Magnesium, the critical nutrient no one tells you about!
A deficiency in this critical nutrient makes you twice as likely to die as other people, according to a study published in The Journal of Intensive Care Medicine. It also accounts for a long list of symptoms and diseases — which are easily helped and often cured by adding this nutrient. This nutrient is one of my secret weapons against illness. Studies show most Americans are deficient in this nutrient and don’t know it.
I’m talking about magnesium. It is an antidote to stress, the most powerful relaxation mineral available, and it can help improve your sleep. Think of anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff — whether it is a body part or an even a mood — is a sign of magnesium deficiency.
This critical mineral is actually responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions and is found in all of your tissues — but mainly in your bones, muscles, and brain. You must have it for your cells to make energy, for many different chemical pumps to work, to stabilize membranes, and to help muscles relax.
The reason we are so deficient is simple: Many of us eat a diet that contains practically no magnesium — a highly-processed, refined diet that is based mostly on white flour, meat, and dairy (all of which have no magnesium).
When was the last time you had a good dose of seaweed, nuts, greens, and beans? If you are like most Americans, your nut consumption mostly comes from peanut butter.
A good list of early warning symptoms suggestive of magnesium insufficiency:
- Physical and mental fatigue
- Persistent under-eye twitch
- Tension in the upper back, shoulders and neck
- Pre-menstrual fluid retention and/or breast tenderness
Possible manifestations of magnesium deficiency include:
- Low energy
- Seizures (and tantrums)
- Poor digestion
- PMS and hormonal imbalances
- Inability to sleep
- Muscle tension, spasm and cramps
- Calcification of organs
- A weakening of the bones
- Abnormal heart rhythm
Signs of severe magnesium deficiency include:
- Extreme thirst
- Extreme hunger
- Frequent urination
- Sores or bruises that heal slowly
- Dry, itchy skin
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurry vision that changes from day to day
- Unusual tiredness or drowsiness
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
- Frequent or recurring skin, gum, bladder or vaginal yeast infections
NOTE… these are often the same symptoms listed for diabetes. Many people have diabetes for about 5 years before they show strong symptoms. By that time, some people already have eye, kidney, gum or nerve damage caused by the deteriorating condition of their cells due to insulin resistance and magnesium deficiency.
Research relevant to magnesium has been accumulating for the past 40 years at a steady rate of approximately 2,000 new studies a year. The database of studies found at www.greenmedinfo.com
indexed well over 100 health benefits of magnesium
thus far. For the sake of simplicity, below are the seven key therapeutic applications for magnesium:
- Fibromyalgia: Not only is magnesium deficiency common in those diagnosed with fibromyalgia, [ii] [iii] but relatively low doses of magnesium (50 mg), combined with malic acid in the form of magnesium malate, has been clinically demonstrated to improve pain and tenderness in those to which it was administered.[iv]
- Atrial Fibrillation: A number of studies now exist showing that magnesium supplementation reduces atrial fibrillation, either by itself or in combination with conventional drug agents.[v]
- Diabetes, Type 2: Magnesium deficiency is common in type 2 diabetics, at an incidence of 13.5 to 47.7% according to a 2007 study.[vi]
- Premenstrual Syndrome: Magnesium deficiency has been observed in women affected by premenstrual syndrome.[x] It is no surprise therefore that it has been found to alleviate premenstrual symptoms of fluid retention,[xi] as well as broadly reducing associated symptoms by approximately 34% in women, aged 18-45, given 250 mg tablets for a 3-month observational period.[xii] When combined with B6, magnesium supplementation has been found to improve anxiety-related premenstrual symptoms.[xiii]
- Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality: Low serum magnesium concentrations predict cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.[xiv] There are a wide range of ways that magnesium may confer its protective effects.
