Magnesium is very critical to our well-being and health. Yet, because there isn’t so much emphasis on it, many people just don’t pay any attention to it.
Well, because we know how dangers and health issues associated with magnesium deficiency, we have decided to create this concise guide to this wonderful, essential mineral.
For those who don’t know, magnesium plays a key role in your lungs, kidneys and heart health. It also helps with improving your digestive health as well as fat loss. In this concise guide to magnesium, we’ll be examining the following key information:
- What it is and it’s benefits/uses to the body
- Possible causes and symptoms of inadequate magnesium
- Dangers of magnesium deficiency
- Magnesium supplements, side effects and optimal consumption dosages
- Multiple magnesium sources including natural or food sources
Magnesium: What Is It?
Magnesium is an essential mineral required for optimal health, cell regeneration, energy and muscle function. Imagine a scenario where your muscles contract perpetually –ouch, that’s gotta hurt, that’s what magnesium does.
Its functions are so far reaching that there are studies consistently going on about its roles in the body at every point in time. To show just how diverse its roles are, studies have indicated that it contributes to the regulation of about 300 biochemical and enzymatic reactions in the body.
And even then, scientists are still studying the critical role it plays in powering cells in the body. Magnesium deficiency is one of the leading mineral deficiencies in the world, with about 80 percent of all adults lacking this essential mineral.
Interestingly, all of the symptoms associated with magnesium deficiency can be corrected by simply taking one or two doses of a good magnesium supplement. That’s how powerful this stuff is.
Health Benefits of Magnesium Supplements
It’s amazing that something as small as magnesium supplements this small can be capable of tremendous health benefits, some of which include:
- Regulation of over 300 biochemical functions (including but not limited to regulating your heart rhythm, and aiding your neurotransmitters)
- Helps maintain bone density
- Aids and improves sleep – Might help with the regulation of your body’s internal clock, resulting in better sleep
- Has been linked to the prevention of migraines
- Plays a role in the treatment of ADHD, asthma, and anxiety
- Prevents muscle spasms and joint aches
- Might play a role in the prevention of metabolic syndrome –a condition that predisposes an individual to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and insulin resistance. In fact, studies have shown that magnesium intake is inversely proportional to the risk of developing diabetes, a condition that predisposes an individual to pancreatic cancer.
- Might help in the primary prevention of pancreatic cancer –this was the conclusion of the eight year VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) study involving 66,806 male participants aged between 555 and 76 years old. The results which were released in Dec, 2015 showed that participants who met the daily required magnesium intake didn’t develop pancreatic cancer while those who didn’t –about 151 of them- developed it.
- May help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease –preliminary studies have indicated that frequent magnesium intake may slow down neurodegeneration in people with Alzheimer’s.
- Aids digestive health and relieves constipation
- Helps boost your energy levels and slows down the rate at which you become fatigued.
- Aids protein synthesis, cell reproduction and transfers nutrient across cell barriers
- Helps with the faster conversion of food nutrients into energy
- Protects your DNA, and aids its stability and synthesis
- Improves electrolyte balance and acts as calcium modulator
- Boosts your overall health and improves your sense of well-being
Causes of Magnesium Deficiency
The key to preventing or avoiding magnesium deficiency lies in understanding its causes. Once you do, all you have to do is take the necessary steps to avoid the triggers and you’ll never have to worry about magnesium deficiency anymore.
Suffering from fire injuries not only leads to significant pains and discomfort, studies have shown that when people suffer burns over a significant part of their body, this can result in magnesium depletion. This is why burn victims are often given magnesium supplements to help with their recovery.
A good example of this is severe diarrhea which rapidly depletes the amount of magnesium in the body. This is primarily caused by the excessive loss of fluid and nutrients. Because chronic diarrhea leads to the loss of electrolytes, this makes it even more dangerous, and hinders the functions of magnesium.
Medications – Prescriptions and Over the Counter
Drugs can also affect your magnesium levels. Some prescription drugs like antibiotics, diuretics and painkillers can reduce the impact optimal amounts of magnesium by either accelerating their elimination from the body or binding with certain compounds which end up limiting its absorption in the body.
Examples of drug groups that can affect trigger magnesium deficiency in the body include:
- Antifungal drugs such as Pentamidine. This drug is usually effective in the treatment and prevention of pneumonia.
- Antibiotics such as Tetracycline, Amphotericin B, Tobramycin, Garamycin, Ticaricillin, and Carbenicillin.
- Pain relief meds containing hydrocortisone and other corticosteroids can also deplete your magnesium levels.
- Hormone inhibiting or boosting medications such as those found in hormone replacement therapies and birth control pills.
- Diuretics, which are drugs that increases your rate of urine production can deplete your magnesium levels. Some examples of these include Thiazides, Mannitol, Lasix, and Edercrin. If it makes you pee a lot, then it will affect your magnesium.
- Drugs aimed at preventing or protecting the heart from failing. These heart failure drugs include Cordarone, Qunidex, Lanoxin and digitalis.
- People suffering from arrhythmia – a condition where the rhythm of your heartbeat is irregular- and take drugs like Betapace, Cardioquin and Amiodarone among others can suffer magnesium deficiency.
- Meds aimed at suppressing your immune system
- Anti-cancer medications like platinol as well as cancer treatment therapies like radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
- Drugs aimed at suppressing episodes of schizophrenia and psychosis. Examples include Stelazine, Mellaril, and Orap
- Asthma drugs containing aminophylline, isoproterenol and epinephrine.
