The body needs magnesium to produce energy and synthesize proteins and fats, in addition to regulating muscle activity and the nervous system. However, despite its importance, 75% of the population suffers from a magnesium deficiency.
A magnesium deficiency is caused by making poor food choices (eating processed grains and not enough green, leafy vegetables), overworked soil and using chemical fertilizers in place of organics.
Why do we need magnesium?
Magnesium is essential for the functioning of hundreds of enzymes in the body, especially those that transmit, store and use energy. It’s essential for:
- Synthesizing the proteins the body needs for cellular division and growth.
- The electrical signals the body uses to communicate with itself.
- Stabilizing blood pressure, vascular tone, the transmission of electrical impulses between neurons and the blood stream.
- Muscle function.
- Magnesium is especially important for the formation of healthy bones, much like calcium and vitamin D.
- Releasing sufficient quantities of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Magnesium deficiency can cause a deep depression.
Living with a magnesium deficiency is like wanting to drive a car without any gas in the tank.
The link between calcium and magnesium
Magnesium is much scarcer in our diet than calcium. However, we pay more attention to this last nutrient despite the fact that both are essential for strong, healthy bones.
Few people understand that calcium needs magnesium in order to be of any use to the body. For example, excess calcium could block the uptake of magnesium which can negatively impact your health.
The two substances work together as magnesium controls the cellular uptake of calcium. If magnesium is lacking and there’s too much calcium in the cell, it can cause cramps, migraines, anxiety, etc.
In addition, magnesium helps calcium dissolve in the blood, which prevents kidney stones from forming. You need to watch this because taking calcium without magnesium for osteoporosis can promote the formation of kidney stones!
Why is there a higher risk of magnesium deficiency?
As we mentioned before, our normal diet doesn’t provide enough magnesium. But why does this happen?
By processing foods
The food industry reduces a lot of the magnesium content, along with other nutrients, in the manufacturing process. For example, when wheat is refined to make it into white flour, 90% of its natural magnesium content is lost.
The same thing happens when molasses is converted into sugar: it loses 98% of its magnesium. In addition, boiling or freezing vegetables also reduces the magnesium content.
Food additives like aspartme, MSG (found in Chinese food) and alcohol deplete magnesium reserves.
Indigestion and using antacids
If your diet is based on processed foods, you are more likely to suffer from indigestion. For this reason, taking synthetic antacids which neutralize the hydrochloric acid in the stomach is really common. This prevents magnesium from being properly absorbed.
As we mentioned before, a large portion of our food is grown in overworked soil that’s been depleted of magnesium and other minerals. The magnesium that should be naturally in our food is nearly nonexistent.
Many drugs like diuretics, contraceptives, insulin, cortisone and some antibiotics cause the body to lose magnesium.
The effects of magnesium deficiency
The following list is a partial compilation of the diseases and disorders that are directly related to magnesium deficiencies. These can be improved by increasing the consumption of this mineral.
Anxiety and panic attacks
Magnesium helps manage stress hormones and brain function.
Experts confirm that the rise in the rate of depression since World War II can be explained by the decreased levels of magnesium in the soil.
Magnesium relaxes the bronchial muscles of the lungs.
Magnesium helps regulate the intestines’ peristaltic muscle movements. In fact, taking milk of magnesia is a remedy for this condition.
Magnesium helps insulin transport glucose into the cells. If this help isn’t there, the glucose accumulates in tissues, causing glycemic stress and damage.
Magnesium deficiency is common in those with heart disease. For this reason, magneisum is an effective treatment for heart attacks and arrhythmia.
As we mentioned above, magnesium regulates vaso-constriction and blood pressure.
Magnesium regulates the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls the sleep-wake cycle.
As we’ve already mentioned, a magnesium deficiency can cause cramps, migraines and even colic.
Without magnesium, the body can’t properly utilize calcium which can lead to osteoporosis.
Which foods are good sources of magnesium?
Some foods are especially rich in magnesium. In a 3.5 oz. serving, these foods offer the following quantities of magnesium:
- Almonds: 270 mg
- Cooked beans: 37 mg
- Peanuts: 175 mg
- Green cabbage: 57 mg
- Wheat germ: 336 mg
- Kelp/marine algae: 760 mg
- Red algae: 220 mg
- Molasses: 258 mg
- Millet: 162 mg
- Wheat bran: 490 mg
- Tofu: 111 mg
As you can see, the richest foods in this nutrient are whole grains and organically grown greens, as well as high quality sea salt and algae.
How should you take supplements?
When taking magnesium, you need to take into account the amount of calcium you’re getting. Supplements should be taken in a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio in favor of calcium. That means you should take double the amount of calcium as you do magnesium for the proper balance.
However, most people currently consume about 10 times as much calcium as magnesium. You should be getting between 800-1400 mg of calcium daily. So, for example, if you take 1000 mg of calcium, you’ll need to take at least 500-800 mg of magnesium.
Magnesium is available in several different forms. For example, you can bathe in Epsom salts, which are rich in magnesium, and it will be absorbed through your skin to restore optimum levels.
You can also take it in capsule form in small doses taken twice daily. You can manage the amount that you need, always keeping a balance between calcium and magnesium.
When you exceed your limit, you’ll experience diarrhea which is why it’s better to split up the doses, either on an empty stomach or not, in order to get your daily dose.
You should always take these supplements under the supervision of a medical professional since every body is different.