- Migraine Disorders: Blood magnesium levels have been found to be significantly lower in those who suffer from migraine attacks.[xix] [xx] A recent Journal of Neural Transmission article titled, “Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium,” pointed out that routine blood tests do not accurately convey the true body magnesium stores since less than 2% is in the measurable, extracellular space, “67% is in the bone and 31% is located intracellularly.”[xxi] The authors argued that since “routine blood tests are not indicative of magnesium status, empiric treatment with at least oral magnesium is warranted in all migraine sufferers.” Indeed, oral magnesium supplementation has been found to reduce the number of headache days in children experiencing frequent migranous headaches, [xxii] and when combined with l-carnitine, is effective at reducing migraine frequency in adults, as well.[xxiii]
- Aging: While natural aging is a healthy process, accelerated aging has been noted to be a feature of magnesium deficiency,[xxiv] especially evident in the context of long space-flight missions where low magnesium levels are associated with cardiovascular aging over 10 times faster than occurs on earth.[xxv] Magnesium supplementation has been shown to reverse age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans.[xxvi] One of the possible mechanisms behind magnesium deficiency associated with aging is that magnesium is needed to stabilize DNA and promote DNA replication.
Best Sources of Magnesium In The Diet
The best source of magnesium is from food, and one way to identify magnesium-containing foods are those which are green, i.e. chlorophyll rich. Chlorophyll, which enables plants to capture solar energy and convert it into metabolic energy, has a magnesium atom at its center. Without magnesium, in fact, plants could not utilize the sun’s light energy.
Magnesium, however, in its elemental form is colorless, and many foods that are not green contain it as well. The following foods contain exceptionally high amounts of magnesium. The portions described are 100 grams, or a little over three ounces.
- Rice bran, crude (781 mg)
- Seaweed, agar, dried (770 mg)
- Chives, freeze-dried (640 mg)
- Spice, coriander leaf, dried (694 mg)
- Seeds, pumpkin, dried (535 mg)
- Cocoa, dry powder, unsweetened (499 mg)
- Spices, basil, dried (422 mg)
- Seeds, flaxseed (392 mg)
- Spices, cumin seed (366 mg)
- Nuts, brazilnuts, dried (376 mg)
- Parsley, freeze-dried (372 mg)
- Seeds, sesame meal (346 mg)
- Nut, almond butter (303 mg)
- Nuts, cashew nuts, roasted (273 mg)
- Soy flour, defatted (290 mg)
- Whey, sweet, dried (176 mg)
- Bananas, dehydrated (108 mg)
- Millet, puffed (106 mg)
- Shallots, freeze-dried (104 mg)
- Leeks, freeze-dried (156 mg)
- Fish, salmon, raw (95 mg)
- Onions, dehydrated flakes (92 mg)
- Kale, scotch, raw (88 mg)
Fortunately, for those who need higher doses, or are not inclined to consume magnesium rich foods, there are supplemental forms commonly available on the market.
**Keep in mind, for those who wish to take advantage of the side benefit of magnesium therapy, namely, its stool softening and laxative properties, magnesium citrate or oxide will provide this additional feature.
For those looking to maximize absorption and bioavailability magnesium glycinate is ideal, as glycine is the smallest amino acid commonly found chelated to magnesium, and therefore highly absorbable.
The RDA (the minimum amount needed) for magnesium is about 300 mg a day. Most of us get far less than 200 mg. Some may need much more depending on their condition. Most people benefit from 400 to 1,000 mg a day. The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate taurate, or aspartate, although magnesium bound to Kreb cycle chelates (malate, succinate, fumarate) are also good. Avoid magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide. They are poorly absorbed (and the cheapest and most common forms found in supplements). Side effects from too much magnesium include diarrhea, which can be avoided if you switch to magnesium glycinate. Most minerals are best taken as a team with other minerals in a multi-mineral formula. Taking a hot bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) is a good way to absorb and get much needed magnesium. People with kidney disease or severe heart disease should take magnesium only under a doctor’s supervision. People with kidney disease or severe heart disease should take magnesium only under a doctor’s supervision.
So if you’re coping with the symptoms here, relax! Magnesium is truly a miracle mineral. It is essential for lifelong vibrant health.