Every single organ in the body uses magnesium, especially the kidneys, heart, and muscles.
Sometimes, you might not be aware of the fact that the eye twitches, muscle spasms, unexplained fatigue or weakness, or abnormal heart rhythms you experience are only symptoms of its deficiency in the body.
Apparently, only 1 percent of magnesium in the body is distributed in the blood, and most of it is stored in the bones and organs. Magnesium deficiency is also known as “invisible deficiency”, as numerous people are not even aware they are suffering from it.
It has been estimated that over 80 percent of Americans lack this mineral in their body. Another study found that only 25 percent of the population in the U.S. gets the recommended daily amount of 310 to 320 milligrams (mg) for women and 400 to 420 for men.
Moreover, Dr. Carolyn Dean, a medical and naturopathic doctor, claims that even if you get this amount, it is “just enough to ward off outright deficiency”.
Despite its role in the health of your bones and heart, magnesium can do a lot more! Apparently, research has found 3,751 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins, showing its vital role in overall health and diseases.
It is included in over 300 different enzymes in the body and is helps the detoxification of the body, which prevents damage due to heavy metals, environmental chemicals, and other toxins. Plus, it also plays a role in:
- Acting as a precursor to neurotransmitters such as serotonin
- Activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and thus creating energy
- Activating muscles and nerves
- Helping the digestion of fats, proteins, carbohydrates
- Serving as a building block for RNA and DNA synthesis
This mineral has been in the focus of the numerous studies conducted by Dr. Dean for 15 years. In her latest addition of her book, The Magnesium Miracle, released in 2014, it is said that magnesium deficiency triggers or causes issues in 22 medical areas, including:
- Blood clots
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Tooth decay
- Liver disease
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Bowel diseases
- nerve issues
- Obstetrics and gynecology (PMS, infertility, and preeclampsia)
- Raynaud’s syndrome
- Musculoskeletal conditions (fibromyalgia, cramps, chronic back pain, etc.)
The early symptoms of magnesium deficiency include weakness, headaches, appetite loss, nausea, and fatigue.
If this issue continues for a longer period of time, one experiences seizures, coronary spasms, personality changes, numbness and tingling, abnormal heart rhythms, and muscle cramps and contractions.
The Role of Magnesium in Diabetes, Cancer, and More diseases
Numerous studies have found that magnesium can be of great help in the prevention of chronic diseases.
Namely, researchers have discovered its properties to support the proper function of the metabolism,—specifically in terms of insulin sensitivity, glucose regulation, and protection from type 2 diabetes.
Its increased intake lowers the risk of impaired glucose and insulin metabolism and slows the progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes in middle-aged Americans.
According to researchers “Magnesium intake may be particularly beneficial in offsetting your risk of developing diabetes if you are high risk.”
Moreover, higher magnesium levels have also been linked to a higher bone mineral density in both men and women. One Norwegian study found a link between magnesium in drinking water and a lower risk of hip fractures.
This mineral can also lower the risk of cancer. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study which found that higher intakes of dietary magnesium led to a lower risk of colorectal tumors.
The meta-analysis showed that every 100-mg increase in magnesium intake lowered the risk of colorectal tumor by 13 percent, and the risk of colorectal cancer by 12 percent.
The researchers believe this is due to the property of magnesium to reduce insulin resistance, which might have a positive impact on the development of tumors.
Factors that affect Your Magnesium Levels
Magnesium is found in seaweed and green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard in high levels, and other rich sources of the mineral include avocados, beans, nuts, and seeds, like pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds. Yet, most foods lack it along with other minerals, as, according to Dr. Dean:
“Magnesium is farmed out of the soil much more than calcium… A hundred years ago, we would get maybe 500 milligrams of magnesium in an ordinary diet. Now we’re lucky to get 200 milligrams.”
The uptake and use of minerals in numerous foods are depleted by herbicides, such as glyphosate, which act as chelators, so we cannot easily find magnesium-rich foods. Moreover, this mineral is additionally depleted by cooking and processing.
