Magnesium is the eighth most abundant mineral on earth, and the third most abundant in sea water. More importantly, it is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and it is necessary in over 300 reactions within the body.
Magnesium isn't just abundant in the body, but vitally important too. As this article explains:
Every single cell in the human body demands adequate magnesium to function, or it will perish. Strong bones and teeth, balanced hormones, a healthy nervous and cardiovascular system, well functioning detoxification pathways and much more depend upon cellular magnesium sufficiency. Soft tissue containing the highest concentrations of magnesium in the body include the brain and the heart-two organs that produce a large amount of electrical activity, and which can be especially vulnerable to magnesium insufficiency.
Proper magnesium ratios are important for the body to correctly use calcium in the cells. Even a small deficiency can lead to a dangerous calcium imbalance and lead to problems like calcification and cell death. This manifests itself with symptoms like heart trouble, migraine headaches, muscle cramps and premenstrual cramping.
Where Has All The Magnesium Gone?
Unfortunately, most modern farming processes tax the soil, depleting it of its natural magnesium. On top of that, many hybrids are selectively bred to survive low levels of magnesium and most conventional fertilizers use nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, and do nothing to replenish magnesium levels.
Water was once a good source of magnesium, but now:
Fluoride in drinking water binds with magnesium, creating a nearly insoluble mineral compound that ends up deposited in the bones, where its brittleness increases the risk of fractures. Water, in fact, could be an excellent source of magnesium-if it comes from deep wells that have magnesium at their source, or from mineral-rich glacial runoff. Urban sources of drinking water are usually from surface water, such as rivers and streams, which are low in magnesium. Even many bottled mineral waters are quite low in magnesium, or have a very high concentration of calcium, or both.
These additional dietary factors can also deplete magnesium:
Consumption of caffeine
Consumption of sugar (It takes 28 molecules of magnesium to metabolize a single glucose molecule! source)
Consumption of processed food
Consumption of alcohol
Consumption of produce from depleted soil
Consumption of foods high in phytic acid
Additionally, drugs like birth control pills, hypertension medicine, diuretics, insulin, and certain antibiotics (among others) deplete magnesium levels. Sweating often from exercise or other causes can also deplete magnesium.
What Does Magnesium Do?
Magnesium is necessary for hundreds of functions within the body, but is especially important for:
Gives rigidity AND flexibility to your bones (more important than Calcium in many cases)
Increases bioavailability of calcium
Regulates and normalizes blood pressure
Prevents and reverses kidney stone formation
Promotes restful sleep
Helps prevent congestive heart failure
Eases muscle cramps and spasms
Lowers serum cholesterol levels and triglycerides
Decreases insulin resistance
Can prevent atherosclerosis and stroke
End cluster and
Relieves fibromyalgia and chronic pain
Treats asthma and emphysema
Helps make proteins
Encourages proper elimination
Proper Vitamin D absorption
protection from radiation
To aid weight loss
Lessen or remove ADD or ADHD in children
in proper digestion of carbohydrates
emerging evidence is showing a preventative role in many cancers
Even though magnesium deficiency is rarely addressed in medical settings, the National Institutes of Health website states that:
Some observational surveys have associated higher blood levels of magnesium with lower risk of coronary heart disease [50-51]. In addition, some dietary surveys have suggested that a higher magnesium intake may reduce the risk of having a stroke . There is also evidence that low body stores of magnesium increase the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, which may increase the risk of complications after a heart attack . These studies suggest that consuming recommended amounts of magnesium may be beneficial to the cardiovascular system.
Are You Low in Magnesium?
As I said above, the answer is likely 'yes' in today's world, as over 80% of tested adults are. Unfortunately, blood tests are relatively ineffective in gauging magnesium levels as less than 1% of magnesium is in the blood.
Low magnesium levels are often diagnosed by symptoms alone, and the following symptoms can point to low magnesium levels:
Inability to sleep or insomnia
Sensitivity to noise
Anxiety, depression or restlessness
Muscle soreness or spasms
Infertility or PMS
High levels of stress
Heart "flutters" or palpitations
Fatigue or unusual tiredness
Coldness in extremities
Fuzzy brain or difficulty concentrating
Allergies and sensitivities
Lack of appetite
Bad short term memory
Frequent cavities or poor dental health
If you have more than one of the above symptoms and especially if you have more than five, it is highly likely that you could benefit from magnesium supplementation.
How To Get Enough Magnesium
Unfortunately, magnesium is often not well absorbed by the digestive track, and is even more difficult to absorb if you are deficient or are low in vitamin D, have poor gut bacteria or suffer from a number of other conditions.
On top of that, most foods are depleted of their natural magnesium levels and the water supply is lacking also. For this reason, I often use topical magnesium supplementation for our family.
There are several ways to supplement, and a mixture of more than one type of magnesium supplementation seems to be most effective. It is important to start slow and work up, as high doses will not be completely absorbed at first and most will be wasted. There is also evidence that over half of all magnesium taken internally is not used and leaves the body as waste.
Leafy green vegetables, sea vegetables, kelp, and especially nettle are good dietary sources of magnesium. Raw Organic Cacao Powder also is a great source of magnesium. Do not warm it up, because it will lose all of is nutritional benefits.