Are you suffering from anxiety? Having muscle spasms or cramping? Having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep? You are not alone. In fact, 70% of Americans are not getting enough of this essential mineral and only 20% of Americans are getting even half of their daily value. What is this mineral? Magnesium!
Magnesium is essential for a properly functioning nervous system including nerve conduction and electrolyte balances. Magnesium is also necessary for proper muscle function as it's the body's natural muscle relaxant. Low magnesium has also been associated with personality changes and depression. Magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body and is also needed for proper blood coagulation, energy production, bone and cell formation, and nutrient absorption.
How do you know if you're deficient? Not by a blood test! Only 1% of the body's magnesium is found in the blood and only .3% is found in the blood serum, so a blood test will not identify a magnesium deficiency. In fact, magnesium deficiency may actually show up as a calcium deficiency since they complement each other in the body. If your doctor has recommended you take a calcium supplement, you need to take magnesium supplement with it. Low magnesium coupled with high calcium intake will actually lead to calcification of the heart, arteries, and other organs which can put you at risk for many other health conditions. The best ratio to guide yourself by is a 1:1 calcium to magnesium ratio. However, make sure you're not using a supplement with only magnesium oxide in it, as this form of magnesium isn't absorbed efficiently and is really a waste of your money. Here's a great product with three different and very absorbing forms of magnesium, Triple Mag.
What are some risk factors for magnesium deficiency?
1) Drinking dark colored carbonated beverages. The phosphates contained in dark beverages bind with magnesium in the body to reduce your magnesium levels.
2) Eating or drinking highly sugary products including those with artificial sugar. Refined sugar has no magnesium and actually causes your body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys. In addition, these products also strip your body of many other highly essential nutrients and can leave you at risk for many health problems.
3) Drinking caffeinated beverages. Caffeine works similarly to refined sugar in that it causes the kidneys to excrete magnesium.
4) Drinking alcoholic beverages. Alcohol also increases kidney excretion of magnesium. Alcohol also tends to lower the efficiency of your digestive tract and lower Vitamin D levels which can further lower magnesium levels.
5) Taking diuretics, heart medications, asthma medication, birth control pills, or estrogen replacement therapy. These medications will also increase magnesium excretion through the kidneys.
6) Excessive stress in your life whether from physical, emotional, or psychological stressors. Stressful conditions cause the body to use more magnesium and a lack of magnesium tends to make stress responses more severe. The hormones associated with stress, adrenaline and cortisol, were also associated with magnesium deficiency.
7) Do you have GI or digestive issues? Many issues with magnesium deficiency arise from an improperly functioning digestive tract. If your "good" intestinal bacteria aren't at the proper levels and you're not eating a diet to make them thrive you're putting yourself at risk for many other nutrient deficiencies. A probiotic with numerous strains of intestinal bacteria can help solve this problem along with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. I recommend Ultrabiotic or Pedia biotic for children.
8) Are you over 55? Older adults are particularly susceptible to lower magnesium levels due to lower diet levels of calcium, decreased absorption in the kidneys and GI tract due to aging, and stress levels.
Need some guidance? Call my office to setup a nutritional consultation in the office or on the phone 309-689-6200.