You may be experiencing symptoms of magnesium deficiency, and not even realize it. It is estimated that up to 50% of Americans are not getting enough of this crucial mineral. The National Institute of Health states;
“Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium is required for energy production, oxidative phosphorylation, and glycolysis. It contributes to the structural development of bone and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione. Magnesium also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm.”
The NIH says that “early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness.” Any of these symptoms can occur alone or in combination with others. As deficiency worsens, symptoms such as “numbness, tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms can occur.” People who are at a higher risk for magnesium deficiency include those with gastrointestinal issues (such as those with Crohn’s disease or gluten-sensitive enteropathy), type 2 diabetics, excessive alcohol use, and medication use that alters magnesium levels. Medications that decrease magnesium levels include diuretics (such as Lasix) and long term use of proton pump inhibitors (such as Nexium and Prevacid).
A healthful diet can include proper levels of magnesium. Foods with the highest magnesium levels include; raw spinach, squash and pumpkin seeds, mackerel, avocados, bananas, figs, and dark chocolate. However, good farming practices need to be employed to include proper magnesium. If a crop takes in the magnesium from the soil, then the farmer needs to replace this trace-element in order for the next crop to utilize it. Organic farming practices are more likely to replace a whole range of nutrients into the soil, with methods such as composting.
So how do you know if you could be magnesium deficient? One of the most common things that I notice in patients is chronic muscle tension. A Magnesium Citrate (this one is 200mg per pill – you can experiment with the amount, 1 or 2 depending on if you get diarrhea or stomach upset) supplement taken before bed can be one of the most powerful relaxation aids. It can also help improve your sleep. Other symptoms can include muscle cramps or twitches, headaches, chronic fatigue, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, constipation, high blood pressure, menstrual cramps, PMS, and irritable bowel.
So how much do you need? The FDA has set the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for adults is 300mg per day. Some people, depending on their condition, need even more. People with severe health issues such as kidney or heart disease should only consult their doctor about taking magnesium. Excessive magnesium supplementation (in pill form) can cause toxicity, which shows symptoms of diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
So what do I do now? Limit coffee, colas, salt, sugar, and alcohol which can deplete your magnesium levels. Eat foods that are high in magnesium. Check with your doctor to see if any medications you are on affect your magnesium levels. Magnesium Citrate is one of the best absorbed kinds. Avoid magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide which are poorly absorbed. It’s best to get this mineral as part of a multi-mineral formula, as other minerals help each other in the body. You can also take an Epsom Salt bath, as the magnesium is absorbed through the skin.
I take a magnesium supplement daily, and it helps me avoid neck tightness while I sleep. I also feel that I perform better in the gym, since magnesium helps with muscle performance. If you experience any of the above symptoms, it’s worth a shot to go out and buy some magnesium or a Multi-mineral supplement (I find a liquid to be easily absorbed and this one contains a great synergy of vitamins and minerals). Diet in so many cases can save you! It truly is the most important thing in health and fitness.
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[disclaim][/disclaim] This article is for informational purposes and does not replace seeing your medical doctor.