Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in our bodies and its role in our overall health may have been underestimated until recently. It can be found in over 300 different enzymes in our body and is a key player in the body’s detoxification process.
Proper levels of magnesium are also necessary for:
- Activating muscles and nerves
- Creating energy in your body
- Efficiently digesting proteins, carbohydrates, and fats
Being deficient in magnesium is often referred to as the “invisible deficiency” because it’s hard to detect. Only 1% of our body’s magnesium is stored in the blood, and the rest is in our organs and bones where it is used for a variety of biological functions. This means a blood test isn’t sufficient to determine if there is a deficiency.
And because it’s difficult to measure, being deficient is a real possibility. Dr. Danine Fruge, Associate Medical Director at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, Florida says that only about 25% of U.S. adults are at or above the recommended daily amount of magnesium. That means 75% of us aren’t.
Magnesium is often thought of primarily as a mineral for your heart and bones, but this is misleading. Researchers have now detected 3,751 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins, another indication that its role in human health and disease may be misunderstood.
In fact, studies show that severe magnesium deficiencies play a role in the top four killers:
- Cancer (all types)
- Ischaemic heart disease
These diseases not only kill, but they also contribute dramatically to the quality of life for both for the victim and their families.
Dr. Carol Dean, the author of The Magnesium Miracle, included 22 scientifically-proven medical areas that Magnesium deficiency triggers or causes. These include:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Blood clots
- Bowel diseases
- Heart Disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Musculoskeletal condition
- Female medical conditions
- Raynaud’s syndrome
- Tooth decay
What Causes a Magnesium Deficiency?
With an estimated 75 percent of the US population suffering from a magnesium deficiency, it’s important to understand the reasons why. It is the first step in understanding the problem and beginning a course of action to correct it. Here are four reasons we may be suffering from a Magnesium deficiency.
- Our diet. Mass-produced foods are stripped of magnesium through the manufacturing processes. Instead of processed foods, eat a diet rich in natural, organic and whole foods.
- For every molecule of sugar we eat, our bodies require 54 molecules of magnesium to process it.
- We are stressed out. Stress hormone production uses magnesium and the more stressed out we are, the more depleted our stores of magnesium are.
- The drugs we ingest for pain, to regulate blood pressure, and other diseases depletes our magnesium levels.
Signs of a Magnesium Deficiency
Early signs of magnesium deficiency include physical and mental fatigue, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, and headaches.
But it’s an ongoing magnesium deficiency where the real danger lies. Longer-term signs may include:
- Numbness and tingling in your arms and legs
- Muscle spasms and cramps
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Depression and other personality changes
How to Get More Magnesium
The good news is, it’s almost impossible to overdose on magnesium. There are, however, side effects of consuming too much magnesium that include slow breathing and an irregular heartbeat.
Of course, the best course of action when trying to increase your intake of any vitamin or mineral is to do it naturally through your food. Here is where choosing organic can play a role. Most of the food grown for mass production is lower in magnesium levels because it is depleted in overused top soil that is sprayed with pesticides.
Some foods high in magnesium include:
- Seeds, specifically sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds
- Dark leafy greens, specifically spinach, kale and swiss chard
- Nuts, specifically almonds, cashews and pine nuts
- Dark Chocolate
Some other ways in which you can increase your magnesium intake are:
- Soak in Epsom salts. It not only provides a healthy dose of magnesium but also helps pull toxins from your skin.
- Rub magnesium oil into your skin. Your skin absorbs up to 70% of what is applied to it and quickly puts it to work in your body.
- Take a magnesium supplement. Not all magnesium supplements are created equal, so check with your doctor or naturopath for their recommendations.
It’s important to listen to your body. And while a magnesium deficiency can contribute to many different ailments, it doesn’t necessarily mean the ailment is from a deficiency in magnesium.
We caution everyone about self-diagnosing and recommend you see your wellness advocate if specific symptoms persist. This article was written to help spread the awareness of magnesium deficiency and is in no way intended to act as medical advice.