August 6, 2013 by Dr. Sana Keller
Of all the minerals our bodies need to function well, we tend to hear the most about calcium and potassium. Yes, they play important roles in maintaining great health, but we can’t afford to forget about magnesium! Magnesium deserves equal billing with the other minerals above, especially since it plays a role in over 300 different enzyme actions in our bodies—and estimates are showing that as many as 80% of Americans are deficient in this mineral. The typical blood serum magnesium test measures levels outside the cells (in the blood)–and only 1% of the body’s magnesium is stored in the blood. Thus it is not that helpful in assessing overall magnesium status. Nearly half of our body’s magnesium is found inside the cells, with about half found in our bones. An RBC Magnesium test provides a more accurate reading, but may not be readily available.
Magnesium deficiency increases the risk of abnormal heart rhythms as well as the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Deficient magnesium levels have also been linked to elevated inflammatory markers (i.e. CRP <C-reactive protein> and ESR <Erythrocyte sedimentation rate>). Inflammation (measured by inflammatory markers) is present in many health conditions including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and infections.
You are more likely to be deficient in magnesium if you can relate to any of these:
—Moderate to high stress levels on a regular basis
—Taking calcium supplements without magnesium
—Taking heart, asthma, or heartburn medications, antibiotics, birth control pills or estrogen replacement
—Regularly consuming carbonated beverages, coffee, or alcohol
—Regularly consuming sweets, pastries, and desserts
Magnesium is necessary for muscle relaxation, so classic signs of potential magnesium deficiency include muscle spasms and cramping, facial tics, anxiety, headaches, tremors, eye twitches, involuntary eye movements, and fibromyalgia.
Health Benefits of Adequate Magnesium Levels:
- Promotes a healthy blood pressure
- Helps lower risk of sudden cardiac arrest, heart disease and stroke
- Aids in carbohydrate metabolism and helps regulate insulin activity, which in turn promotes balanced blood sugar levels (very important for diabetics and pre-diabetics)
- Helps maintain strong bones (it’s not just calcium that’s needed)
- Assists in digestive process for better absorption of nutrients
- Serves as a powerful detoxifier of toxins in the body
Good Sources of Magnesium:
- Green, leafy veggies (i.e. spinach, romaine, dandelion & collard greens—NOT iceberg lettuce!)
- Almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans
- Sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds
- Cocoa powder
- Beans, peas
- Barley, brown rice, millet, Flaxseed
- Figs, dates
- Coriander, Basil
In addition to eating of fresh, whole foods, magnesium can also be supplemented with oral supplements as well as transdermal (absorbed through the skin). Supplements vary in absorption rates and effectiveness, so it is best to consult with a knowledgeable health care professional about what would be best for you. And please remember that it’s not just magnesium that needs to be addressed—rather, maintaining a healthy balance of Calcium, Vitamin D, and Magnesium is key for optimal health.
Please submit your questions below or contact me through my website: http://www.healthunlimited.biz
Photo credits: drlavanga.com & ontariohealth.org