We all know that it is best to eat natural foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, simple carbs, lean proteins and healthy fats. We have learned to be careful to try to keep pesticides and GMO frankenfoods off the table. And, we all know that a fast-food or processed-food diet would contain lots of “empty calories” that add to our girth while leaving our bodies malnourished.
But did you know that even if you eat a diet you think is healthy, you might still not get enough of important minerals such as magnesium?
Leafy green vegetables are the best source of magnesium since magnesium is the atom at the center of chlorophyll. Also we get magnesium in nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, most fish, legumes such as lentils, beans and peas, whole grains such as brown rice and in plain (no sugar) no-fat yogurt.
We have lost magnesium and other minerals to “modern” agriculture and food processing.
Agriculture – Farmers used to replenish depleted soil with cover crops, compost, earthworms and the like. Today they grow most crops with artificial fertilizers and with pesticides that kill important microorganisms in the soil. They rarely replace magnesium that was taken out of the soil by previous crops.
I think the farmers originally meant well. If they produced more food per acre and per hour of effort, they would help to feed the world as well as earn a better return for their hours in the fields. How were they to know then that just because a plant was large and looked pretty, it might not actually supply all the vitamins and minerals it used to and that people could get sick?
Processing – Companies don’t usually add magnesium to their foods, and some of the other things they do add can actually use up what magnesium you have. Too many saturated fats can reduce magnesium absorption. Your kidneys actually excrete magnesium when you eat lots of sugar. Phosphates in sodas bind to magnesium so the body can’t use the magnesium you gave it.
Then too, your body does not easily absorb cheap magnesium supplements like magnesium oxide, so that you can remain deficient even though you think you are getting enough.
This means that it is almost impossible to get enough magnesium from diet alone, and even your supplements may not actually help you that much.
Why is magnesium so important?
According to NIH Medline, you need magnesium for more than 300 biochemical reactions in your body.
You need it for:
- Blood glucose regulation;
- Energy and protein production;
- Healthy digestive system;
- Healthy immune system;
- Muscle health;
- Nerve transmission;
- Relaxation and sleep.
- Steady heartbeat;
- Strong bones and teeth;
Magnesium deficiency has a role in:
- Detoxification of environmental toxins
- Heart arrhythmias,
- High blood pressure,
- Learning disabilities,
- Migraines and cluster headaches,
- MORNING SICKNESS
- Sleep disorders,
- Systemic inflammation, “the silent killer.”
How severe is the problem of magnesium deficiency in the US?
An NIH study abstract terms magnesium the “orphan mineral.” Some studies suggest as many as 80% of us are magnesium- deficient. Sadly, there is no test to measure magnesium deficiency, and only a tiny fraction is found in our blood; about 50% is stored in our bones. Some more common signs could be frequent muscle cramps (charliehorses), unexplained fatigue and weakness, chronic pain and high anxiety or “nerves.”
Calcium/magnesium balance should be 2:1. They help each other to work. People began to supplement their diet with calcium for strong teeth and bones but didn’t understand that other minerals worked together with calcium in the body. As people took in more calcium and less magnesium over the years, more people got type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and inflammatory disorders such as heart disease, chronic pain, arthritis, cancer and dementia.
Which magnesium supplement is right for me?
Luckily for us, even the best magnesium is cheap compared to pharmaceuticals, although it will not be covered by your insurance! I myself have taken magnesium malate supplements for 15 years for fibromyalgia pain. It was the #1 recommendation of every chiropractor I visited, along with the spice turmeric.
Watch out for digestive issues – Most people might need more magnesium but remember – some forms of magnesium can be used as a laxative. It may help if you start with small doses and work up, take it with food, spread out over the day. There are also trans-dermal applications such as magnesium oil and – yes – Epsom salt baths.
Different magnesium compounds work differently in the body. We don’t just use the raw element magnesium, it is chemically bound to another molecule, thus…magnesium orotate, magnesium sulfate, magnesium malate, magnesium glycinate, etc. The other molecule is also important to some aspect of healthy functioning, making each magnesium compound especially effective for different people.
Magnesium Malate – helps relieve soft tissue pain.
Magnesium Orotate – helps heart health, has a high absorption rate.
Magnesium Glycinate – helps with sleep.
Magnesium Lactate and magnesium hydroxide – help with heartburn, acid stomach
Magnesium Citrate – is used as a laxative.
Magnesium Carbonate – helps relieve heartburn and acid reflux.
Magnesium Sulfate- Epsom salts soaks soothe aching muscles; delivered IM, it helps prevent seizures during delivery.
All in all, if I had never had fibromyalgia, I might never have known how important magnesium is in the diet, and I might have developed other more serious problems I have avoided such as heart disease and cancer.
Magnesium is an essential mineral, an electrolyte, that enables or supports thousands of important ways our bodies function. Since 80% of us are deficient in this mineral, it will probably be worth your while to study up on it for yourself and your family.
Disclaimer: Your writer is not a doctor. This information is not meant to prescribe relief for any disease or symptom. Please see your physician to discuss your medical concerns.