Do you have any of the following health issues?
Anxiety and panic attacks
Diabetes, High Blood Sugar or Metabolic Syndrome
Heart Palpitations, or Arrythmias
Insomnia or Restless Sleeping
Gallstones or Kidney Stones
Muscle Spasms or Twitching
Restless Legs Syndrome
If any of the above apply to you, it’s very possible you have a magnesium deficiency.
Recent studies show about 80% of the population is deficient in this vital mineral.
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in our bodies.
About 60-65% of the magnesium found in our bodies in stored in our bones, about 25% percent is in our muscles, and the rest is in our blood and cells. Magnesium can’t be made by our bodies, so we have to get it through our diet or supplements.
The problem is, most of our diets are magnesium poor. And many of the foods that contain magnesium just don’t have the amounts they used to have. So, as a result, the majority of the population is walking around magnesium-deficient, and dealing with one or more of the health issues above.
Who is at risk for a magnesium deficiency?
• Athletes who work out regularly, especially in warm weather
• Diets low in dark green leafy vegetables, nuts or seeds
• Consuming sugar or sugary products
• Anyone who drinks alcohol regularly
• Those on a restricted calorie (less than 2000 calories) or low carb diet
• People on particular types of medication
• Those with digestive issues such as celiac disease, IBS or crohn’s disease
Magnesium plays a very important role in over 325 bodily functions. It is one of the primary factors in our ability to utilize protein, carbohydrates and fats. Without magnesium, energy in the form of ATP, cannot be stored or utilized properly in our muscles, and it increases our demand for oxygen, decreasing athletic performance.
There is strong evidence that magnesium requirements are much higher in athletes, and athletic performance may benefit from higher intakes.
Aside from being used up in the production of energy, magnesium assists performance by reducing accumulation of lactic acid and reducing the feelings of fatigue during strenuous exercise. Magnesium is also lost through sweat, so athletes training hard in hot and humid environments need even more.
Because magnesium is so vitally important, nearly every body system is affected by a magnesium shortfall.
Just a few of the things magnesium is responsible for:
• Supplies strength and flexibility to your bones and prevents osteoporosis
• Regulates and lowers blood pressure
• Prevents or stops gallstone and kidney stone formation
• Promotes deep, restful sleep
• Soothes muscle cramps and spasms
• Lowers cholesterol levels and triglycerides
• Helps diabetics maintain proper blood sugar levels
• Can prevent arthrosclerosis and stroke
• Stops migraine headaches
• Relieves chronic pain
• Effectively reduces or stops asthma attacks
• Helps the body metabolize nutrients
• Has a mild laxative effect
• Prevents heart attacks and maintains a regular heartbeat
• Improves mood and has a calming effect
• Improves muscle strength and endurance
• Ends urinary urge incontinence
So you see, this often overlooked mineral is pretty important for good health and optimal functioning of the body and mind.
One of the problems with magnesium is that there isn’t really an easy way to measure how much or how little you have in your body. So, you can be moderately low for a long time and not even know, until the symptoms become more severe.
Researchers found low levels of magnesium cause cells to age more quickly, and this may be one of the causes of long-term chronic disease.
Another interesting thing—an overabundance of calcium causes an imbalance between the delicate ratio of calcium and magnesium in the body.
Magnesium and calcium work together synergistically and having both in the right amounts is vital. The problem is, the focus has been on getting loads of calcium in the diet, and everywhere you look there are calcium supplements and calcium-fortified foods.
But, even with many people consuming plenty of calcium, bone diseases like osteoporosis are still epidemic, affecting 55% of people over the age of 50! And if you are a big consumer of calcium or dairy products, you are most likely magnesium deficient.
As a result, many people have calcium to magnesium ratio that is way out of balance.
Calcium in our bodies is an ‘exciter’. It causes muscle–both smooth and skeletal–to contract. Magnesium is a relaxor. It counteracts and balances calcium’s effect.
Excess calcium without the other minerals and nutrients it needs, gets stored in places you don’t want it. Excess calcium gets stuck in your joints, where it can cause arthritis or gout, it gets stuck in your kidneys or gall bladder where it can form painful stones, and it gets stuck in your arteries, where it causes the calcified plaque that contributes to heart disease.
The message here is this: you need about twice as much magnesium in your diet as calcium.
How to get more magnesium?
Foods high in magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, mustard greens, collard greens or swiss chard. Some other good sources are broccoli, summer squash, raw almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.
Conventionally grown vegetables are much lower in magnesium content than the organic versions, so for the most magnesium, buy organic and locally grown.
To be sure you getting enough magnesium, taking a supplement may be the best choice. Magnesium supplements come in a chelated or non-chelated form. The chelated type of magnesium is absorbed better than non-chelated forms.
Chelated forms include: magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium aspartate, and magnesium taurate. Non-chelated forms include magnesium oxide, magnesium sulfate, and magnesium carbonate.
Magnesium is inexpensive and generally safe, but too much of a good thing is not so good. Generally most people should supplement about 200 to 600 milligrams of magnesium daily. Larger doses can cause loose stools or diarrhea.
Magnesium is best absorbed in small, frequent doses; so, it is better to take 100mgs three times a day than 300mgs or more all at once.
Magnesium is absolutely essential to your good health, athletic performance and optimal and function of your body. There is virtually no one that cannot benefit greatly from increasing daily magnesium intake.
Till next time,
Stay healthy, energetic and lean!
P.S. Find healthy sources of magnesium and delicious recipes chock full of the vitamins and minerals you need in my Superfoods recipe book!!
Catherine (Cat) Ebeling RN BSN,is a back to basics diet and nutrition specialist. In addition to her advanced degree in nursing from a major medical school, she has spent the last 30 years intensely studying diet, health and nutrition. She also has a book titled “The Fat Burning Kitchen, Your 24 Hour Diet Transformation” that has sold over 60,000 copies worldwide, and has helped thousands of people transform their lives, lose weight and improve their health.