Because it regulates more than 600 enzymes which create, transport, store, and utilize energy, magnesium is one of the most important minerals in our body.
Its benefits are far greater than just helping with sleep (sleep is the most common reason people take it). Magnesium keeps our heart rhythms steady, maintains muscle functions, regulates blood pressure, ensures our nerves function properly, regulates blood sugar levels and is important for overall immunity. It also regulates many important aspects of cell metabolism and helps to synthesize the most basic building blocks of life – DNA, RNA, cell reproduction and cell growth.
There is not another mineral that does as much to support your cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems. Vital organs like the heart and brain simply can’t function without it. Without this mineral, hundreds of your body’s chemical processes fall apart. The body simply needs magnesium to survive!
There are also many other vitamins and minerals that rely on magnesium in order to function properly. A recent review published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that vitamin D can’t be metabolized without sufficient magnesium levels. This is disconcerting considering how many of us are now supplementing with vitamin D.
If your vitamin D levels are low, you could be lacking in magnesium as insufficient magnesium will mean insufficient vitamin D.
“People are taking vitamin D supplements but don’t realize how it gets metabolized. Without magnesium, vitamin D is not useful or safe,” says study co-author Mohammed S. Razzaque, MBBS, PhD, a professor of pathology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Dr. Razzaque also notes that “Patients with optimum magnesium levels require less vitamin D supplementation to achieve sufficient vitamin D levels. It also reduces osteoporosis, helping to mitigate the risk of bone fracture that can be attributed to low levels of vitamin D”.
Are you deficient?
Today, most people are deficient in this essential vitamin. It is suspected that 43% of Canadians don’t get the dietary magnesium needed to stay healthy. Considering it’s supposed to be the fourth most abundant mineral in our body, this is not good news.
If left unchecked, a magnesium deficiency can also lead to a potassium deficiency, as potassium is released into the bloodstream and flushed out in urine.
Magnesium deficiency may also prevent calcium pumps from working properly and this can overstimulate the cell, leading to cell death. This might show in the body as muscle spasms or twitching and over time can cause neurodegenerative diseases.
Have you ever finished a workout and later experienced muscle cramps? This might be a sign your muscle cells are not able to restore your calcium balance. Muscle contraction is the classic example of how magnesium and calcium balance each other out in the body.
Ever had a tension headache? Well….tension headaches are also caused by too much contraction in the head and neck. Instead of popping a pain reliever, pop some magnesium!
Why are so many of us deficient?
We are no longer able to obtain magnesium from our food as we did in days past. Modern day farming practices have depleted the soil by overworking it and by applying pesticide. Most farmers do not re-mineralize their soil and the fertilizers they do use mainly only replace nitrogen and potassium.
Magnesium levels are also lowered due to certain lifestyle factors such as drinking alcohol, as well as taking certain medications such as birth-control pills, insulin, antibiotics, using antacids and taking supplemental calcium. Vaccines may also deplete your magnesium levels as will consuming a diet of processed foods high in refined grains, fat, phosphate and sugar.
Common Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
- Acid reflux and heartburn
- Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Anxiety, stress and panic attacks
- Blood clotting
- Angina, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions
- Blood sugar sensitivities
- Bone and teeth building
- Vitamin D deficiencies
- Calcium deficiencies
- Migraines and headaches
- Sensitivity to loud noises
How to get enough.
In addition to eating magnesium rich foods such as dark leafy vegetables, bananas, mushrooms, oatmeal, seaweed, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and dairy products, you may need to also take a supplement as it is difficult to get enough magnesium from diet alone.
Another way to get magnesium is to add Epson salts to your bath. These salts are absorbed through the skin and will help replenish your magnesium stores.
How much should I take?
According to Dr. Thomas Levy, MD, JD, a board-certified cardiologist and author of six books on health-related issues, the best answer to this is “as much as can be tolerated, bowel-wise”. Dr. Levy suggests that the “minimal daily dose for most adults is 500mg, and depending on one’s bowel sensitivities, such a dose would have to be taken in divided doses and with meals.”
What supplemental form is right for me?
Oral magnesium supplementation is virtually non-toxic in individuals with normal kidney function but be sure to check with your doctor before starting with a supplement. There are many different forms of magnesium, but Dr. Levy recommends supplementing with one (or a combination of) the following; glycinate, citrate, phosphate, carbonate, or chloride.
If you decide to supplement with magnesium, try to keep a journal to track how you are feeling over a two to three-month period while supplementing. If any symptoms that were unrelated to anything clear up– you were most likely simply deficient!
Interested in learning more about how to keep your body healthy? Read more on our Body Works blog!