Some foods also affect its absorption. The excessive alcohol intake interferes with your body’s absorption of vitamin D, which is helpful for magnesium absorption.
The excess intake of sugar makes the body excrete magnesium through the kidneys, “resulting in a net loss,” in the words of Dr. Danine Fruge, associate medical director at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Florida.
Lower magnesium levels might also be a result of:
- Excessive intake of soda or caffeine
- An unhealthy digestive system, which damages the ability of the body to absorb magnesium (Crohn’s disease, leaky gut, etc.)
- Some medications, like diuretics, corticosteroids (prednisone or Deltasone), antacids, certain antibiotics (like gentamicin and tobramycin), and insulin
- Older age (the elderly are more prone to magnesium deficiency as absorption decreases with age, and they also use more medications. )
Furthermore, when trying to increase magnesium levels in your body, you need to consider calcium, vitamin D3, and vitamin K2 as well, as they all function synergistically with one another. For example, excessive levels of calcium without the counterbalance of magnesium might cause heart attack and sudden death, for instance.
Also, research on the Paleolithic or caveman diet found that the ratio of calcium to magnesium in the diet that the human bodies evolved to eat is 1-to-1, and our modern diets have a higher ratio, about 3.5-to-1.
In case your calcium levels are high, but you lack magnesium, you will experience issues like muscle spasms, and heart problems. According to Dr. Dean:
“What happens is, the muscle and nerve function that magnesium is responsible for is diminished. If you don’t have enough magnesium, your muscles go into spasm. Calcium causes muscles to contract. If you had a balance, the muscles would do their thing. They’d relax, contract, and create their activity.”
You should also consider the amounts of vitamins K2 and D. Their misbalance is one of the reasons why calcium supplements have been linked to the increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, and why some people experience vitamin D toxicity.
This might also be a result of the deficiency of vitamin K2 which needs to keep calcium in its appropriate place, and its low levels lead to the accumulation of calcium in the wrong places, such as the soft tissue.
Moreover, if you take high amounts of vitamin D supplements without enough K2 and magnesium, you might experience vitamin D toxicity and magnesium deficiency symptoms, including inappropriate calcification that damages the heart.
One of the best ways to increase your magnesium levels is to juice your greens. If you decide to take supplements, there are numerous types of magnesium supplements, as it needs to be bound to another substance. This second substance affects its absorption and bioavailability as well as its health benefits.
Ones of the best ones you can use are magnesium threonate and citrate, as they penetrate cell membranes, including the mitochondria, and boost the energy levels. Plus, they penetrate the blood- brain barrier and boost memory, treat and prevent dementia.
The “bowel test “ is the best way to see if you are taking too much magnesium. According to Dr. Dean:
“The best way to tell if you are getting enough magnesium is the “bowel test”. You know when you have too much magnesium when your stools become loose. This, in fact, may be a blessing for people with constipation… [which] is one of the many ways magnesium deficiency manifests.”
These are some other magnesium supplement types you can use:
- Magnesium oxide, which is a non-chelated type of magnesium, and is bound to an organic acid or a fatty acid. It has 60 percent magnesium, but its use might lead to stool softening properties
- Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium, and it offers the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability.
- Magnesium citrate is the combination of magnesium with citric acid. It is cost effective, well absorbed, but might act as a laxative
- Magnesium taurate is a mix of magnesium and taurine, an amino acid, which calms the body and mind.
- Magnesium threonate has a superior ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane, and is the newest alternative, but offers promising effects and might become the best magnesium supplement on the market
- Magnesium chloride/Magnesium lactate has only 12 percent magnesium, but better absorption than others
- Magnesium carbonate has antacid properties and has 45 percent magnesium
- Magnesium sulfate/Magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia) supplements are typically used as laxatives, so make sure you use them as directed.
Epsom salt baths or foot baths are a miraculous way to raise your magnesium levels. Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate that the skin absorbs quickly. You can also use magnesium oil for topical application and absorption.
However, always make sure you avoid supplements which contain magnesium stearate, as it is common, but potentially harmful additive.