Feeling tired, anxious, suffering from headaches? It might simply be a result of everyday life and the stress that comes with it, or you might be deficient in magnesium. This vital mineral is responsible for hundreds of chemical reactions in your body, yet it’s also the most commonly deficient mineral – crazy, huh? “It plays an essential role in many bodily functions, including energy production, neurotransmitter formation, muscle relaxation, blood sugar regulation, and hormone metabolism,” says Board Certified Nutritionist, Dr Joseph Debé . “However, depression, PMS, cramps, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are just a few of the symptoms of deficiency
The truth behind the deficit
Magnesium gets to work inside our cells, but it’s thought a staggering 70% of people don’t get enough. How so? I hear you ask! “Well, there are a number of factors that can cause deficiency,” explains Dr Debé, “including a lack of uptake, impaired absorption and increased rate of expulsion from the body caused by medications such as antacids!” I know, I was shocked too! “Other meds including diuretics, antibiotics and the birth control pill all mess with our magnesium levels. As well as this, stress, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, salt, and phosphoric acid found in soda (so basically all the naughty things we love) also deplete magnesium. Deficiencies in vitamins D, E, B6, and the amino acid taurine also have a negative impact on our magnesium status.
“On the other hand, excess supplementation of calcium, zinc, manganese, iron and riboflavin may reduce magnesium absorption,” explains Dr Debé. “Chronic diarrhea and excessive sweating cause loss of magnesium from your body. And if your body is too acidic, which commonly results from modern diets, magnesium can be lost from the cells, too.”
So, in short, we’re unwittingly depleting our magnesium levels in many ways. But let’s not dwell on the negatives for too long, as there are many ways to keep our levels topped up and our bodies working in harmony, while still being able to enjoy a cheeky glass of vino on a Friday night. Hurrah!
Top up your Mg
One way to get your fill is with Chlorophyll! Chlorophyll is the substance that gives plants their luscious green hues and, lucky for us, it contains magnesium aplenty, so you can be assured that eating your greens with your evening meal will certainly help your levels. “Some of the best dietary sources of magnesium include Swiss chard, beet greens, beans, pumpkin seeds, almonds and other nuts,” says Dr Debé. So, tucking into these beauties is a sure fire way to see your levels soar. Why not try substituting some of those naughty snacks for a packet of Kale crisps?
As well as a few dietary tweaks, you can also consider a supplement. “Some supplemental forms of magnesium are better than others,” says Dr Debé. “The important thing with magnesium supplements is not so much the format, but what the magnesium is bound with. For example, magnesium carbonate – a powder – or magnesium chloride – a liquid – are not as well absorbed as some other tablet or capsule forms. Magnesium glycinate is the most easily absorbed form. Magnesium malate, threonate, citrate, aspartate and orotate are other good forms, so look out for these in your health food store.
“Magnesium can also be applied topically as a cream or gel to help with muscle cramps and spasms. And don’t forget, relaxing in an Epsom Salt bath provides your whole body with magnesium and sulfate, both of which aid in detoxification of chemicals and excess hormones.”
We don’t often think of magnesium as “up there” with the likes of vitamins C and D or even iron for importance, but it turns out its kinda crucial to our health and happiness. So, the next time you’re feeling a little under the weather, try looking at your Mg levels and see if you feel a little brighter. It’s worth noting, if you’re really concerned, your physician can usually assess whether you’re deficient with a simple blood test.
Our sincere thanks to Dr. Debé for his amazing advice; if you have any questions on what Dr. Debé covered in his interview, please post in the comments section below.
Dr. Joseph A. Debé graduated from the Southern California University of Health Sciences in 1986. He is a Chiropractor with Board Certification in Nutrition (Diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition). He is a licensed Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist, a Certified Gluten Practitioner, as well as a Certified Chiropractic Sports Practitioner. More awesome health and wellness articles can found in his blog NUTRITIOUS BYTES.