Magnesium is recognized as one of the most crucial minerals to man’s existence, not to mention all other living organisms. Yet most Americans are deficient in magnesium. On average, men absorb only 80 percent of the body’s minimum magnesium requirements, while women absorb only 70 percent of the magnesium they need.
A lack of magnesium can actually cause our bodies to malfunction in many different ways. Among the many minerals making up the body’s mineral content, magnesium is considered indispensable because it’s involved in regulating many different metabolic processes and enzymatic functions. It’s also a co-factor for other essential minerals and vitamins in our body. The bottom line – this ancient mineral is vital in all aspects of cell growth and production. About 60 to 65 percent of all our magnesium is found in our bones and teeth, with the remaining 35 to 40 percent in muscle, tissue cells and body fluids as well.
Magnesium Deficiency in Soil
Unhealthy farming practices have had a profound effect on the magnesium found in our soil. A 1936 Senate document stated that our farmland has been depleted of magnesium, causing most Americans to become deficient in magnesium. After the World War II, magnesium depletion got worse as soil was destroyed when tractors were used to cut down vast numbers of trees, and pesticides and herbicides were developed from wartime chemical weapons and defoliants to destroy unwanted species.
Magnesium is also susceptible to being leached from cultivated soil. Based on the dissolved magnesium in the Mississippi river, it’s estimated that the annual loss of magnesium from midwestern soils is 7.1 million kg, and likely more if the magnesium in undissolved dirt in the river is included. Deficient soil then produces nutrient deficiencies in our foods, including magnesium. Due to the increased amount of pollution in our urban and industrial environment, we are now experiencing an enormous amount of acid rain – yet another attack on our magnesium supply.
Magnesium and Diet
In 1988, a U.S government study concluded that the Standard American Diet (SAD) failed to provide the recommended daily requirement of magnesium needed for survival. This was over two decades ago. Since then, we’ve seen drastic changes in the way we produce food and how it affects our quality of life. Today’s modern diet is deficient in magnesium as a result of all the processing in our food supply.
We have now created a diet rich in the wrong types of fats such as hydrogenated oils, sugar, salt, synthetic Vitamin D, phosphates, supplemented calcium without magnesium and a plethora of other chemicals. A junk food diet lacks the necessary magnesium requirement needed for optimal survival. These changes have actually increased our need for magnesium in our bodies, and so we must now resort to supplementation.
Magnesium and Processed Foods
With modern-day economic food processing, we’ve lost most of the magnesium content in our daily food supply. Nearly all of the magnesium found in grains is lost during the milling process to make flour, and nuts and seeds rich in magnesium are being stripped of its content through the extraction process. When we overcook our vegetables, magnesium is also leached. However, less calcium is lost than magnesium, making our average diet higher in calcium than magnesium – which leads to a greater imbalance in the body.
Magnesium and Fluoridated Water
The introduction of fluoridated tap water has been a toxic overload on our society, and is a major concern since it’s linked to cancer and cardiovascular diseases. While most of Europe and half of the U.S. have abandoned the use of fluoride in their water supply, the other half still condone its use, and toothpaste still carries fluoride on the ingredient list. Antidepressants such as Prozac still have some fluoride molecules present as well.
Fluoride is an element that binds with magnesium to form magnesium fluoride, a mineral that’s almost insoluble and competes for the place of magnesium, lodging in hard tissues such as bone and cartilage. This makes magnesium less available for the body’s use. When this happens, the bone becomes very brittle and susceptible to fractures and breakage.
Magnesium and Drug Interaction
When pharmaceutical drugs are ingested, they cause the body to become too acidic. The body pulls from its magnesium reserve to neutralize the acidity and minimize its toxic effect. The most commonly known drugs that create this type of deficiency are as follows:
• Common diuretics (for high blood pressure)
• Bronchodilators such as theophylline (for asthma)
• Birth control pills
• Digitalis (for some heart conditions)
• Tetracycline and certain other antibiotics
• Corticosteroids (for asthma)
Why Else is Magnesium Important?
