Magnesium: An invisible deficiency that could harm your health

Magnesium is a mineral salt used by all organs of your body, especially your heart, muscles, and kidneys. (1) If you suffer from unexplained fatigue or weakness, cardiac arrhythmias or even muscle spasms and tics ocular, a low level of magnesium may be the cause.

If you have recently had a blood test, you might assume that it shows if there is a magnesium deficiency. But alone, 1% of the magnesium in your body gets to your blood, making it almost useless a simple magnesium sample from a serum magnesium blood test.

Most of the magnesium is stored in bones and organs, where it is used for many biological functions. However, it is quite possible to be deficient without knowing it, so magnesium deficiency has been dubbed the “invisible deficiency”.

According to some estimates, up to 80% of Westerners  do not receive enough magnesium and may be deficient. Other research shows that only 25% of Western adults receive the recommended amount of 310 to 320 milligrams (mg) for women and 400 to 420 mg for men. (2)

What is even more worrying is that, even when consuming these amounts of magnesium, it is “just enough to avoid plain and simple deficiency,” according to Dr. Carolyn Dean, Doctor of Medicine and Naturopathy.

Magnesium deficiency can lead to 22 medical problems

Magnesium is often considered a mineral salt primarily for your heart and bones, but it is a very reductive consideration. Researchers have now detected 3,751 magnesium binding sites on human proteins, indicating that its role in human health and disease has undoubtedly been largely underestimated. (3)

Magnesium is also present in over 300 different enzymes in your body and plays a role in the detoxification processes of the body, making it essential to prevent damage caused by environmental chemicals, heavy metals and other toxins . In addition, magnesium is required for:

  • Activate muscles and nerves
  • Create energy in your body by activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
  • Help digest proteins, carbohydrates and fats
  • Serve as a basic building block for the synthesis of DNA and RNA
  • Act as a precursor of neurotransmitters such as serotonin

Dr. Dean has been studying and writing about magnesium for over 15 years. The most recent edition of his book The Magnesium Miracle is out in 2014, and you can find out about 22 medical conditions that a magnesium deficiency triggers or causes, all of which have been proven scientifically. They include (4):

Anxiety and panic attacks Asthma Blood clots
Diseases of the intestine Cystitis Depression
detoxification Diabetes Tired
Cardiac disease Hypertension hypoglycemia
Insomnia Kidney disease Liver disease
Migraine Muscle or skeletal disease (fibromyalgia, cramps, chronic back pain) Nervous System Problems
Obstetric and gynecological problems (PMS, infertility, and preeclampsia) osteoporosis Raynaud’s disease
Tooth decay

The first signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, headache, nausea, fatigue and weakness. A longer-term magnesium deficiency may result in more severe symptoms such as:

Numbness and tingling Muscle contractions and cramps convulsions
Changes in personality Cardiac arrythmia Coronary Spasms

Role of magnesium in diabetes, cancer and more

Most people do not think of magnesium when they look for ways to prevent chronic diseases, but it plays a vital role. For example, there have been several important studies on the role of magnesium in the effective functioning of your metabolism, including insulin sensitivity, glucose regulation and protection against type 2 diabetes.

A higher intake of magnesium reduces the risk of disturbing the metabolism of glucose and insulin and slows the progression from a pre-diabetic state to a diabetic state in middle-aged Westerners. (5) Researchers said ”  Magnesium intake can be especially beneficial to offset the risk of developing diabetes if your risk is high.”

Multiple studies have also shown that a higher magnesium intake is associated with greater bone mineral density in both men and women (6), and research from Norway has even found an association between magnesium content in drinking water and a lower risk of hip fractures. (7)

Magnesium can even help reduce your risk of cancer, and a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that higher intakes of dietary magnesium were associated with a lower risk of colorectal tumors. (8)

The results of the meta-analysis indicate that for each 100 mg increase in magnesium, the risk of colorectal tumor decreased by 13% and the risk of colorectal cancer was reduced by 12%. The researchers found that the anti-cancer effects of magnesium may be related to its ability to reduce insulin resistance, which itself can positively influence the development of tumors.

Surprising Factors That Influence Your Magnesium Levels

Algae and green leafy vegetables such as spinach and Swiss chard can be excellent sources of magnesium, as well as beans, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds. The avocados also contain magnesium. An excellent option is to make you vegetable juices to ensure you consume enough.

However, most foods grown today are deficient in magnesium and other minerals, so it is not enough to consume magnesium-rich foods to get enough magnesium (although this is also important). According to Dr. Dean:

“Magnesium comes from the soil much more than calcium … One hundred years ago, we had about 500 mg of magnesium in a normal diet. Now we are lucky if we have 200 mg. “

Herbicides such as glyphosate also act as chelators, effectively blocking the absorption and use of minerals in many foods grown today. It follows that it can be very difficult to find foods actually rich in magnesium. Cooking and processing of foods further reduces their magnesium content.

Some foods however can actually influence the absorption of magnesium by the body. If you drink excess alcohol, for example, this can interfere with the absorption of vitamin D by your body, which in turn is useful for the absorption of magnesium. If you eat a lot of sugar, it can also cause your body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys, ”  which results in a loss pure and simple,” according to Dr. Danine Fruge, medical director associated with the Longevity Center Pritikin in Florida. (9)

The following factors are also associated with a reduction in the level of magnesium: (10)

  • Excessive consumption of sodas or caffeine
  • Menopause
  • Advanced age (older people are more likely to be magnesium deficient because absorption decreases with age and older people are more likely to take medications that interfere with its absorption)
  • Some medications, including diuretics, certain antibiotics (such as gentamicin and tobramycin), corticosteroids (prednisole or Deltasone), antacids and insulin
  • An unhealthy digestive system, which harms your body’s ability to absorb magnesium (Crohn’s disease, permeable colon, etc.).

