Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and is a necessary co-factor to over 300 enzymes in our body. Simply put, it powers enzyme function, drives fuel sources, protects DNA and regulates our electrolyte balance. It is extremely important to our health and well-being.
The NIH states “Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. There is an increased interest in the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Dietary magnesium is absorbed in the small intestines. Magnesium is excreted through the kidneys.”
According to the USDA, between 60-80% of Americans are magnesium deficient. One can safely assume that this number is transferable to Canadians as our lifestyle and eating habits are much the same as our neighbors to the South.
Studies have shown that low magnesium levels may be responsible for a multitude of symptoms:
- Muscle spasms - Back pain - Insomnia or restless sleep
- Headaches - Constipation - Stiff and aching muscles
- Stress - Kidney stones - High blood pressure
- Angina - Osteoporosis - Muscle weakness
- Stroke - ADD/ADHD - Irregular Heartbeat
- Anxiety - Heart palpitations - Restless Leg Syndrome
- PMS - Insulin Resistance - Muscle twitch or tic
And according to Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., author of The Magnesium Miracle, magnesium is useful in the treatment of the following:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Blood clots
- Bowel disease
- Diabetes, Syndrome X, and Metabolic Syndrome
- Heart disease
- Kidney Disease
- Liver Disease
- Musculoskeletal conditions
- Nerve problems
- Obstetrics and Gynecology-PMS, dysmenorrhea (cramping pain during menses), infertility, premature contractions, preeclampsia, and eclampsia in pregnancy, lessens the risk of cerebral palsy and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Raynaud's Syndrome
- Tooth decay
There are a number of reasons we are suffering from magnesium deficiency:
Firstly, our crop lands have depleted magnesium levels. After growing crops in the same soil for many years, and not replacing the minerals found there, the soil is tired. Depleted soil equals depleted crops.
Secondly, one can appreciate that if magnesium is necessary in so many reactions within the body, it is rapidly depleted by the regular processes within the body. Add to that, accelerated depletion due to a number of factors: physical and mental stress; alcohol use; prescription drug interference with magnesium uptake; consumption of foods which hinder the absorption of magnesium (tea, foods high in oxalic acid such as spinach), phosphate containing foods (such as soda pop); and exposure to toxins.
Lastly, the diet which we consume is low in magnesium. Processed foods make up a large part of the North American Diet. It is a diet with low nutrient content and lacks the minerals and vitamins necessary for healthy body function.
The recommended daily intake of magnesium for men is approximately 400 mg and for women 300 mg and there are indications that these numbers may be low. In order to consume enough magnesium, we need to up the consumption of plant foods that we eat. Good sources of magnesium include nuts, oatmeal, cocoa, beans, lentils, and pumpkin seeds.
If one considers supplementing their magnesium intake it is important to note that magnesium is most absorbable if combined with ascorbate, citrate or glycinate. Other forms are not as easily absorbed.