If you were to take the number of conditions that magnesium deficiency is partially responsible for, and list them in 10pt typeface end to end without any spaces, the length of the sentence would be about 2.2 meters. Yes, occasionally, I too get bored. Magnesium is a co-factor for more than 300 different enzyme reactions in our body. It has an anti-spasmodic effect on both skeletal and smooth muscle, it dilates blood vessels to lower blood pressure, stabilizes cardiac rhythms, inhibits blood clot formation and plays a role in both carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Yet, in our highly refined and processed diet, magnesium tends to be very deficient. As a consequence, so do we. Magnesium is excreted in our stool and sweat, but is primarily regulated by our kidneys via urine. So why is magnesium so magnificent in addition to all of the above? Perhaps symptoms of its deficiency will tell you why. When we don’t have enough magnesium, it can manifest as anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, muscle cramps and twitching, bruxism (also called jaw clenching), irritability, chest tightness, hyperventilation, headaches (both migraine and cluster type), poor concentration, memory loss, cardiac arrhythmias and constipation, to name a few.
What foods are rich in magnesium? Good food sources include nuts and seeds, un-milled grains, legumes, green leafy veggies, fish, meat and dairy products. However, these foods generally won’t be enough to optimize our levels as modern farming techniques cause a lowering of magnesium levels in the soils. So which supplements should you take and when? Although there are many to choose from, both magnesium citrate and aspartate tend to work just fine. Generally speaking, 100-750mg/day for adults is well tolerated. If taken 1 hour before bed, not only will you have a good sleep (due to the muscle relaxant properties), but a good bowel movement in the morning will also usually await you.
A word of caution also wouldn’t be amiss. If you suffer from end-stage kidney disease, myasthenia gravis, cerebral hemorrhage, hyperparathyroidism & hypermagnesemic periodic paralysis you should not take magnesium. Also in cases where you have a urinary tract infection with elevated urinary phosphates, you’ll have to wait until it is healed until you supplement.
Stay tuned next week, when we’ll talk about the benefits of Neti-Pot.
Hall R. H., The Agri-business view of soil and life, Journal of Holistic Medicine., 1981; 3:157-166