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Is Magnesium Your Missing Ingredient To Great Health?

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 07 September 2021
Hits: 329

As much as I love to exercise, I know that if I don't eat well my body will not allow me to do the tough things I love to do. Getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals from our food is essential and is one thing that many people, in particular the gym junkie ignores to their own demise. If you are like me and sweat a lot then you really can deplete your body very quickly leaving several important bodily functions to be compromised. Replenishing the body with the necessary vitamins and minerals is essential if you want to remain in great health. One mineral that is easily depleted yet extremely important to our health is MAGNESIUM. In this article, we will look at why it is so vital to your health, what happens if you are deficient, why older adults are more vulnerable to deficiency, and lastly what foods to eat to meet your body’s requirements.

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, and researchers have detected more than 3,750 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins. Every single cell in the human body demands adequate magnesium to function, or it will perish. Strong bones and teeth, balanced hormones, a healthy nervous and cardiovascular system, digestive health, and much more depend upon magnesium to operate at optimal levels. Most magnesium contained in the body is found in the skeleton and teeth—at least 60 to 65 percent of the total. Nearly the entire remaining amount resides in muscle tissues and cells, while only one percent is contained in our blood.

Magnesium is so important to so many vital body functions, and its deficiency is integrally involved in so many diseases, and many people rate magnesium as a wonder mineral for its ability to resolve or improve numerous disorders. The list of problems related to magnesium deficiency is quite long and includes many diseases that affect people today.

What Happens If You Deficient?

The old saying you are what you eat is so true. One big reason for magnesium deficiency is eating a processed food diet that is lacking in minerals and vitamins. If you rarely eat leafy greens and other magnesium-rich whole foods, you can safely assume you are not getting enough magnesium from your diet.

Magnesium is easily lost through stress, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption, and prescription drug use, and tend to decline in the presence of elevated insulin levels. These are all factors that affect a large majority of people in the Western world, so it's not so surprising then that anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of people today are thought to be deficient in magnesium.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many commonly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs to treat various conditions like hypertension can cause the body to lose magnesium via your urine. Even birth control pills and some other antibiotics can inhibit magnesium absorption. With the loss of magnesium combined with a poor diet of processed foods magnesium deficiency becomes a real problem.

Unfortunately, there's no easily available commercial lab test that will give you a truly accurate reading of the magnesium status in your tissues. A very small amount of magnesium in your body is distributed in your blood, making a simple sample of magnesium from a serum magnesium blood test highly inaccurate. Some naturopaths and other health practitioners do have ways of testing this which you can investigate if you suspect you are deficient. This leaves you with looking for signs and symptoms of deficiency. Early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, headache, nausea, fatigue, and weakness.

There are three results of magnesium deficiency that I am most concerned with and they are.

  1. Bone health
  2. Type 2 diabetes
  3. Heart health

Bone health

Most people believe calcium is the most important mineral for optimal bone health, but what many do not realize is that magnesium is of equal importance for healthy bone formation. Both calcium and magnesium must both be present in balanced amounts for either one to function normally in the body. This is to ensure calcium is kept in a solution form within the body, preventing it from settling within soft tissues. It is magnesium that keeps calcium soluble and without sufficient levels of this mineral serious health issues will result.

In the book Minerals: the Essential Link to Health” by William Quesnell he says, “When you load up your system with excess calcium, you shut down magnesium’s ability to activate thyrocalcitonin, a hormone that under normal circumstances would send calcium to your bones. Instead of providing benefits to the body, the displaced calcium actually becomes toxic, causing trouble in soft tissues.”

Magnesium also helps to regulate vitamin D levels, which is another vital part of immune and bone health with people of all ages.

Type 2 Diabetes

You may have learned that diabetes is a function of having too much sugar in your blood and that is caused by eating too much sugar or drinking soft drinks. While sugar is definitely a huge problem, it's the function of insulin resistance at your cell level that is the trouble, and there are many foods that can influence how this important hormone functions. Research shows magnesium plays an important role in glucose control and insulin metabolism. A 2015 review in the World Journal of Diabetes reports that most, but not all, people with type 2 diabetes have low magnesium and that addressing this deficiency can significantly help with their diabetes management. A magnesium deficiency may worsen insulin resistance, which is a condition that often develops before type 2 diabetes often referred to as metabolic syndrome.

Heart Health

Sometimes we forget to appreciate how important our heart is. It runs 24-7, 365 days a year and as a result it requires fuel in the form of nutrition and exercise as well as maintenance in the form of rest and recovery. Given the heart's never-ending workload, it can easily be brought down by a poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and illness caused by neglect to other parts of our body. Once again magnesium is a crucial mineral needed to maintain the health of the heart.

