Insomnia, headaches, constipation, anxiety, fatigue, and/or an uncontrollable urge to eat chocolate? If any of these sound familiar you might be deficient in Magnesium.
Almost half of the U.S. population is deficient in Magnesium and don’t even know it. According to a study published in The Journal of Intensive Care Medicine (i) a deficiency in this critical nutrient makes you twice as likely to die as other people.
Magnesium is arguably one of the most important mineral in the body. It is found in all of your tissues — but mainly in your bones, muscles, and brain. It is essential for cellular health and used for over 300 enzyme reactions in our bodies which is why deficiency in it can cause so many issues.
According to Norman Shealy, MD an American neurosurgeon and a pioneer in pain medicine, “Every known illness is associated with a magnesium deficiency and it’s the missing cure to many diseases.”
It’s the ultimate relaxation mineral
Tightness, stiffness and irritability in your body or even in your mood can all be signs of Magnesium deficiency.
Symptoms of Magnesium deficiency
-IBS ( irritable bowel syndrome)
-Increased chocolate cravings
Causes of Magnesium Deficiency
SAD – Eating a Standard American Diet – a diet high in processed refined foods – based mostly on flour, meat and dairy products ( zero magnesium) with little to almost no intake of any type of foods that contain Magnesium such as seaweed, beans, nuts and greens.
Digestive diseases like enhanced intestinal permeability also known as ” leaky gut” can cause malabsorption of minerals. Stress, Helicobacter Pylori, medications ( proton pump inhibitors, NSAIDs, H2 receptor blockers) , drinking lots of fluids during meals, hypothyroidism can all lead to suboptimal digestive secretion ( hypochlorhydria) which can directly impair the supply in the body of minerals, in this case Magnesium. These are all root causes of disease. Low stomach acid -> Low Magnesium -> Chronic Headaches, Hypertension, GERD, Osteopenia.
Soil depletion – Magnesium used to be abundantly present in most foods. However, in recent years, food has less and less magnesium due to the farming practices and changes in growing cycles over the last century – soil depletion.
According to a 2011 report published in Scientific American: (ii)
The Organic Consumers Association cites several other studies with similar findings: A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent.
Even if you consume a completely organic clean non GMO diet you’re still at risk which is why in my practice in many cases I recommend a Magnesium supplement.
Following a ketogenic diet – if you’re doing the keto diet you are going to lose a lot of water weight and with it flush essential electrolytes out of your system, including magnesium, potassium or sodium. This especially occurs in the beginning, so having magnesium-rich drinks like bone broth can help. Or simply add a pinch of salt to a glass of water ( not recommended for those with high blood pressure).
Too much alcohol – alcohol is an antinutrient. It literally sucks the nutrients out of your cells and prevents proper absorption/utilization of the vitamins and minerals that you consume. Consuming one to two glasses of wine a week is fine for most people, but much more than that is highly taxing on your liver. Alcohol can also deplete the minerals in your body because it causes gut floral imbalance, immune system compromise,
dehydration, and interrupted sleep.
Only 1 percent of magnesium in your body is in your bloodstream, so often you can have a deficiency, and it would not even be discovered by a common blood test.
How to naturally get and maintain our Magnesium levels (iii)
Eat plenty of Magnesium rich foods – greens, nuts, beans, seaweed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dark chocolate, avocado, banana, figs, dates, shrimp, garlic.
Take a hot bath with Epsom salts ( magnesium sulfate).
Limit coffee, tea, alcohol and sugar.
Learn how to practice relaxation.
Ask your doctor if any of your medications is causing magnesium loss.
Take magnesium supplements – the RDA (the minimum amount needed) for magnesium is about 300 mg a day. Most people benefit from 400 to 1,000 mg a day. The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate taurate, or aspartate. Avoid magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide. They are poorly absorbed (and the cheapest and most common forms found in supplements).
Too much Magnesium? Side effects include diarrhea, which can be avoided if you switch to magnesium glycinate.
People with kidney disease or severe heart disease should take magnesium only under a doctor’s supervision.
Ranim Salame, MD, CHC
(i) Tong, GM and RK Rude. 2005. Magnesium deficiency in critical illness. J Intensive Care Med 20 (1):3-17. Review.