Magnesium Deficiency Causes
Modern day living contributes to magnesium deficiency in a variety of ways. Firstly, modern intensive agricultural methods have depleted our soils of many minerals and magnesium is one of the most depleted minerals.1 Plants take up their nutrients from the soils they are grown in, which means many crops that used to supply a healthy dose of magnesium no longer do.2 To make matters worse, nutrient content continuously declines after harvesting, and by the time most produce reaches your grocery store a notable loss of magnesium has already occurred.
Our magnesium depleted diets means we are not receiving enough magnesium for our bodies to function optimally. To compact the problem, factors such as stress, insomnia, certain medications, excessive exercise, and alcohol, caffeine and carbonated beverage consumption all deplete our low magnesium supplies even further.3 Finally, diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease, chronic diarrhea, celiac and ulcerative, further increase your risk for a magnesium deficiency.4
Why You Need Magnesium
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body. It is responsible for controlling hundreds of chemical reactions and every single cell in your body requires adequate amounts of magnesium in order to function optimally.5 Magnesium helps improve muscle and bone strength and a deficiency increases your risk for bone fractures and osteoporosis.6 Magnesium also helps to keep blood pressure low thereby reducing heart disease risk.7 In addition, magnesium supports a healthy immune system and plays a crucial role in your metabolism, assisting with the creation of energy.
This super mineral also has a calming effect on your nervous system, helping to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and fighting insomnia by promoting a good nights sleep. Magnesium may also help reduce irritability, headaches, ADHD and even depression.8 If all that weren’t enough, magnesium helps improve brain electrical activity, enhancing memory and learning capabilities. Finally, magnesium acts as a weight loss aid in two separate ways. Firstly, it helps to regulate insulin and blood sugar levels and secondly, it helps to metabolize the stress hormone cortisol. Blood sugar fluctuations and excess cortisol both contribute to belly fat, and healthy magnesium levels can help to fight both.9
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Signs or symptoms of a magnesium deficiency are frequently lacking or very subtle and more often than not the deficiency goes unnoticed. This is scary, because a magnesium deficiency effects every cell in your body and it is associated with a number of chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and osteoporosis.10 If you do receive any of the following signs, have your doctor test your magnesium levels immediately.
Early Signs: leg cramps, foot pain, tremors, muscle spasms or twitches; nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting. eye twitches, facial ticks, high blood pressure, dizziness, agitation, unexplained anxiety, headaches, migraines, depression, fatigue, weakness, poor memory, difficulty relaxing and insomnia.11
Advanced Deficiency Signs: tingling, numbness, seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, coronary spasms and personality changes.
How to Increase Your Magnesium Levels
Start by consuming more magnesium rich foods such as spinach (and other dark leafy greens), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, chickpeas, cocoa (and dark chocolate), bananas, artichokes, avocados, figs, black beans, yogurt, kefir, goat cheese and salmon. When possible, buy your produce from a local market to reduce post harvesting nutrient loss.
Your skin is an excellent absorber of magnesium and you can increase your magnesium levels using topical magnesium sprays, lotions and oils. Epsom salts are hydrates of magnesium, and soaking in an Epsom salt bath or a magnesium flake bath regularly will help supply your body with extra magnesium. Try taking the bath before bedtime, as the magnesium will produce an intense relaxation effect and help promote an excellent nights sleep. Topical magnesium therapy (or ‘transdermal magnesium’) will not only enhance sleep, it may also enhance mood, reduce anxiety, stress, and muscle aches, pains, cramping and spasms; promote soft, healthy skin and reduced outbreaks of eczema and psoriasis.12
Supplementation is another method for restoring healthy magnesium levels, and if you currently take a calcium supplement, it is highly recommended that you add magnesium to your supplement regime. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new supplement and be aware that magnesium is taken up by the same transporter as calcium and zinc, so you should take the supplements at least 6 hours apart from each other in order to ensure optimal absorption.13 Magnesium supplements are ideally taken before bedtime because similar to transdermal magnesium, they can promote a good nights sleep.