THE BLOG

Are You Getting Enough Magnesium?

26/06/2014 14:24 BST | Updated 25/08/2014 10:59 BST

Magnesium, 'nature's tranquiliser', is the one mineral your body can't afford for you to ignore.

This powerful mineral is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions in your body. In emergency medicine, magnesium is given all the time, to pregnant women with pre-eclampsia or arrhythmia for example. Yet in palliative medicine this is commonly over looked despite its central role in normal energy metabolism, healthy bones and teeth, the reduction of fatigue and even anxiety and stress. Yet, did you know that it is one of the most common dietary deficiencies in the world? 75% of western women estimated to have inadequate levels, most of whom don't even know it.

A respected scientific review[i] of magnesium concluded, "It is highly regrettable that the deficiency of such an inexpensive, low-toxicity nutrient results in diseases that cause incalculable suffering and expense throughout the world."

How would you know if you could be magnesium deficient?

The following symptoms are commonly experienced when magnesium is low:

Muscle Cramps/twitches

Heart Palpitations

Angina

Menstrual cramps

High blood pressure

Diabetes

Obesity

Osteoporosis

Insomnia/Irritability

Sensitivity to loud noises

Anxiety

ADD Learning difficulties

PMS

Asthma

Constipation/Menstrual cramps

Irritable bladder

Irritable bowel syndrome

Reflux

Kidney stones

Headaches

Migraines

Fibromyalgia

Chronic fatigue

Why are so many of us deficient?

Firstly, the modern 'convenience' diet of shop bought lunches and white, highly processed grains, meat and dairy provide us with a pitiful amount of magnesium. Secondly, our modern life appears to conspire to help us lose what precious little we had in the first place. Alcohol, stress, coffee, sweating, digestive ill health, parasitic infection, heavy menstruation, laxatives, diuretics, ant-acids and contraceptive pill are all examples of how we can reduce our magnesium store. Lastly, to effectively absorb magnesium we need adequate levels of other vitamins too, vitamin B6 and vitamin D as well as the trace mineral selenium.

Can you test for it?

The most common test used by conventional medicine is a serum magnesium test but is this perhaps the least sensitive way to detect a drop in your TOTAL body magnesium. The most effective marker is to measure red blood cell magnesium instead, this tells us how much magnesium is actually reaching the body tissue.

Support your magnesium levels

Nourish yourself with magnesium rich foods including, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, wheat germ, oats, millet, buckwheat, avocado, barley, brown rice, kelp, collard greens, kale, figs and dates. Be mindful of your coffee intake, alcohol and long-term medication. If anxiety, menstrual cramps, sleep problems or stress are ongoing concerns for you supplementing your healthy diet with a food form of magnesium such as Food-State Magnesium may support you further.

[i] S. Johnson. 2001. The multifaceted and widespread pathology of magnesium deficiency. Med Hypotheses 56(2): 163-70