Magnesium deficiency is a surprising health issue slipping under the radar. The majority of us are thought to suffer from inadequate levels of magnesium with a string of serious risks for those with very low levels of this incredibly important mineral. So, why is magnesium so important for our health and what supplements can we take to prevent any problems?
The importance of magnesium
Magnesium is used by every muscle in our bodies, immersed in over 300 chemical processes. Depending on age, the recommended daily allowance is 240 to 420 milligrams, despite many health professionals suggesting that this amount should be double. It’s involved in controlling blood glucose levels, energy production and nerve function amongst others.
Magnesium is also incredibly significant in relation to diabetes with research suggesting that those with depleted levels of this mineral are susceptible to developing diabetes.
Ten signs of magnesium deficiency
Most people are unaware that a lack of magnesium can contribute to a vast proportion of health problems. So, what are some alarming symptoms of magnesium deficiency?
- An unhealthy heart
Magnesium is required for transporting calcium, thus, a lack of this mineral results in a counterbalance of calcium into cells. As a result, too much calcium enters the cells, which can eventually lead to heart problems. Heart disease is one of the biggest health problems around the globe, with excessive calcium levels just one of the factors attributing to heart disease. However, upping your intake levels of magnesium aids the prevention of blood clotting and calcification of the arteries, lowering the risk of a heart attack.
Research suggests that magnesium deficiency is linked to anxiety and mental health issues. This is due to magnesium preventing excess levels of calcium and glutamate from damaging neurons. Furthermore, magnesium appears to suppress the hormone ATCH, which is responsible for activating the glands to release stress hormone cortisol. In addition, magnesium can prevent stress hormones from entering the brain, therefore, the reactions to stress, such as anxiety, depression and physical symptoms are greatly reduced.
- Muscle cramps
In a similar way that magnesium deficiency can result in calcification of the arteries, the muscles can also become stiff and weak. Low magnesium levels cause hyper responsive neuromuscular activity, ensuing in muscle spasms and overall weakness.
- Low energy levels
A lack of magnesium causes low cellular energy, which is why many suffer with lethargy, tiredness and fatigue. An American study determined that more oxygen is used in physical activity when there is a low level of magnesium within the body. Even those that are athletic have less physical ability then they would if they had sufficient levels of magnesium.
- Lack of sleep
Insomnia and the inability to get a good night’s sleep may be linked to magnesium deficiency. Studies have shown that an increase in magnesium levels aids relaxation, hence, promoting sleep. Furthermore, its ability to reduce anxiety and depression also has a positive impact on being able to sleep well.
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to poor appetite, nausea and vomiting. It can be difficult to pinpoint specific incidents to a lack of magnesium as deficiency affects the majority of systems within the body, however, stomach cramps, morning sickness and even, anorexia have been associated with low levels of magnesium.
- High blood pressure
Several studies have signified a connection between high blood pressure and magnesium deficiency. Generally, those with a low amount of magnesium within their body were at a higher risk of suffering from hypertension. Increasing magnesium intake can reduce blood pressure, but varying results have been recorded from research studies.
- Hormonal issues
The levels of magnesium within the body during a menstrual cycle fluctuate, especially during the second half when magnesium levels rapidly decrease. Higher levels of magnesium can help assist painful periods, stomach cramps and symptoms of PMS, such as headaches. Pregnant women require at least 360mg more to reach their recommended daily amount as this can reduce the risk specific problems like premature birth and preeclampsia.
- Mineral deficiency
The majority of minerals work together to help the body function correctly. Magnesium is highly essential as it’s required for the precise consumption of an abundance of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K.
- Poor bone health
Similar to calcium, magnesium is important for healthy bones. Assisting in the absorption of calcium, magnesium also stimulates the thyroids production of calcitonin, which aids healthy bone structure. Furthermore, magnesium converts vitamin D into an active form, again supporting healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis. 60% of the body’s magnesium reserve is within the bones and when desired, it’s transferred from the bone into the blood stream. To keep this stored level of magnesium at its optimum level, the daily recommended amount of magnesium should be consumed.
Increasing your level of magnesium
The majority of people consume less than 250 milligrams from food, which is unlikely to be enough for most. Foods rich in magnesium include;
- Dry roasted almonds (80mg per serving)
- Boiled spinach (78mg per serving)
- 2 tablespoons of nut butter (49mg per serving)
- 1 medium banana (32mg per serving)
- Mineral-rich Sel de Guerande Sea Salt
Magnesium supplements are an effective way of boosting your magnesium levels. Consuming around 400-600 milligrams from supplements is ideal and can be utilised in the following forms.
- Magnesium glycinate – Taken orally via tablet or powder (mixed with water or juice), this supplement is easier to absorb than some other forms and less likely to cause any side effects.
- Magnesium oil – A topical form of magnesium is ideal for those who don’t wish to take oral supplements. Magnesium oil sprayed over the skin is quickly absorbed, bypassing the kidneys which eliminates up to half of digested magnesium intake as waste. I use Better You Magnesium Oil and have found this the most effective for helping me sleep and stopping the symptoms of Restless Legs.
- ReMag Solution – Formulated by Dr Carolyn Dean, writer of The Magnesium Miracle, this supplement should be mixed with water or juice. Absorbed at cellular level, this dietary aid will increase magnesium within the body without causing a laxative effect.
- Natural Calm – A drink supplement aimed at restoring magnesium levels, this easily absorbed, water soluble formula is in ionic form to work efficiently and effectively.
- Ionic magnesium – ionic magnesium is orally consumed to ensure maximum absorption. The body easily recognises magnesium in its ionic state as it doesn’t need to be broken down by the stomach, thus promoting better absorption in the intestine. I use this brand.
Despite the shocking symptoms of magnesium deficiency, consuming supplements and a diet rich in magnesium based foods will increase the levels of magnesium within your body, ensuring that any health problems are kept to a minimum. However, remember that a healthy, balanced diet, lots of exercise and little or no consumption of alcohol, smoking and caffeine will allow you to live a rewarding and overall healthy life.
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