Magnesium, why do we need it?


In my post about muscle cramp I mentioned magnesium and a few people have asked me to tell them more about it


It’s an mineral
Found naturally in many foods, and added to other food products,
Its available as a dietary supplement
Magnesium is also in some medicines
Why do we need it

It helps with many body functions including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation
Its also required for energy production
Magnesium also plays a role in muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm because it helps transport calcium and potassium around the body

Magnesium Deficiency

Symptomatic magnesium deficiency due to low dietary intake in otherwise-healthy people is uncommon because the kidneys limit urinary excretion of this mineral. However, habitually low intakes or excessive losses of magnesium due to certain health conditions, chronic alcoholism, and/or the use of certain medications can lead to magnesium deficiency, which is increasingly common but not routinely checked.

10 signs of a possible magnesium deficiency

Painful muscle cramps or spasms
Chronic pain
Calcium deficiency
Facial tics or eye twitches
Times of hyperactivity
Difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep
Low magnesium is also associated with personality changes and sometimes depression.
Clinical signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency

Include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. As the deficiency worsens, numbness, tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms can occur. This is rare in otherwise healthy people because the kidneys limit urinary excretion of this mineral.

Who is at risk of clinical magnesium deficiency?

People with gastrointestinal illness such as Crohn’s disease or those who have has gastric bypass or resection surgery are high risk due to malabsorption of all nutrients but are usually regularly checked and well monitored.

Are you at risk for low magnesium deficiency? These will deplete your levels

Carbonated drinks
Most contain phosphates which bind with magnesium in the digestive tract, making it unavailable to the body. So even if you are eating a balanced diet, simply by communing a fizzy drink especially dark coloured ones with your meals will flush magnesium out of your system

Refined sugar
Refined sugar as found in pastries, cakes, puddings and sweets causes the body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys.

Recovering from a recent major illness, surgery or living with high stress
Both physical and emotional stress can be a cause of magnesium deficiency. Stress can be a cause of magnesium deficiency, and a lack of magnesium tends to magnify the stress reaction, worsening the problem.

Caffeinated drinks
Magnesium levels are controlled in the body in large part by the kidneys, which filter and excrete excess magnesium and other minerals. caffeine causes the kidneys to release extra magnesium regardless of body status. If you drink lots of caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and the afore mentioned carbonated drinks regularly, your risk for magnesium deficiency is increased.

Certain drugs have been shown to reduce magnesium levels in the body by increasing magnesium loss through excretion by the kidneys. Diuretics, some heart and asthma medication, birth control pills and HRT are of particular concern. Magnesium is a primary ingredient in some over the counter digestive and laxatives remedies, which continual use can cause deficiency.

*Please do not stop taking any prescribed medication without the advice of your prescribing doctor but it might be a goo idea to speak with your doctor if you take these medications and have the sign and symptoms of deficiencies mentioned earlier.

The effect of alcohol on magnesium levels is similar to the effect of diuretics: it lowers magnesium by increasing the excretion by the kidneys. Increased alcohol intake also contributes to decreased efficiency of the digestive system, as well as Vitamin D deficiency, both of which can contribute to low magnesium levels.

Do you take calcium supplements without magnesium or calcium supplements with magnesium? Studies have shown that when magnesium intake is low, calcium supplementation may reduce magnesium absorption and retention. Confused? Speak with pharmacist or nutritionist when buying supplements. Note; many good health food shops have fully trained nutritionists who will give free advice.

How to boost your Magnesium levels

Diet, food sources of Magnesium
Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach
Legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are good sources
Magnesium is also added to some breakfast cereals and other fortified foods.
Tap, mineral, and bottled waters can also be sources of magnesium, but the amount of magnesium in water varies by source and brand
Dietary supplements

Are available in a variety of forms, including magnesium oxide, citrate, and chloride. Speak with your GP or Pharmacist if you take regular medication before starting oral supplements.

Other ways to supplement

Magnesium is available as topical supplements, ie via the skin (transdermal magnesium), as magnesium oil or bath salts, epsom salt is a good source. Those who use topical applications have reported

Reduced muscle aches, pains, cramping and spasms
Better relaxation and stress management
Increased energy levels and improved moods
Healthy skin and reduced outbreaks of eczema and psoriasis
Increased athletic performance

Finally, Magnesium taken at night before going to bed has a calming effect on the central nervous system which can support a deeper more refreshing sleep patterns.

Please note: This is for guidance only, it should not be regarded as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment given in person by an appropriately trained health professional.


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