Do you experience?
- Leg cramps startling you awake at night, making you an insomniac?
- When you yawn and stretch in bed, your calf muscles seize up?
- Daily heart palpitations that cause a slight cough and catching of breath?
These are symptoms of magnesium deficiency.
So what does magnesium do? Quite a lot! Magnesium regulates:
- 325 enzymes in the body, the most important of which produce, transport, store, and utilize energy
- many aspects of cell metabolism, such as DNA and RNA synthesis, cell growth, and cell reproduction
- nerve action
- activity of the heart
- neuromuscular transmission
- muscular contraction
- vascular tone
- blood pressure
- peripheral blood flow
- entry and release of calcium from the cell, which determines muscular activity
Consider that last item. It takes magnesium to get calcium into your cells. Osteoporosis is evidence of a deficiency of BOTH calcium AND magnesium. So taking calcium with vitamin D to enhance calcium absorption without also taking magnesium causes further magnesium deficiency, which in turn triggers a cascade of events leading to bone loss! Without magnesium, calcium will not work properly. Research shows that the ratio of calcium to magnesium in the Paleolithic or caveman diet from which we evolved was 1:1. With our current diet having an average of ten times more calcium than magnesium, you can see why magnesium deficiency is common.
Besides osteoporosis, there are numerous other symptoms of deficiency:
- Tooth decay. Magnesium deficiency causes an unhealthy balance of phosphorus and calcium in saliva, which damages teeth.
- Nerve problems. Magnesium alleviates peripheral nerve disturbances throughout the body, such as headaches, muscle contractions, gastrointestinal spasms, and calf, foot, and toe cramps. It is also used in treating the central nervous system symptoms of vertigo and confusion.
- Musculoskeletal conditions. Fibrositis, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, eye twitches, cramps, and chronic neck and back pain may be caused by magnesium deficiency and can be relieved with magnesium supplements. Calcium helps leg cramps, at least initially, because excess calcium forces magnesium to be released from storage sites. But if someone is magnesium-deficient, the excess calcium can begin to cause more problems.
- Migraine. Serotonin balance is magnesium-dependent. Deficiency of serotonin can result in migraine headaches and depression.
- Kidney disease. Magnesium deficiency contributes to atherosclerotic kidney failure.
- Insomnia. The production of melatonin (which regulates sleep) is disturbed without sufficient magnesium.
- Hypoglycemia. Magnesium keeps insulin under control; without magnesium, low blood sugar can result.
- Hypertension. With insufficient magnesium, blood vessels may go into spasm and cholesterol may rise, both of which lead to blood pressure problems.
- Heart disease. Magnesium deficiency is common in people with heart disease. In fact, magnesium is administered in hospitals for acute myocardial infarction and cardiac arrhythmia. Just like any other muscle, the heart requires magnesium.
- Fatigue. Magnesium-deficient patients commonly experience fatigue because dozens of enzyme systems are underfunctioning. An early symptom of magnesium deficiency is fatigue.
- Diabetes. Magnesium enhances insulin secretion, facilitating sugar metabolism. Without magnesium, insulin is not able to transfer glucose into cells. Glucose and insulin build up in the blood, causing various types of tissue damage.
- Depression. Serotonin, which elevates mood, is dependent on magnesium. A magnesium-deficient brain is also more susceptible to allergens, foreign substances that in rare instance can cause symptoms similar to mental illness.
- Cystitis. Bladder spasms are worsened by magnesium deficiency.
- Bowel disease. Magnesium deficiency down the bowel, causing constipation, which could lead to toxicity and malabsorption of nutrients as well as colitis.
- Blood clots. Magnesium has an important role to play in preventing blood clots and keeping the blood thin - without any side effects.
- Asthma. Both histamine production and bronchial spasms increase with magnesium deficiency.
- Anxiety and panic attacks. Magnesium normally helps keep adrenal stress hormones under control.
So just think about this:
- Magnesium is necessary in hundreds of enzymes in the body but is almost totally lost during the processing of packaged and fast foods.
- Good sources of magnesium are leafy vegetables, nuts, skim milk and whole grains, but the amount of magnesium in these foods are declining due to depletion of minerals in the soil.
And then add that prolonged psychological stress raises adrenaline, the stress hormone, which depletes magnesium!
So what can you do? If you supplement with calcium, zinc, and/or iron, then you must supplement with magnesium as well. Eat plenty of foods that are high in magnesium. Practice stress management techniques. And bathe ten minutes two or three times a week in Epsom Salts, since a 2004 research study showed that both magnesium and sulfate are safely absorbed through the skin when bathing in 1% solution.
Such simple things to do for health...
Want to know more about magnesium? I highly recommend The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean MD ND.