Magnesium is one of the most important nutrients in the human body. It’s crucial for cardiovascular health, bone health, brain health, muscle function and hormone regulation , and is involved in over 300 enzyme reactions in nearly all of the body’s tissues. And yet by some estimates, 50-80% of Americans are unknowingly deficient in this magical mineral.
Magnesium regulates more of the body’s functions than any other mineral, and must be supplied to the body on a daily basis. When magnesium intake is insufficient, the body will pull magnesium from its stores in bones and teeth, or will function in deficiency. Because it is synergistic with other minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, magnesium deficiency disrupts the body’s mineral balance and causes a cascade of problems within the body.
- Activates muscles and nerves (including blood vessels)
- Building block for DNA and RNA synthesis
- Neurotransmitter precursor
- Aids in macronutrient digestion
- Activates ATP
- Aids and regulates the body’s use of calcium and other minerals
- Maintains structural health of cell membranes
- Bone and teeth formation
- Hormone secretion
- Cellular reproduction
- Detoxification support in numerous pathways
Magnesium levels are easily depleted by many of the trappings of modern life: excess caffeine, alcohol, salt, phosphoric acid in colas, prolonged or intense stress, antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors (antacids) and other drugs. Our ancestors were able to obtain sufficient magnesium from their diets because the soil their food grew in was rich in the mineral. Unfortunately, modern farming practices have significantly depleted the magnesium content of our soil and it’s become increasingly difficult to obtain enough dietary magnesium, especially considering the rise of processed foods as a main component of the average American’s diet.
It is quite difficult to assess magnesium status though a lab test since only about one percent of magnesium is distributed through your blood. It’s generally easier to look at symptoms to determine whether a deficiency might be present. However there are a few sophisticated functional labs – provided by some functional medicine practitioner – that can oftentimes provide a better assessment than a blood test combined with clinical presentation.
Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms:
- Sensitivity to loud noises
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Autism (ASD)
- Joint pain
- Hypertension (cardiovascular disease)
- Kidney stones
- Muscle cramps or spasms
- ADD / ADHD
- PMS/Menstrual cramps
- Acid reflux
- High blood pressure
- Trouble swallowing
- Hormone dysregulation
- Neurotransmitter imbalances
- Detoxification impairments
- Blood sugar dysregulaiton
If you have any of these symptoms, you might benefit from taking a closer look at your diet and considering magnesium supplementation. Dietary sources of magnesium include kelp, almonds, cashews, collard greens, shrimp, parsley, avocado, dandelion greens, walnuts, brazil nuts, figs, dates and garlic. It’s important to note that due to the synergy of magnesium with other vitamins and minerals, if you decide to supplement, you should seek assistance from a trusted practitioner to ensure you are achieving an appropriate mineral ratio. Just as not enough magnesium creates a mineral imbalance within the body, so too does an excess of magnesium. Additionally, some forms of magnesium are more easily assimilated than others and carry a smaller chance of side effects – most notably, diarrhea. Choosing an appropriate form of magnesium is important and the best formula will depend on the health condition of concern. Not all supplemental magnesium is created the same. LifeWorks Integrative Health has a team of providers that really understands magnesium deficiency. If you are looking for professional help give us a call.