I have been hearing a lot of noise about Magnesium lately from word of mouth and by reading articles and blogs. It is such an amazing and important mineral that people don’t even realise they need.
Low levels of systemic Magnesium in the human body is what is known as Magnesium Deficiency or hypomagnesemia.
Up to 15% of the population suffer from its effect with the major causative factor being poor diet. (Wikipedia)
Due to the fact that Magnesium has so many health benefits, a deficiency can be incredibly detrimental to one’s health indeed. So in order to find out just what is magnesium deficiency, we must first look at the jobs that magnesium does in the body.
What is Magnesium and Why is it Such a Big Deal?
Magnesium is the second most prevalent element in human cells and it serves literally hundreds of enzymatic and metabolic functions at a cellular level.
It plays an essential role in cardiac function, neurotransmission and neuromuscular activity. Half of the magnesium in the body is in the skeleton and most of the remainder is found within the cells with only 1% in the blood.
After the bones, the biggest concentration of magnesium in the body in found in the heart.
Magnesium is responsible for a healthy heart by sustaining smooth muscle contractions and a regular heartbeat while maintaining normal blood pressure by facilitating vasodilation (the relaxation and widening of blood vessels.)
Magnesium helps with bone formation by supporting the osteoblasts and osteoclasts in their function of making and strengthening bones.
High magnesium intake directly benefits your skeletal system by preventing bone degeneration and encouraging new bone cell formation.
Magnesium is an important co-factor to starting and stopping enzyme function in the gut.
Enzymes are imperative to breaking down glucose, cholesterol, protein and fat in our digestive systems and they can’t work without the help of the co-factors, one of which is Magnesium.
Cells are the building blocks of life, and all living things are made out of these cells. We really want these cells and their DNA to maintain stability while avoiding gene mutations.
Magnesium provides assistance to the vital function of RNA and DNA at a cellular level by stabilizing DNA structures and repairing damaged DNA.
With insufficient levels of Magnesium, cell synthesis and cell turnover is much slower.
Adenosine tri-phosphate or ATP is a molecule found within the cell and it is the fuel for the power of the cells.
Without enough magnesium, the food we consume would not be broken down into glucose molecules and these molecules would not be further broken into usable ATP. ATP is used in protein synthesis, cell reproduction and muscle contraction so magnesium is an essential part in a whole set of drastically important chain reactions in your body.
The basic function of magnesium and ATP is to ensure we have enough energy to function and do not suffer from fatigue.
Ease Anxiety and Relax the Brain
Magnesium is vital in the function of neurotransmitters responsible for ‘feel good’ hormones such as serotonin.
These hormones are an essential part in relaxing the brain which helps us to have a normal night’s sleep.
Within every cell in the body, the four main minerals are constantly working hard to maintain a delicate balance we call haemostasis.
To achieve this equilibrium, the minerals magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium are constantly passing backwards and forwards across the cell membrane. ATP, the energy molecule is needed to maintain the balance by providing the energy for the mineral molecules to pass back and forth.
When the delicate electrolyte balance is in turmoil, you end up with problems with muscle contractions (cramps), cardiac arrhythmias and nerve impulses.
What is Magnesium Deficiency?
Along with calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorous and chloride, Magnesium is one of the 6 ‘Macro Minerals’ which the body needs in large quantities to function at optimum levels.
Because Magnesium cannot be manufactured by the body, it must be consumed and the recommended dietary intake is 350mg daily.
Worryingly, 68% of people in the US do not meet the dietary intake requirements for Magnesium (Wikipedia) and so these are the people at risk for magnesium deficiency.
Do I Get Enough Magnesium?
One way to discover what your magnesium levels are is to have blood tests with your doctor. However only a very small amount of magnesium in the body is actually found within the blood so health practitioners will not rely on blood tests alone to diagnose a magnesium deficiency.
A doctor will test your blood for serum magnesium but also examine your lifestyle for risk factors and keep an eye out for the telltale signs and symptoms listed below.
Some risk factors for magnesium deficiency are:
Stress – either emotional or physical eg. surgery
High intake of refined sugar – this uses more magnesium up to digest
Regular consumption of carbonated drinks – the substances in sodas actually bind with magnesium molecules and render it unusable to the body.
