluid is reabsorbed, the harder the stools are to pass. If you experiment with magnesium levels, you are taking too much if you end up with diarrhea.
There are many books on the topic, and I recommend the one I used for most of this information which includes much more than explored here: The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean. M.D. If you feel you are deficient in magnesium by reviewing the list and knowing how your body feels, discuss it with your doctor (can be tested) and play with the amount of magnesium your body needs to function well. I recommend CALM, which is a powder sold that you mix with water to drink. I take that and another tablet at bedtime. It helps quite a bit with leg cramps as well as reducing my sodium consumption in the evening especially.
You can supplement to get magnesium, but it is also found in many foods that we eat, so I encourage you to include these in your diet as well. Some of the foods with magnesium are greens, nuts, seeds, dry beans, whole grains, wheat germ, wheat and oat bran. (Please make sure any bread you buy doesn’t have sugar, high fructose corn syrup or propylene glycol).
Please read up more on magnesium and make sure you include it in your diet. Hoping you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results!