Calcium, vitamin K and vitamin D must be balanced with magnesium

One might think that the lack of magnesium can be remedied simply by taking a supplement of magnesium, but it is not quite so simple. When taking magnesium, it is necessary to consider also calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 because all these elements act in synergy. Excessive amounts of calcium without the magnesium counterpart can lead to a heart attack and sudden death, for example. Research on the Palaeolithic diet has shown that the ratio of calcium to magnesium in the diet should be 1: 1. (11) Westerners generally tend to have a higher proportion of calcium than magnesium in their diet, on average, about 3.5 to 1.

If you have too much calcium and not enough magnesium, your muscles will tend to spasms, and this has consequences for your heart in particular. ”  What happens is that the muscular and nervous function of which magnesium is responsible is affected. If you do not have enough magnesium, your muscles will have spasms. Calcium causes muscle contractions. If these minerals are in balance, the muscles can function properly. They can relax, contract and get into action, “ says Dr. Dean.

When balancing calcium and magnesium, keep in mind that vitamins K2 and D must be taken into consideration. These four nutrients perform together a complex dance, each supporting the other. The lack of balance between these nutrients is one of the reasons why calcium supplements have become associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, and explains why some people suffer from the toxicity of the vitamin D . This is partly due to the fact that vitamin K2 keeps calcium where it should be. If you miss vitamin K2, adding calcium can cause more problems than it solves, by accumulating calcium where it becomes toxic, as in soft tissue.

Similarly, if you opt for oral vitamin D, you also need to consume vitamin K2 in your foods or supplements and more magnesium. Taking mega doses of vitamin D supplements without adequate amounts of vitamin K2 and magnesium can result in vitamin D toxicity and magnesium deficiency symptoms, which include improper calcification that could damage your heart.

Tips to Increase Your Magnesium Levels

One way to really increase your magnesium, as well as many other important herbal nutrients, is to prepare green vegetable juices. I usually drink half a liter to a liter of green vegetable juice every day, which is one of my main sources of magnesium. Organic foods can have more magnesium if grown on nutrient-rich soils, but it is very difficult to know. If you opt for a magnesium supplement, you should know that there is a wide variety of magnesium supplements on the market, and that magnesium must be bound to another substance. There is simply no supplement to 100% magnesium.

The substance used in any given compound may affect the absorption and bioavailability of magnesium, and may provide slightly different health benefits. The following table summarizes some of the differences in different forms. Magnesium threonate and citrate are some of the best sources, as they appear to penetrate cell membranes, including mitochondria, resulting in higher energy levels. In addition, they also penetrate your blood-brain barrier and seem to do wonders to treat and prevent dementia and improve memory. If you take a supplement, you can use the “bowel test” to determine if you are taking too much magnesium. Dr. Dean explains: (12)

The best way to know if you have enough magnesium is the ‘bowel test’. When you have too much magnesium, your stools become soft. In fact, this can be a blessing for people suffering from constipation … which is one of the many manifestations of lack of magnesium. “

In addition to taking a supplement, another way to improve your magnesium levels is to take regular baths or foot baths from Epsom salts. Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate that can be absorbed into your body through the skin. The magnesium oil can also be used for topical application (through the skin) and its absorption. Whatever supplement you choose, be sure to avoid all those that contain magnesium stearate , a common but potentially dangerous additive.

Magnesium Glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that tends to provide the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability. It is generally considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency. Magnesium oxide is a non-chelated type of magnesium, bound to an organic acid, or fatty acid. It contains 60% magnesium and stool softening properties.
Magnesium chloride / magnesium lactate contains only 12% magnesium, but it has better absorption than others, such as magnesium oxide, which contains 5 times more. Magnesium sulphate / magnesium hydroxide(magnesia milk) are generally used as laxatives. Be aware that it is easy to overdose, so be careful to take only the recommended dose.
Calcium carbonate has antacid properties, contains 45% magnesium Magnesium taurate  contains a combination of magnesium and taurine, an amino acid. Together they tend to bring a calming effect on the body and mind.
Magnesium Citrate is magnesium with citric acid which like most magnesium supplements has laxative properties but is well absorbed and has good value for money. Magnesium threonate is an emerging type of recent magnesium supplement that seems promising, mainly due to its superior ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane and may be the best magnesium supplement on the market.

(1)  University of Maryland Medical Center, Magnesium
(2)  CNN December 31, 2014
(3) December 5, 2012
(4) The Magnesium Miracle
(5)  ADA Diabetes Care October 2, 2013
( 6)  Curr Osteoporos Rep. 2009 Dec; 7 (4): 111-7. 
(7)  Bone November 2013; 57 (1): 84-91
(8)  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition September 2012
(9) CNN December 31, 2014
(10) University of Maryland Medical Center, Magnesium
(11) M Eades, Eades A, The Protein Power Lifeplan , Warner Books, New York, 1999
(12) The Magnesium Miracle

Source: Dr. Mercola