Magnesium is essential for over 300 biochemical reactions in your body. Despite magnesium being the fourth most abundant mineral in your body it is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies. It plays an important role in regulating our day-to-day metabolic functions, influencing everything from the manufacture of DNA, RNA and protein to the energy for your cells and the regulation of blood pressure, production of antioxidants, metabolism of glucose and insulin and everything in between.

Interestingly in order for your body to uptake calcium you must have sufficient levels of magnesium. Without which calcium deposits are left in the kidneys (kidney stones), arteries and joints.   Vitamin D also requires magnesium in order to become active in your body, without which your body will store Vitamin D in its inactive form. This means that all those wonderful vitamin D supplements you’re taking are effectively rendered useless! (1)

The way in which Magnesium deficiency presents is often confused with other conditions as there are many similarities making it a tricky one to figure out. If any of these symptoms ring true to you, there is a strong chance that you’re suffering from depleted magnesium levels;

Fatigue; aches and pains; mood problems; muscle cramps; migraines; PMS; Irregular sleep patterns and insomnia; Heart irregularities; muscle twitches and spasms; anxiety; digestive trouble; poor appetite; constipation; brain fog; memory problems; depression; ADHD. (2)

Signs of magnesium deficiency:

  • Muscle cramps and spasms – Random cramps and spasms in your legs and feet or other places in your body. (3)
  • Low Thyroid hormone levels – magnesium is essential to the production of thyroid hormones. (4)
  • Sleep Issues – Your brain requires magnesium to make use of GABA (a nervous system neuro-transmitter) which works to calm your brain, a lack of magnesium can result in insomnia.
  • Anxiety / depression – Magnesium creates strong neurological pathways within the brain and has been demonstrated to be a rapidly effective intervention for depression and anxiety. (5,6,7)
  • Adrenal fatigue – Magnesium helps to regulate cortisol levels allowing for more balanced hormone production. 
  • Poor Memory  – Magnesium plays a vital role in the regulating brain receptors required for learning and memory function. Supplementing with magnesium has been shown to help clear “brain-fog” (8)
  • Migraines and other headaches – an estimated 50% of people suffering migraines and headaches are magnesium deficient. (9)
  • Heart Problems – Studies have shown that a lower level of magnesium intake increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 50 – 80 % (10)
  • Inflammation – Inflammation is common in just about every chronic health condition. Magnesium has been shown to decrease CRP which is a measure of generalised inflammation. (11)
  • ADHD – studies have shown that 200 milligrams of magnesium daily over six months had a significant decrease of hyperactivity symptoms when compared with children who didn’t take magnesium. (12)
  • Insulin resistance – studies have shown magnesium intake to improve insulin sensitivity reducing instances of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. (13)
  • Weak bones – 90% of magnesium in the body is stored in the bones, if you are deficient in magnesium the body will make use of stored magnesium in your bones which will result in weaker bones. (14)

So, why are you potentially magnesium deficient?

It’s a good question and in most cases it pretty simply boils down to the food that the majority of people consume. Modern “western” diets are highly processed and refined.  Based on meat, white flour and dairy; these staples contain no magnesium.

Simple changes to your diet will go along way to aid your magnesium levels. Try to include the following foods in your diet as much and as often as you can.    

Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, brazil nuts, filberts, millet, pecans, walnuts, rye, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic.

If you suffer from or think you may be magnesium deficient you may want to consider supplementation, however just like everything in life not all magnesium is created equal. Absorbing magnesium also requires the presence of a number of other vitamins and minerals. 

Magnesium deficiency can be a very serious problem. For help and advice with your unique nutritional requirements please feel free to get in touch.

The 26th of April 1986 saw one of the worst nuclear power plant disasters unfolded. When one of Chernobyl’s four reactors exploded releasing un-paralleled levels of radioactivity into the atmosphere, which would end up scattered over parts of the Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and even as far as Wales (radioactive sheep I kid you not!) 1,2. This single event would be the catalyst for a staggering rise in thyroid disorders propelling them to become one of the most common health problems in areas affected by the Chernobyl radioactive fallout (3)

To put this into perspective, the explosion at Chernobyl was 400 times stronger than the Hiroshima atomic bomb (1) releasing close to 2EBq (2000000000000000000 Bq) worth of radioactivity into the air. By comparison the maximum therapeutic dose of iodine -131 used in cancer treatment clinics is 7.4 GBq (7400000000 Bq) Chernobyl released 270000000 times the therapeutic cancer dose. 

During the explosion three main radioactive elements were released into the atmosphere each with its own half-life (the time it takes for half of the element to disintegrate) and ability to affect the body.

Iodine-131: Half-life of 8 days – known to lead to thyroid problems

Strontium-137: Half-life of 29 years, can cause leukemia 

Cesium-90: Half-life of 30 years can harm the entire body especially the liver and spleen.

How Radioactive Iodine effects the thyroid

Iodine (I-131) a byproduct of energy production in a nuclear reactor was absorbed into humans and animals via inhalation, the consumption of contaminated foods (vegetables and meats) and drinking contaminated milk from animals grazing on contaminated grass. (6)

Up to 1/3 of all radioactive iodine in the body will be up-taken into the thyroid gland. As the radioactive iodine decays, it emits radiation affecting not only the thyroid itself but the surrounding and nearby tissue in doing so capillaries carrying oxygenated blood are prevented from reaching the area. The result of so many dying cells is sudden chronic inflammation. Consequentially the immune cells congregate at the thyroid to clear away the dead cells among which they find the debris of TPO and Tg cells which will be stored in the immune memory as a pathogenic invader of years to come. (7,8)

Despite the fact that I-131 has a short half-life the damaged nuclear reactor continued to emit I-131 for about 40 days after the incident. It took roughly seven months of the emitted I-131 to decay to a safe level thus those exposed over this time would passively absorb enough I-131 to cause thyroid and other health issues for years to come (2).

Following the Chernobyl disaster, a significant increase in underactive thyroid cases would be reported in people living in the most affected areas of the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia with a notably large increase in the number of childhood and adult thyroid cancer cases. (4,9 – 12). 


  1. International Atomic Agency. Frequently Asked Chernobyl Questions, 2005
  2. Nuclear Energy agency. Chernobyl: Assessment of Radiological and Health Impact 2002 Update of Chernobyl: Ten Years On, 2002
  3. Detours V, et al. Genome-wide gene expression profiling suggests distinct radiation susceptibilities in sporadic and post-Chernobyl papillary thyroid cancers, 2007
  4. Williams D. Twenty years’ experience with post-Chernobyl thyroid cancer, 2008
  5. Yama N, et al. A retrospective study on the transition of radiation dose rate and iodine distribution in patients with I-131-treated well-differentiated thyroid cancer to improve bed control shorten isolation periods, 201
  6. Braverman ER, et al. Managing terrorism or accidental nuclear errors, preparing for iodine-131 emergencies: a comprehensive review, 2014
  7. Yahyapour R, et al. Radiation-induced inflammation and autoimmune diseases, 2017
  8. Yoshida S, et al. Guidelines for iodine prophylaxis as a protective measure: information for physicians, 2014
  9. Pacini F, et al. Thyroid consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, 1999
  10. IAEA 1991. International Chernobyl Project: Technical Report: Assessment of Radiological Consequences and Evaluation of Protective Measures, 2006
  11. UNSCEAR. United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, United Nations, 1988
  12. Cardis E, et al. The Chernobyl accident — an epidemiological perspective, 2012