By Sophie Pattihis
Most of us, when considering healthy minerals and nutrients, think about antioxidants, omega oils, calcium etc. Yet we man have overlooked an essential in our diets, magnesium.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, found in teeth, bones and red blood cells. About half is found in the bones and the rest in soft tissue, 1% is left in the blood, rendering blood tests notoriously difficult to test for magnesium deficiencies.
Magnesium is the most interactive mineral, it is essential for numerous biochemical reactions in the body (350, in fact, more than zinc and iron combined!!) Our bodies use magnesium to maintain and regulate normal nerve and muscle function, regulate heart beat, and keep bones and teeth strong.
Magnesium also plays a key role in preventing disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Our bodies absorb magnesium through the small intestines and excretes excess through the kidneys. However our intestines are not very good at absorbing large quantities of magnesium, so taking large doses of magnesium supplement may result in diarrhoea. Absorption of magnesium is dramatically reduced with poor digestion, particularly as we age.
Magnesium chloride is the form favoured by our bodies for the most efficient absorption and assimilation. Magnesium chloride is the direct result of evaporation of sea water, so all natural! this form is pure and perfect for absorption through the skin!
Cardiff University carried out the first clinical trial demonstrating the efficiency of magnesium absorption through the skin.
An earlier trial in 2010 indicated that the body remineralised five times faster if magnesium was applied topically rather than oral (subligual) supplementation!!
There are several causes of magnesium deficiency.
Modern western diets.
The question of 'what causes low magnesium?' in some ways is easier to answer by examining modern western diets. A visit to my local supermarket finds cashiers unable to identify basic green leafy vegetables such as kale, chard, mustard greens, all magnesium rich!
Feed your body food it can actually use!
Typical western diets are rich in fat, salt, sugar, supplemented vitamin D, phosphates, protein and supplemented calcium. These diets are not only deficient in magnesium but also increase the bodies need for magnesium!
High sat-fat diets: reduce magnesium absorption in the intestines
High sugar diets: increase excretion of magnesium through kidneys, adding to adrenal exhaustion.
Phosphates found in carbonated drinks such a dark coloured pops (cola): bind magnesium rendering it unstable and unsuitable for the body to assimilate.
Today, modern farming has depleted the soils. Artificial fertiliser favours some minerals over others. Over processing food, may increases shelf life, but depletes food of magnesium.
Whole grain wheat flour loses 80% of it magnesium when converted to white bread!
For millions of years our diets have included magnesium rich foods. But mass production and high demand means many rely on convenience rather than nutrients.
Diets rich in Magnesium include:
Magnesium deficiencies develop over time so we often miss the symptoms until they are exacerbated by old age, menopause or when the body is under stress. Symptoms include.
Magnesium is the key mineral involved in the enzymatic process of converting food to energy. Several studies indicate that individuals with low magnesium levels use more energy and tire quickly. Magnesium is also essential for both the synthesis and secretion of insulin,(diabetics are found to have low levels of magnesium).
PMS and Hormonal Imbalances.
low levels of magnesium are directly attributed to PMS and hormonal imbalances. Studies carried out by a Dr David Thomas showed how sufferers tend to share common dietary patterns, consuming only a quarter of their necessary magnesium, almost 80% more dairy and a staggering 275% more sugar!!
Poor sleep patterns and insomnia are strongly linked to magnesium deficiencies. Waking throughout the night, muscle spasms, cramps and restlessness are all symptomatic of low magnesium levels.
Although calcium is the most abundant skeletal mineral, it is very hard for the body to absorb it on its own. It requires a balance of hydrochloric acid, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin D to be absorbed into bone. Calcification occurs when there are insufficient levels of these, calcium remains insoluble and is instead deposited throughout the body in soft tissue, joints, muscles, arteries as plaque.
Cramps and spasms.
Whilst calcium is responsible for the contraction phase of muscle movement, magnesium is responsible for the relaxation phase. Cramping at night and irritating twitches in and around the eyes are often signs of low magnesium. Restless leg syndrome (a poorly understood neurological disorder) responds wells to magnesium chloride rubbed into muscles.
Headaches can be a sign of many things going on, muscle tension, nerve problems, dehydration, straining of the eyes etc but many don't attribute low magnesium to headaches too. Many studies indicate there is a strong relationship between headaches, migraines and low levels of magnesium in the bloodstream. Magnesium allows blood vessels to relax and dilate, encouraging normal blood flow to the brain.
Anxiety, nerves, irritability.
Magnesium is tied very closely to adrenal processes and particularly the manufacturing of stress hormones. Insufficient levels of magnesium in the body can result in over-production of stress hormones such as cortisol, resulting in symptoms of anxiety and mood swings.
Kidney stones are a result of urinary deposits producing a hard mass of calcification, the most common containing calcium oxidate. Due to magnesium's effects on converting insoluble calcium into soluble, body friendly calcium in the urine, magnesium helps prevent the recurrence of calcium oxidtate kidney stones.
Magnesium is one of the beauty minerals, helping to maintain skin elasticity and dermal protection. low levels can lead to skin problems, poor healing and complexion.
So try incorporating more green leaves, nuts and seeds into your diet and if that isn't enough supplement and see how increasing your magnesium uptake makes you feel!