We’ve seen the major functions of magnesium and how important it is to our daily quality of life. Now we can actually recognize when we’re deficient in magnesium, what the main symptoms are, and how they relate to some of the conditions we suffer from. We can treat some of the most common types of symptoms with magnesium-rich foods and supplementation.
Anxiety and Depression
• Magnesium supports our adrenal glands, which can sometimes be overworked by stress
• Serotonin, “the feel good hormone”, relies on magnesium for its production and function
• Depression, anxiety, muscle weakness, fatigue, eye twitches, anorexia, apathy, apprehension, poor memory, confusion, anger, rapid pulse and nervousness can all be improved with magnesium
Migraine Headaches and Pain
• Magnesium relaxes the muscles in the neck and head, which reduces the probability of migraines
• A good treatment for migraines when combined with vitamin B2 and the herb feverfew
• Magnesium helps to prevent blood clotting, which causes muscle spasms, resulting in migraines and pain
• Pain threshold increases during premenstrual symptoms when enough magnesium is present in the body
Infertility, Pregnancy and Pre-eclampsia
• Magnesium helps in preventing hypertension in pregnant women
• Recent studies have shown that women who supplement with magnesium have healthier babies and lower rates of pre-eclampsia
• Magnesium prevents muscle spasms in the fallopian tubes, allowing the egg to travel easier where it can be fertilized
Osteoporosis and Kidney Stones
• Magnesium regulates the uptake of calcium by the cells in the body
• Magnesium is just as important to prevent osteoporosis as calcium
• Taking calcium without magnesium for osteoporosis can promote the formation of kidney stones
• Magnesium helps to keep calcium dissolved in the blood so it doesn’t calcify and form kidney stones
Strokes, Head Injuries and Brain Surgery
• Magnesium keeps excess calcium by regulating the calcium uptake by cells
• Magnesium protects the brain from toxic chemicals such as food additives and other toxic by-products from our processed food supply
• It acts as a vasodilator and blood sugar regulator by regulating the salt content from ingested MSG entering the brain tissue
Cholesterol, Heart Disease, Obesity and Diabetes
• Magnesium is a major antioxidant that helps in lowering cholesterol levels in the blood
• Magnesium reduces the chances of developing hypertension by relaxing the heart muscles
• Magnesium prevents muscle spasms in the heart and peripheral blood vessels
• Magnesium is important for insulin to open the cells membranes for glucose to enter the cells
• Magnesium helps prevent obesity genes from expressing themselves
• Magnesium helps the body digest absorb and utilize proteins, fats and carbohydrates
In conclusion, having all the knowledge we have about magnesium and its essential benefit to human survival, we have the power to change the way we nourish ourselves. While the recommended daily allowance for magnesium varies in different life stages, roughly six mg per kg of body weight is ideal. However, pregnant and lactating women, athletes and people who are overweight may require more. There are no known toxic side effects to having too much magnesium, so as far as we’re concerned, the more magnesium, the merrier!
Here are some Quick Tips to keep you On-Track:
• Try to consume wholesome organic fruits and vegetables rich in magnesium such as kale, collard and spinach
• Enjoy starchy, non-processed vegetables and legumes four times a week
• Include a variety of whole grains such as amaranth, buckwheat, millet and quinoa
• Use organic cold-pressed oils for your cooking
• Enjoy beans, nuts and seeds for their rich magnesium content
• Use natural spring or distilled water free of fluorides for your daily use
• Enjoy a variety of sea vegetables such as kelp, nori, arame, wakame, kombu and hijiki
• Use natural, raw, unheated nuts and replace regular butter with nut and seed butters
• Use a high-quality mineral salt such as Celtic sea salt rich in magnesium
• Limit the use of processed foods, refined sugars, alcoholic beverages and artificial flavoring
• Try to use non-fluoridated toothpaste
• Include herbs such as burdock, dandelion and chickweed in your eating plan
• Magnesium oil can be included in massages and your relaxation regime
• Magnesium supplementation in the bis-glycinate form is most absorbable