A 2018 review reports that magnesium deficiency can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular problems. This is partly due to its roles on a cellular level as magnesium deficiency is common in people with congestive heart failure. Doctors sometimes use magnesium during treatment for congestive heart failure to reduce the risk of abnormal heart rhythm.

You can read more about heart health in the article below.

Why Older Adults Are More Vulnerable to Deficiency

The list of problems we just discussed are all common health problems seen with older adults and deficiency can be a serious health problem. When you consider the following factors with older adults you begin to see how easily they become magnesium deficient that can lead to serious health problems.

  1. Eat smaller amounts of food
  2. Are on medications that have side effects
  3. Their requirements of magnesium are in fact much higher than younger people
  4. They lack bone density and muscle mass

In our detailed article – Why you need to adjust your nutritional needs as you age I show how easily older adults become nutrient deficient and the levels of certain vitamins increases with age. One of the most serious implications is the risk of falls and development of osteoporosis. Research has linked adequate magnesium intake with higher bone density, improved bone crystal formation, and a lower risk of osteoporosis in females after menopause.

The risk of low calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin D levels expose the older adult to fractures and weakening of bones leading to osteoporosis. A hip fracture can be a life threatening injury to an older adult and while we know that strength training can help to maintain good bone strength, the exercise program has little chance of succeeding if you do not have enough calcium and magnesium in your diet.

What Are The Best Sources Of Magnesium?

There are tons of magnesium supplements available to purchase from health food shops and supermarkets but it is always best to obtain any vitamin or mineral through your food.

This is because nutrients work better when people combine them with other nutrients as vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients work synergistically. This term means that taking them together when we eat a meal with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals brings more health benefits than taking them separately. Supplementation with an individual vitamin in a synthetic capsule runs the risk of throwing it out of balance with its synergistic partners.

See the article – Do you need supplements to be healthy for more detail on this.

It is better to focus on a healthful, balanced diet to meet daily requirements for magnesium and to use supplements as a backup, under the guidance of a qualified medical physician. Here is a list of foods that have high levels of magnesium.

Another excellent source of minerals, including magnesium, is to drink BONE BROTH. As it is already in liquid form it is easily digested and utilized by the body. I drink bone broth 3-4 times per week and feel great. If you are a fussy eater and struggle to find your daily requirements from food this may be an easy way to obtain essential vitamins.

Check out the article on immune health for more detail about bone broth.

The amount you may need can vary from person to person as we are all unique in our requirements, but the chart below will give you a guide as to what you need. As you can see the requirements increase as we age which falls in line with what we discussed earlier with older adults.

What about Magnesium Supplements?

Many people argue that our food sources today are not as good as they were due to excessive farming and soil depletion leaving many of the magnesium rich foods compromised in nutritional value. This is where supplementation is seen as essential for meeting our daily needs. There is a huge array of magnesium supplements available to purchase from most health food stores and supermarkets but I would advise to speak to a qualified doctor or dietician before adding a supplement to your diet.

Do You Need More Help?

For more help with nutritional and exercise needs discussed in this article I suggest to grab a copy of the reports shown below. I created these late in 2020 due to the overwhelming number of people I was talking to with problems relating to immune health and heart health. Click the image of the report you require to get your instant copy.

  

Summary

I am sure you would agree there is more to magnesium than you previously thought. Without doubt there is a lot of people who are magnesium deficient from poor food choices, lack of variety in the food and oblivious to the symptoms this creates. When you consider how important the health of immune system is right now at this point in time with the Covid-19 pandemic taking a hold of the world, it makes perfect sense that we explore every possible option of providing your body with the best tools available. While no single nutrient is better than others in relation to our health, adding extra magnesium to your diet could be the missing link you have been looking for.

For more ideas and information on specific topics I may not have covered in detail be sure to check out our INDEX PAGE on the website that has over 300 of our best articles. These are all sorted into categories for quick reference so you can find what you are after more easily.

If you do need specific help with your exercise program please feel free to reach out to me for help and we can set you up with your individualised program.

About The Author

Nick Jack is owner of No Regrets Personal Training and has over 15 years’ experience as a qualified Personal Trainer, Level 2 Rehabilitation trainer, CHEK practitioner, and Level 2 Sports conditioning Coach. Based in Melbourne Australia he specialises in providing solutions to injury and health problems for people of all ages using the latest methods of assessing movement and corrective exercise.

References:

  • Weston A Price Foundation
  • Medical News Today
  • Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute 
  • Movement - By Gray Cook
  • How To Eat, Move & Be Healthy by Paul Chek
  • Precision Nutrition 
  • Nutrition & Physical Degeneration - By Weston A Price
  • Big Fat Lies - By David Gillespie