Are you deficient in magnesium?
By: Paul Garcia
In my office the answer is yes until proven otherwise.
Magnesium is, by far, the most common mineral deficiency I see in my office. In fact, an estimated 80% of Americans are not getting enough of this important mineral and their health is paying the price. Your body uses magnesium in more than 300 enzyme reactions. These enzymes control many critical systems including:
- Energy (ATP) Production
- Production Proper Formation of Bones & Teeth
- Proper Function of Heart Muscles
- Relaxation of Blood Vessels
- Blood Sugar Regulation
- Hormone Regulation
Since magnesium is required for so many different enzyme reactions across virtually every system of your body, magnesium deficiency will create a wide range of symptoms including:
- Anxiety, hyperactivity, restlessness
- Muscle spasms, twitches, soreness
- Difficulty swallowing
- Back aches
- Chest tightness and difficulty breathing
- Heart palpitations
- High blood pressure
- Extreme fatigue
If you experience any of these symptoms you likely have a magnesium deficiency and restoring your levels back to normal can help to eliminate these all to common conditions.
Why Are We So Low In Magnesium?
There are a few reasons why magnesium is so hard to come by these days. First, modern farming techniques have depleted the topsoil of naturally occurring magnesium. Next, most conventional fertilizers are known as “NPK” fertilizers, meaning they contain only nitrogen(N), phosphorous(P) and potassium(K) but not magnesium. In other words, our food supply is desperately low in magnesium and we are doing nothing to replenish it. Finally, our bodies require more magnesium nowadays because of our modern diet and lifestyle.
The following factors are well known to deplete magnesium:
- Caffeine Consumption
- Sugar Consumption (It takes 28 molecules of magnesium to metabolize a single glucose molecule!)
- Alcohol Consumption
- Digestive Problems
- Grain & Legume Consumption (due to high levels of phytic acid and other anti-nutrients)
- Emotional Stress
- Intense Physical Exertion (sweating)
Additionally, many prescription drugs are known to deplete magnesium levels. These include antacids, NSAID’s (anti-inflammatories), hormone replacement therapy (HRT & birth control pills), blood pressure medications, diuretics, and many antibiotics.
Most Doctors Don’t Address Magnesium Levels
Even though magnesium deficiency is rarely addressed in traditional medical settings, the medical journals are packed with studies showing the importance of adequate magnesium levels. This site documents well over 100 clinical studies showing the health benefits of optimal magnesium intake.
Getting Enough Magnesium
There are several ways to ensure you are getting enough magnesium.
The easiest way is through your diet. Foods that are high in magnesium include: leafy green vegetables, seeds, tree nuts, sea salt and my personal favorite- Bone Broth. Whole grains do contain moderate levels of magnesium however anti nutrients like oxalates and phytic acid bind to magnesium during digestion, making it unavailable to your body unless careful preparation methods are used.
Regardless if your diet contains adequate levels of magnesium, many people have difficulty absorbing it for a variety of reasons. Imbalances in gut bacteria, leaky gut and irritable bowel syndrome all limit the amount you can absorb. Dairy consumption, calcium and iron supplementation and fluoride exposure are also known to inhibit the availability and absorption of magnesium.
For all the reasons listed above, I often recommend magnesium supplementation to my clients.
There are three forms of magnesium supplementation that I use in the office, each for a different purpose.
- Magnesium Citrate or Malate. This is a powdered form that works well for mild to moderate constipation, but it’s not absorbed into the body as well as other forms. Natural Calm works well.
- Magnesium Glycinate. This is a chelated form of magnesium that’s bound to an amino acid. This allows for much better absorption compared to the Citrate/Malate form.
- Transdermal or Topical Magnesium Oil. Next to intravenous magnesium administration, transdermal therapy is the best absorbed and best tolerated because it bypasses the digestive tract altogether. I like Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil.
I generally recommend starting with 400mgs/day in two divided doses. For sleep and mild constipation issues I would recommend taking all 400mgs right before you fall asleep. If you have several of the symptoms mentioned earlier I would recommend increasing the dose by 100mg/day until you experience loose stools and then back off slightly.
My personal regiment is to take 400mg of Magnesium Glycinate before bed and to use Magnesium Oils after intense workouts or when I’m under more stress. This program has definitely help my sugar cravings, my sleep patterns, and the soreness in my hands and wrists that I occasionally experience after adjusting football players all day!
If you’d like to learn more about magnesium and the effects it has on your body, I’d suggest the book The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean.