Magnesium and Its Health Benefits
by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center
Magnesium is a nutrient that helps the body stay healthy. Magnesium is important for many processes in the body. It helps regulate muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and aids in making protein, bone, and DNA. It is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body and used in over 300 different physiological processes.
What Foods Provide Magnesium?
Magnesium is in many natural foods and is added to fortified foods. You can get the recommended daily amounts of magnesium by eating a variety of foods. These foods include legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, avocados, dark chocolate, bananas, milk, yogurt, and other milk products.
Am I Getting Enough Magnesium?
The diets of many people in the United States provide less than the recommended amounts of magnesium. Men older than 70 and teenage girls and boys are most likely to have low intakes of magnesium.
What Happens If You Do Not Get Enough Magnesium?
In the short term, getting too little magnesium does not produce obvious symptoms. When healthy people have low intakes, the kidneys help retain magnesium by limiting the amount lost in urine. Low magnesium intakes for long periods, however, can lead to a magnesium deficiency. In addition, some medical conditions and medications interfere with the body’s ability to absorb magnesium or increase the amount of magnesium that the body excretes.
Very high doses of zinc supplements can also interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and regulate magnesium.
Some symptoms of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. Extreme magnesium deficiency can cause numbness, tingling, muscle cramps, seizures, personality changes, and an abnormal heart rhythm.
People with gastrointestinal diseases (such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease), type 2 diabetes, long-term alcoholism and older people are more likely to get too little magnesium.
What Are Some Effects of Magnesium On Health?
Research has shown that magnesium has positive effects on high blood pressure and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and migraine headaches.
Magnesium that is naturally present in food and beverages is not harmful and does not need to be limited. In healthy people, the kidneys can get rid of any excess in the urine. However, magnesium in dietary supplements and medications should not be consumed in amounts above the upper limit, unless recommended by a healthcare provider.
High intakes of magnesium from dietary supplements and medications can cause diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping. Extremely high intakes of magnesium can lead to irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest.
Signs of Magnesium Deficiency
Following are some signs of magnesium deficiency. Always check with your health practitioner if you think you are having a health issue.
Poor Cognitive Processing
Are you having bouts of brain fog, poor concentration, or constant memory issues? The brain contains the highest concentration of mitochondria in the male body (females have a higher concentration in their ovaries). Mitochondria are heavily reliant on magnesium for energy production so a deficiency can hamper your brain performance significantly.
Headaches & Chronic Migraines
Sufferers of chronic migraines often have lower levels of magnesium in their bodies. Magnesium also plays the additional key role of regulating neurotransmitter production, which can also influence migraines.
Constipation & IBS
Proper magnesium intake softens stools by drawing water into the bowels, which supports healthy elimination. If stools become too hard, they move slower through the colon and become a problem. Additionally, magnesium plays a major role in regulating muscle contractions in the intestines. This is why a magnesium deficiency often results in constipation.
Magnesium is highly involved with energy production. As mentioned before, the mitochondria in your cells heavily rely on magnesium to produce energy. Your mitochondrial function primarily determines your energy levels. Additionally, magnesium supports the adrenal glands, which can play a part in energy production as well.
You can see improvement with insomnia because magnesium is involved in the production of GABA in the brain. GABA is a chemical that promotes relaxation. If you do not have enough magnesium to produce adequate amounts of GABA, your sleep may suffer.
Muscle Spasms & Cramping
Magnesium is important for proper nerve transmission and plays a vital role in muscle contraction. When magnesium is depleted, muscle contractions can become weak and uncoordinated, leading to involuntary spasms and painful cramps.
In addition, when magnesium stores are low in the body, the nervous system can become hyper-excitable (meaning easily overstimulated) which can increase muscle tension. Magnesium can play a role here by helping to elicit an overall calming effect on the mind and body while soothing and relaxing the muscles.
The heart is a muscle that constantly contracts inside our bodies without needing to be consciously controlled. Just as with other muscles in the body, the heart relies heavily on magnesium for proper contractibility. This is thought to be due to its role in regulating calcium and potassium concentrations in the muscle tissue. This includes rapid heartbeats, slow heartbeats, and sudden changes in heart rhythm for no apparent reason.
Numbness and Tingling
If you often feel numbness or tingling sensations in your body, such as in the hands and feet, this is likely due to a change in nerve activity. Because of its role in healthy nerve transmission, magnesium deficiency may be partly playing a role. Some studies have shown that magnesium may be able to relieve or prevent numbness and tingling in the extremities.
Supporting Your Magnesium Levels
Follow these strategies to boost your magnesium levels.
Magnesium Rich Foods
There are great food sources that are easy to incorporate into your daily life. Pick a few high magnesium foods and incorporate them on a regular basis.
Epsom Salt Baths
Perhaps one of the most relaxing ways to get more magnesium into your body is by taking an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salts are actually a form of magnesium that can absorb into the body through the skin.
If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Visit the website at www.doctorlo.com.