Magic magnesium

/ February 8, 2014/ Holistic Nutrition/ 0 comments

Magnesium is an essential mineral and research has shown that it is indispensable to life. Magnesium is involved in hundreds of activities of the human body. Here are six reasons why magnesium is essential to our diet so that you can make your own conclusion:

  • Magnesium is a cofactor that assist enzymes in catalyzing most chemical reactions in the body such as temperature regulation.
  • Magnesium is required for the production and transport of energy (ATP).
  • Magnesium is necessary for protein synthesis.
  • Magnesium helps to transmit nerve signals.
  • Magnesium causes relaxation of the muscles.
  • Magnesium is crucial in the removal of toxic substances and heavy metals (such as aluminum and lead) from the body

Magnesium is MIA in our diet!

Although magnesium can be found in vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, most of plants are grown on magnesium-depleted soil on factory farms. Also, processed food sorely lacks of magnesium because it is lost during their processing. On top of that, its absorption is impaired by low stomach acid and many drugs such as diuretics, cortisone, and birth control pills cause its deficiency!

Magnesium deficiency

Lets look at some effects of the Magnesium deficiency.

  • Affects serotonin levels. Low levels of serotonin can cause migraine headaches and depression
  • Slows down the bowels causing constipation
  • Increases bladder spasms
  • Causes episodes of low blood sugar as magnesium is needed to keep insulin under control. Insulin cannot transfer glucose into the cells without magnesium
  • Blood vessels might go into spasms and cholesterol might rise. Both actions lead to high blood pressure
  • Disrupts production of melatonin which regulates sleep
  • Causes imbalance of phosphorus and calcium in saliva which damages teeth
  • Shows as a common symptom in people with heart disease
  • Contributes to atherosclerotic failure

Furthermore, magnesium deficiency can be increased by:

  • Overworked adrenals for the production of stress hormones
  • Intake of calcium with vitamin D supplements without magnesium which can lead to osteoporosis

Magnesium and exercise

Magnesium stores in the body are depleted during brief or extended exercise. Here are reasons why getting enough magnesium is essential when you exercise:

  • Help to relax muscles
  • Eliminate spasms because it prevents calcium from causing excessive muscle contraction
  • Reduces lactic acid by creating energy efficiently during exercise
  • Reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death in athletes

Why magnesium matters to the heart

  • Magnesium is important in prevention of blood clots and thinning  the blood (better than aspirin with no side effects)
  • Magnesium prevents muscle spams in the heart and blood vessels that can lead to heart attack
  • Magnesium prevents muscle spams in the peripheral blood vessels that can lead to high blood pressure
  • Magnesium maintains elasticity of artery walls, dilates blood vessels, and prevents calcium deposits
  • The heart requires magnesium to relax as any muscle would! Magnesium is used in hospitals to treat acute myocardial infarction and cardiac arrhythmia.

A magnesium diet

Can we get enough magnesium from food sources? we can! a couple of easy ways to get you to the magnesium recommended dietary allowances (RDA):Making a green smoothie

  • 1/4 cup of cashew nuts and 2 cups of boiled spinach
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, and 1/4 cup of almonds

To enrich your diet with magnesium, here are some general guidelines:

  • Increase your intake of green vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains
  • Increase your intake of magnesium-rich foods such as wheat germ, kelp, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds
  • Use Himalayan salt.
  • Reduce the intake of saturated fats
  • Increase the intake of monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids

Sound familiar? it is not a coincidence that these guidelines match some of the ones posted in New year resolutions…

If you exercise regularly or you find difficult to get enough magnesium from your diet, you can resort to supplements. Most people benefit with a supplementation of 150-200 mg twice a day. For athletes, Dr. Seelig (expert on Mg) recommends 6-10 mg per kg of body weight a day.

The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate, or aspartate, although magnesium bound to Kreb cycle chelates (malate, succinate, fumarate) are also good. My preferred one is magnesium glycinate as it can be taken with food. The other forms are best to take away from food.

If you have absorption problems, you can try a bath with epson salts or better yet with flakes of magnesium chloride. A 20 min bath with 2 cups of epson salts will cover your daily intake to help you relax and heal sore muscles.

If you suspect that you have a severe magnesium deficiency, consult your practitioner of choice.

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