Magnesium is generally an abundant mineral in the body which is utilized within every organ, especially your heart, muscles and kidneys.
However there are certain lifestyle habits which we will explore further that can diminish the magnesium stored in the body.
Leading researcher of magnesium health Carolyn Dean, M.D. N.D. has studied and written about magnesium for more than 15 years. Her recent book, The Magnesium Miracle details 22 areas that magnesium deficiency manifests in the body which have all been scientifically proven.
According to Dr. Dean and other researchers in the field, early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, headache, muscle cramps and pain, facial tics, nausea, sleep difficulties, fatigue and weakness.
Ongoing deficiency can lead to more serious symptoms, including:
Musculoskeletal dysfunction such as Numbness and tingling, cramps and chronic back pain; Osteoporosis; Fibromyalgia and Insomnia; Depression, Anxiety and panic attacks; Asthma; Raynaud’s syndrome and Blood clots; Constipation and Bowel diseases; Heart disease, Cystitis, Kidney and Liver disease; Diabetes and Hypoglycemia; Nerve problems, Hypertension, Seizures and more.
But how can you know whether you’re getting enough?
According to studies of average magnesium intake, it is very likely that you’re not.
Most magnesium is stored in your bones and organs, where it is used for many biological functions, making a blood test unreliable and it is quite possible to be deficient and not know about it.
Researchers estimate up to 80 percent of those in the western world may be deficient.
Common Causes of Magnesium Deficiency
To many phosphates from carbonated beverages, excess alcohol and caffeinated beverages, refined sugar, high stress hormone levels – adrenaline and cortisol.
Older adults are particularly vulnerable to magnesium deficiency due to an increase in the need for magnesium because of illness, stress, medication and so on depleting the body and yet they take in less magnesium from food sources than younger individuals.
In addition, magnesium absorption from the gut decreases and renal magnesium excretion increases with age.
The Benefits of Magnesium
The role Magnesium has in human health and preventing disease has been completely underestimated.
Magnesium activates over 300 enzyme reactions that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, such as energy production, nerve impulse conduction, protein synthesis, blood glucose metabolism, detoxification processes, blood pressure regulation and normal heart rhythm. It even helps lower your risk of cancer.
Magnesium is required for a plethora of other important bodily functions including healthy bowel movements and some experts tout it as “the missing link to total health”.
In this article I’m especially interested in the role it plays with your musculoskeletal system.
Multiple studies have also shown that higher magnesium intake is associated with a higher bone mineral density in both men and women, preventing Osteoporosis.
Also, if you have joint pain due to certain medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and so on, magnesium supplementation could ease the aches.
Neuromuscular activity is greatly influenced and regulated by the body’s magnesium status.
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have proven that Magnesium is a required element of muscle relaxation, particularly if you have muscle pain or spasms.
In fact without it our muscles would be in a constant state of contraction.
Magnesium supplementation could help treat muscle aches due to dysmenorrhea and also medical conditions like fibromyalgia, restless legs syndrome and others.
Additionally, magnesium helps to block excess calcium from depositing in your muscles.
Considering these varied effects it is obvious that we need adequate amounts of it in our diet.
Tips for Increasing Your Magnesium Levels
The adequate intake (AI) on average is around 350mg per day.
Seaweed and green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard are excellent sources of magnesium, especially by juicing them to extract as much nutrient as possible in a concentrated form; as are Avocados, beans, whole grains and some nuts such as almonds, and seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds.
However, most foods grown today are deficient in magnesium and other minerals, and even organic may not be completely satisfactory either, so getting enough isn’t simply a matter of eating foods rich in magnesium, it may be necessary to add supplementation to your diet.
There are different types of Magnesium supplementation options, each varying in bioavailability, and may provide slightly different, or targeted, health benefits. I’ll just share a few here:
Magnesium threonate, glycinate and citrate are some of the best sources on the market.
They have high bioavailability and penetrate blood-brain barrier and cell membranes, including your mitochondria, which results in higher energy levels and are typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency.
Magnesium oxide is best for constipation and Magnesium taurate contains magnesium and taurine amino acid combined together providing a calming effect on your body and mind.
Whatever supplement you choose, be sure to avoid any containing the common but potentially hazardous additive, magnesium stearate.
One of the most effective ways to improve your magnesium levels is through the skin directly to the cells using topical magnesium products such as magnesium sulphate as you bathe. This bypasses many of the problems associated with low magnesium absorption.
According to noted magnesium researcher Mildred Seelig, when you’re taking magnesium, you need to consider calcium. Research on the Paleolithic diet has shown that the ratio of calcium to magnesium in the diet should be at 1-to-1.
The same is true for taking calcium, you want to make sure it is balanced with the magnesium otherwise your muscles will tend to go into spasm, and this has consequences for your heart in particular. (Watch for too much Zinc intake also when you are magnesium deficient.)
When balancing calcium and magnesium also keep in mind that you need to increase your vitamins K2 and D3 as all these four nutrients all work synergistically with one another.
Many muscle pain related issues may be due to deficiency and I would get some magnesium to help relieve muscle tension as part of your overall treatment approach.