Alcohol consumption, smoking and illicit drug intake all contribute to magnesium depletion in the body. The same goes for drug related addictions. This is possible because magnesium absorption is usually problematic in the presence of certain drugs.
Also, addiction treatment and withdrawal symptoms can result in low magnesium levels in the body. This is why addiction specialists often use intravenous magnesium as part of their addiction treatment protocols.
Poor Eating Choices
Certain dietary preferences and food types can leach magnesium from your body, leaching to magnesium deficiency. Research has shown that the average American diet creates a higher demand for magnesium.
So, not only does the high fat, high sugar foods that we eat cause obesity and other related problems, it is also affecting our magnesium levels, and creating a situation where our bodies actually need more magnesium to function optimally.
This is why more people need to adopt healthier eating habits that can help replenish their magnesium levels. As a rule, processed foods generally remove magnesium from the body or inhibits its absorption.
So, choose healthier meals and foods like whole grain, fiber rich carbs, seeds, nuts, veggies and fruits. These have very good amounts of magnesium that will complement and support your current levels. Vegetables like mustard greens, chard and kale are particularly high in magnesium.
This doesn’t just apply to foods, it also applies to drinks. Most people prefer to drink sugar-filled soda, coffee, beer and every other unhealthy drink to mineral-infused water. Yet, they wonder why they don’t feel well most of the time.
These drinks are effective at reducing your magnesium levels because of their sugar and phosphate content, as well as the tendency to cause frequent urination. How? For starters, foods containing significant quantities of saturated fat tend to slow down the rate at which magnesium is absorbed in the stomach.
Foods containing lots of sugar trigger diuretic episodes. Unfortunately, this process also causes the kidney to expel higher amounts of magnesium. Carbonated and fizzy drinks tend to have high phosphate content, which in turn inhibit the function of magnesium.
Stress, Illness and Aging
The body in a bid to cope with stress, illness and aging naturally uses up its stored magnesium. This is possible because of the role magnesium plays in fueling your body with energy, supporting your neurotransmitters and aiding cell reproduction.
In fact, it may be one of the key reasons rapid aging is often associated with stress and illness. So, whenever you fall ill, your magnesium levels often deplete rapidly. Some of the more common ailments and health conditions that can trigger rapid magnesium deficiency include hormonal imbalance, liver disease, obesity, and surgery.
Now, the problem is not really with the rapid use of magnesium ions in the body, the major issue is in the inability or reduced ability of the body to produce or absorb the magnesium ion it needs from foods.
During illness and aging, the rate of food digestion slows down partly because the amount of stomach acid is reduced too. This means your body doesn’t get to breakdown those food materials fast enough for you to get magnesium ions in the meals.
All of these factors combined together can trigger a drastic reduction in the amounts of magnesium available for usage.
Water softeners are used in many homes every day. This is particularly common in zones with water that’s high in mineral content. Unfortunately, water with high mineral content can be hard, thus making them difficult for regular daily use.
The problem with this is that waters with high mineral content tend to contain good amounts of magnesium. Applying water softening agents, drastically reduces the amount of magnesium in the water. In fact a WHO study proposed that water softening agents may play a key role in global magnesium deficiency.
Symptoms and Dangers of Magnesium Deficiency
Most people are unaware of the fact that they are suffering from magnesium deficiency. In this section of the guide, we’ll be showing you the symptoms of magnesium deficiency.
Please understand that these symptoms do not necessarily imply that you are suffering from magnesium deficiency seeing as they share certain similarities with other conditions.
So, make sure you don’t have any other condition before concluding that you are suffering from inadequate magnesium levels. Some of the symptoms include:
- Sudden onset of muscle cramping and spasms
- Uneven heart rhythms and high blood pressure
- Early onset heart disease –this may be linked with other conditions
- Low calcium amounts in the blood
- Extreme lethargy and fatigue
- Tremors in the hands
- Anxiety and nausea
- Metabolic syndrome
- Insulin resistance and diabetes
- Obesity and weight gain
- Difficulty breathing and swallowing
- Increased rate of mental fog and confusion
What Can You Do to Replenish Your Magnesium Levels?
Before we jump into the various options available for magnesium supplementation, you should have an idea of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is.
This is the amount of magnesium you need to take or have in your body every day to function properly and optimally as recommended by the National Institute of Health (NIH). The recommended daily allowance also depends on age and sex.
- 0–6 months: 30 mg
- 7–12 months: 75 mg
- 1–3 years: 80 mg
- 4–8 years: 130 mg
- 9–13 years: 240 mg
- 14–18 years: 410 mg men and 360 mg for women
- 19–30 years: 400 mg men and 310 mg women
- 31+ years: 420 mg men; 320 mg women
- Pregnant women: 350–360 mg
- Breastfeeding women: 310–320 mg
There are two major sources of magnesium supplementation. They include:
- Magnesium supplements: There are so many brands in the market. Talk to your physician about this.
- Eat more natural, magnesium rich foods: These include spinach, bananas, dark chocolate, yoghurt, avocado, figs, lentils, soybeans, mackerels, brown rice, almonds and black beans.
In conclusion, you can clearly see that magnesium plays a critical role in your health and well-being. Do everything you can to get more magnesium into your daily dietary and nutrient intake. This way, you can live longer and enjoy far better health, compared too those who don’t.