Magnesium is a mineral used by every organ in your body, especially your heart, muscles, and kidneys. If you suffer from unexplained fatigue or weakness, abnormal heart rhythms, migraine headaches or even muscle spasms and eye twitches, low levels of magnesium could be to blame.
If you’ve recently had a blood test, you might assume it would show a magnesium deficiency. But only 1 percent of magnesium in your body is distributed in your blood, making a simple sample of magnesium from a serum magnesium blood test not very useful.
Most magnesium is stored in your bones and organs, where it is used for many biological functions. Yet, it’s quite possible to be deficient and not know it, which is why magnesium deficiency has been dubbed the “invisible deficiency.”
By some estimates, up to 80 percent of Americans are not getting enough magnesium and may be deficient. Other research shows only about 25 percent of US adults are getting the recommended daily amount of 310 to 320 milligrams (mg) for women and 400 to 420 for men.2
Even more concerning, consuming even this amount is “just enough to ward off outright deficiency,” according to Dr. Carolyn Dean, a medical and naturopathic doctor.
Magnesium is often thought of primarily as a mineral for your heart and bones, but this is misleading. Researchers have now detected 3,751 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins, indicating that its role in human health and disease may have been vastly underestimated.
Magnesium is also found in more than 300 different enzymes in your body and plays a role in your body's detoxification processes, making it important for helping to prevent damage from environmental chemicals, heavy metals, and other toxins. In addition, magnesium is necessary for:
- Activating muscles and nerves
- Creating energy in your body by activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
- Helping digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats
- Serving as a building block for RNA and DNA synthesis
- Acting as a precursor for neurotransmitters like serotonin
Dr. Dean has studied and written about magnesium for more than 15 years. The latest addition of her book, The Magnesium Miracle, came out in 2014 and in it she outlines 22 medical areas that magnesium deficiency triggers or causes, all of which have all been scientifically proven. This includes:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Bowels diseases
- Migraine headaches
- Kidney Disease
Early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, headache, nausea, fatigue, and weakness. An ongoing magnesium deficiency can lead to more serious symptoms, including
- Numbness & tingling
- Muscle contraction and cramps
- Personality changes
Most people do not think about magnesium when they think about how to prevent chronic disease, but it plays an essential role. For instance, there have been several significant studies about magnesium's role in keeping your metabolism running efficiently—specifically in terms of insulin sensitivity, glucose regulation, and protection from type 2 diabetes.
Higher magnesium intake reduces risk of impaired glucose and insulin metabolism and slows progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes in middle-aged Americans.
Researchers stated, "Magnesium intake may be particularly beneficial in offsetting your risk of developing diabetes, if you are high risk."
Multiple studies have also shown that higher magnesium intake is associated with a higher bone mineral density in both men and women, and research from Norway has even found an association between magnesium in drinking water and a lower risk of hip fractures.
Magnesium may even help lower your risk of cancer, and a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionshowed that higher intakes of dietary magnesium were associated with a lower risk of colorectal tumors.
Results from the meta-analysis indicated that for every 100-mg increase in magnesium intake, the risk of colorectal tumor decreased by 13 percent, while the risk of colorectal cancer was lowered by 12 percent. The researchers noted magnesium’s anti-cancer effects may be related to its ability to reduce insulin resistance, which may positively affect the development of tumors.
Surprising Factors That Influence Your Magnesium Levels
According to Dr. Dean: "Magnesium is farmed out of the soil much more than calcium… A hundred years ago, we would get maybe 500 milligrams of magnesium in an ordinary diet. Now we're lucky to get 200 milligrams.”
Herbicides, like glyphosate also act as chelators, effectively blocking the uptake and utilization of minerals in so many foods grown today. As a result, it can be quite difficult to find truly magnesium-rich foods. Cooking and processing further depletes magnesium.
One of the most recent innovations in magnesium supplementation has been the blending of B group vitamin (particularly B6) with Magnesium and Zinc to improve the uptake of the magnesium into the blood stream. Its referred to in scientific terms as “crossing the blood-brain barrier”.
Meanwhile, certain foods can actually influence your body’s absorption of magnesium. If you drink alcohol in excess, for instance, it may interfere with your body’s absorption of vitamin D, which in turn is helpful for magnesium absorption
Tips for Increasing Your Magnesium Levels
Supplementation is important but it needs to be with a supplement formulated to cross the blood-brain barrier. One such supplement on the market is called Migraine Stop and while it was originally formulated to prevent migraine headaches it is also an excellent all round magnesium supplement and can be used to treat muscle spasms, cramping, PMS, fatigue and all other symptoms caused by magnesium deficiency.
Natural Health Media
Natural Health Media, a division of the Complimentary Healthcare Group (CHG), provides media articles backed by clinical data and research on complimentary options for healthcare. Supported by a unique group of Doctors from around the world, NHM provides a snapshot on alternative health and the growing clinical evidence to support the uses of alternative medicines.
Dr David Goldstein