More than 7 alcoholic beverages per week – increases the excretion of magnesium by the kidneys
Caffeine – causes extra magnesium release through kidneys.
Calcium supplements – too much calcium in the body requires larger amounts of magnesium as well
Medications – diuretics, heart medication and estrogen therapy can all effect magnesium excretion.
What are the Symptoms and Signs?
Some of the classic neurological and neuromuscular signs of magnesium deficiency are:
- Facial tics
- Muscle spasms
- Sleep disturbances
- Eye twitches
- Severe pain disorders such as Fibromyalgia
What is Magnesium Deficiency Doing to my Body?
Long term magnesium deficiency and consistently low dietary intake can seriously deplete your body’s magnesium stores and lead to chronic hypomagnesemia and have drastic effects on your body systems.
Some diseases which may be caused directly or indirectly from magnesium deficiency include:
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Cardiovascular Disease and Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Liver and Kidney dysfunction and damage
Magnesium deficiency has also been associated with pre-eclampsia in pregnancy, migraines, Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis.
How do I Increase my Magnesium Intake?
A balanced diet low in refined sugars and high in magnesium rich foods is the easiest way to increase your magnesium levels. To get your 350mg per day is possible by looking closely at the foods you eat.
Sources of dietary magnesium include:
- Milk and dairy products
- Wholegrain cereals such as multigrain bread, brown rice, pumpkin seeds
- Nuts and legumes – black beans, kidney beans, almonds, cashews
- Green leafy vegetables: kale, spinach, silverbeet, broccolli, brussels sprouts
- Avocados and bananas
If your dietary intake is not sufficient enough to meet your body’s magnesium requirements, then perhaps you need to look at a magnesium supplement.
There are a variety of different forms of magnesium supplements on the market. Magnesium chloride, citrite or cheleate are generally believed to be absorbed better than their counterparts and so become more readily bioavailable faster.
Tablets, powders and transdermal oils or patches all have different rates of absorption and also have different uses.
Tablets: Magnesium oxide is the most commonly used form of magnesium found in pharmaceutical supplements, however it is far from the best. It is favoured for it’s high magnesium content and compactness but is not water soluble and not easily absorbed.
The other common forms of magnesium such as chloride, citrite, glycenate, aspartate and sulphate all have a bioavailability much greater than the oxide form and so are much better supplements to use.
Powders and liquids: Because of the solubility of these forms of magnesium, the mineral in liquid form is the most absorbable.
Magnesium Chloride Oil and Bath Salts: Magnesium Oils are applied topically directly to the skin and are effectively used to treat digestive problems such as constipation. These are especially helpful to those who may suffer gastrointestinal intolerance to taking tablets.
Magnesium Chloride is one of the most easily absorbed by the body and it’s direct application and absorption allows it to be carried directly to the cells without being metabolised.
Oil and bath salts such as Epsom Salts are also effective in treating muscles aches and pains and and increase endurance and muscle stamina.
Patches: Transdermal Magnesium Chloride patches offer a sustained release of the mineral which is absorbed directly through the skin.
Intravenous: Intravenous magnesium is the fastest route of delivery of the mineral and it is used in emergency situations as the drug of choice for pre-eclampsia, hypertension and severe cardiac arrhythmias. IV Magnesium saves lives.
Fulvic Acid Mineral Supplements
These amazing organic compounds are great sources of trace elements and they facilitate absorption of the ions within the cells.
They are worth looking into if you have a need for organic materials and have great all over benefits.
For further information check out: http://www.fulvicmineral.com/
Can I Have Too Much Magnesium?
If your dietary intake of magnesium exceeds the recommended daily amount the kidneys simply excrete the excess so problems from overuse are rare.
However, kidney disease can effect the way magnesium is excreted so hypermagnesema can be found in those patients with poor renal health.
Magnesium toxicity is extremely rare however taking too many supplements can have a laxative effect.
Please see your doctor if you are taking any other medications prior to starting magnesium therapy.
So, don’t just sit there and wonder what is magnesium deficiency, instead find ways to prevent and treat it before it becomes a real problem.
Your healthy heart, muscles, bones, digestive tract, nervous system, brain, liver and kidneys will all thank you!