By now, thanks to the wealth of information on the Internet, many of us know that magnesium is one of the most deficient minerals. It is one of the most vital, calming and practical trace minerals in the world.
Magnesium is utilized in every reaction in the body. In fact, it is a cofactors in over 300 systems run in the body including protein synthesis, energy production, muscles for heart contraction and relaxation, nerve conduction, glucose control, and blood pressure management. The majority of human building blocks require magnesium as a cofactor in biochemical reactions. Chronic Magnesium deficiency leads to chronic disorders such as heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, cramps, restless leg syndrome, migraines, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Therefore, if we are not eating a balanced, self loving diet, are stressed, take a surplus of prescription medications, have imbalanced gut flora or dysbiosis leading to improper acid production, drink alcohol regularly or have malabsorption issues, then we are at risk for magnesium inadequacy or deficiency.
In fact, it is now estimated that 40-50% of the population has a newer genetic mutation called MTHFR. Those who suffer from this condition are quickly depleted of an important liver detoxification enzyme called glutathione (especially under stress). Considering that those with MTHFR deficiency cannot appropriately replenish glutathione and on top of that, magnesium (lacking by so many) is required to produce glutathione, you can imagine how the deficiency compounds illness for a major portion of the population. Magnesium inadequacy means an even more scarce amount of the powerful glutathione, that rids our bodies of liver toxins–for many, many people.
Just the other day I had a friend who also happens to be my patient, tell me that magnesium has helped her hair thickness, relaxation, stress levels, mental clarity as well as aid in regulating bowel movements. This patient comes in once a week for some quick IV magnesium and the occasional B vitamins pushes. Magnesium is also excellent (along with potassium and calcium) for calming heart palpitations.
Why don’t most people know they are magnesium deficient? Well let’s be honest…today’s education systems don’t do a very good job at explaining functional symptoms and how they might relate to missing nutrients and diet. Just look at the sick food that is fed to terminal patients in the hospital! Until recently, many of us did not connect a diet lacking in fruits/veggies and micro-nutrients to the creation of a myriad of chronic health disorders. Magnesium is definitely no exception.
Moreover, general medical labs underestimate magnesium stores. Only 1-2% of the total magnesium is able to measured with standard lab testing. The issue is that magnesium is not IN your blood. In fact, 99% of the magnesium in the body is in the cells; while only a mere 1% of your the body’s total magnesium is in the blood, making a blood test for magnesium inaccurate in all but WORST magnesium deficiencies. When your blood magnesium is low, the body will pull it from the cells and eventually deplete their stores.
Here are some common magnesium inadequacy signs that present themselves prior to full blown deficiency:
- strong foot odor
- being ticklish
- muscle cramping, twitching or charlie horses
- social phobia/anxiety and agoraphobia
- insomnia or restless leg syndrome
- chocolate cravings-this symptom can also be a sign of blood sugar dysregulation (remember magnesium aids in blood sugar control too) and the need to support the adrenal glands.
- feeling anxious, flighty and disconnected
So you’re probably asking, “Dr Jess, if labs are worthless and I’m suspicious that I have low magnesium, what can I do?” I’ll give you two ways to test your stores.
1. Old school way-get your paws on a blood pressure cuff and place it around the largest part of your calf. Inflate it slowly until you experience cramping or twitching. This is your threshold. If this occurs at less than 200mm Hg, then yes-you are deficient in magnesium! (And possibly B vitamins and calcium too).
2. New school way-ask your doctor or healthcare provider for the RBC magnesium lab test. As the majority of magnesium is stored within the cells, this is really the only way to go to accurately test for this trace mineral. Gold standard test for magnesium inadequacy.
Whew! Now that we’ve covered that–what are some of the best ways to get your daily power punch of those awesome mineral?
KEEP SCROLLIN MY FRIENDS…
The best foods:
Leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish (be mindful that the fish has not bee caught in the Pacific where radiation levels from Fukishima are quite high), beans, whole grains, avocados, grass fed organic yogurt, bananas, dried fruit, dark chocolate, and more. However up to 1/3 of Americans don’t get enough from diet alone.
The best supplements:
Chelated magnesium is a much more absorbable form and can be found in our collection and purchased after an express consultation with me. Another great product on our site includes Kiss My Bath’s creams that are infused with house made magnesium oil! Talk about smelling great while calming your nervous system and relaxing cramps. I genuinely love these products!
Epsom salt baths are another excellent absorbable form of magnesium. Just make sure you soak for at least 40 minutes.
In summary, I hope this helps you understand how necessary and vital our magnesium stores are! Show your body some love. It is always trying to heal you, despite our misguided food and environmental toxin exposure! Magnesium is one mineral that you can’t ignore if you want to rock a healthy body and mental state.
Dr. Jessica Peatross, MD, GPI
Board Certified in Internal Medicine
Gerson Practitioner Intern