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.