Magnesium is important for maintaining a healthy body and mind
Magnesium is a strong, light metal that is widely used in the industry, and it is also an element of vital importance in the human body. Magnesium is critical to about 350 processes in the body—It contributes to enzyme and muscular function, and neuronal transmission. Magnesium is also vital to digestion, energy production and transmission, bone growth and repair. It helps in processes that relate to the creation of new cells. It makes minerals like calcium, and B vitamins usable and helps, keep the brain, heart, kidneys, adrenal glands and nervous system in working order.
The normal serum magnesium concentration ranges from 0.7 to 1.2 mmol/l in adults, but studies have found that a distressingly high proportion of the European population is deficient in magnesium. A deficiency in magnesium can result in declining health and, at times, acute organ failure. Low levels of serum magnesium go unnoticed because the associated symptoms fail to show for quite some time.
Causes of Magnesium Deficiency
- Diet Rich in Processed Foods: Modern diets are diets high in carbohydrates, sodium, or calcium. There is excessive consumption of caffeine, sugar, alcohol and tobacco leading to reduction of magnesium in the body.
- Poor Quality of Foods: Foods nowadays are generally less nutritious than they used to be. With every crop the concentration of nutrients in the soil decreases, so plants absorb fewer nutrients. Our fertilizers mainly cover nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, but magnesium and other minerals are left out. Thus, we get fewer nutrients despite what seems like a bountiful harvest.
- Soft Water: Earlier people used to get some of their magnesium from their well water and tap water. This water (called “hard” water) had many essentials minerals in it. Softening of water, a common practice, now makes the water clear, tasteless and convenient, but also robs it of supplementary minerals.
- Too Much Calcium in Your Diet: Magnesium helps absorb calcium into the body. However, when there is a lot of calcium to be processed, your body often pulls out magnesium from the tissues to handle the task. For example, pasteurized milk, which has a calcium-to-magnesium ratio of 8 to 1, can deplete your bioavailable magnesium.
- Mental Stress also depletes magnesium from our body.
- Medical conditions like diabetes, chronic pain, burns and some medicines also cause magnesium deficiency.
- Sweating too much, and excessive use of diuretics can also deplete your magnesium
Effects of Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium plays a major role in the release of energy from food and also the transfer and storage of energy in the body. If there is not enough magnesium, the body’s cells cannot produce energy efficiently, and as a result you slowly become tired and weak.
Magnesium ions play vital roles in the nervous system, and when there is not enough magnesium, nerves are unable to send or receive messages and they compensate by becoming hyper-sensitive. As a result, you may feel jumpy, irate, and ill at ease. Sleeping may also be difficult when you lack magnesium.
Without sufficient magnesium, your muscles may spasm. If you are experiencing muscle spasms, tics, cramps or frequent hiccupping, then you may want to supplement your diet with magnesium.
For women, magnesium is even more important. A lack of magnesium can worsen PMS and hormonal imbalances, which can be aggravated further by too much calcium. Magnesium supplements can ease your troubles during your time of the month.
Where do I get magnesium?
A great starting point for getting magnesium is from the food you eat. Eat plenty of green vegetables. These contain chlorophyll, which is partially composed of magnesium. Legumes, seeds, and nuts are good sources of magnesium . For a detailed list of foods rich in magnesium, please read this article Magnesium Food Sources. Unrefined wheat is high in magnesium, but refined forms, such as white flour, are not. This is because much of the magnesium is in the wheat germ and bran [1,2].
However, relying on food as a source of magnesium may not be advisable because of several reasons. One of these is the natural process of aging. As we age, our stomachs produce less hydrochloric acid. With less of this acid to go around, digestion becomes less efficient, and we miss out on the nutrients in the food we eat.
Magnesium supplements are a good way to add this vital mineral to your diet. Select a Magnesium supplement that is easily absorbed by the body. Avoid supplements that include magnesium in an inorganic oxide form, which though less expensive, is less easily absorbed. Choose instead a supplement like Mag365 which offers a proprietary from of magnesium citrate that provides far better absorption.
Magnesium should be taken with your other supplements and/or food. Split your supplemental intake into two or more doses daily.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2003. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 16. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page, http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp.
- Rude RK. 1998. “Magnesium deficiency: A cause of heterogeneous disease in humans”. J Bone Miner Res 1998;13:749-58. [PubMed abstract]
- Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. 1999. "Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride". National Academy Press, Washington, DC.