Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for our health. It plays a part in over 300 metabolic and biochemical processes in the body, and is most important for our heart and muscle contractions. Lack of magnesium in the body is a serious problem which can cause heart problems that can have a fatal outcome.
Besides the contraction of our muscles, magnesium is also important for protein synthesis, energy production, blood pressure, glucose levels, bone development and glutathione synthesis, as well as for the production of RNA and DNA. In general, the average adults should have 25 gr. of magnesium in their body, with 60% of this amount stored in the soft tissue and bones. The usual serum concentration is 0.75-0.95 mmol/L – if the number drops below 0.75, your body will enter a state called hypomagnesemia.
The common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include dizziness, weakness and fatigue, diarrhea, appetite loss, nausea and vomiting. If the lack of magnesium is severe, it may lead to low blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm, muscle cramps, seizures and even personality changes. Leaving the problem unaddressed can result in low calcium and serum potassium levels, which can have a significantly negative outcome on your health.
What’s causing magnesium deficiency?
The lack of magnesium in our bodies is mainly caused by the lack of the mineral in the soil. In the past, our soil had a variety of nutrients including magnesium, but the modern farming techniques are leaving it barren, which means that we need to up our intake of the mineral through dietary sources. Additionally, magnesium deficiency may be caused by aging, insulin resistance and diabetes, Celiac disease, Chron’s disease and alcohol abuse as well.
Another big factor for the global epidemic of magnesium deficiency is the standard western diet. We eat processed foods with no nutrients at all on a daily basis, and we rarely include vegetables and healthy foods in our meals. Even when we do eat fruits and veggies, most of them are sprayed with chemicals and pesticides which destroy the nutrients inside, essential making them empty calories.
As we already mentioned, magnesium deficiency is a serious problem which can lead to several ailments. Here are the health problems associated with lack of magnesium:
As we already mentioned, magnesium is in control of all our body muscles including the heart. Keeping your magnesium levels in check is vital for proper heart rhythm, and one study showed that low magnesium serum levels are related to increased risk of heart disease.
Magnesium regulates the amount of insulin production and blood glucose levels, which means that lack of it may lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. This is why it’s very important to keep your magnesium levels in your body in check in order to prevent further problems.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease which occurs due to low calcium and magnesium levels. Magnesium is important for proper bone development and vitamin D synthesis, and plays a big part in the proper health of our bones.
Lack of magnesium has been associated with headaches and migraines as both conditions are related to blood vessel contractions which are regulated by them mineral. People with painful migraines have been found to have seriously low magnesium serum levels in their blood, although further research on the matter is needed.
Besides these 4 health problems, magnesium can also cause hormonal imbalance, sleeping disorders, other nutrient deficiencies, anxiety, depression, artery calcification and pregnancy problems as well.
How to test for magnesium deficiency?
Due to the fact that most of the mineral is in the soft tissue and bones, and the fact that magnesium deficiency doesn’t really manifest through specific symptoms, testing for low magnesium levels can be a challenge. In general, doctors should measure your magnesium tolerance, the amount of magnesium in your stool, the concentration of the mineral in the saliva, urine and erythrocytes as well as the ionized magnesium in the plasma, serum and blood.
The best way to resolve magnesium deficiency is through dietary sources. There are plenty of options to pick from, but the best are leafy green veggies, nuts and seeds as well as whole grains. Of course, consuming processed foods is out of the question if you want to keep the levels of magnesium in your body intact.
Here are the best magnesium-rich foods:
- Baked potato;
- Black beans;
- Low-fat yogurt;
If you’re considering taking magnesium supplements, you should consult with your doctor first. There are different supplements based on different version of the mineral, and many of them can interfere with the action of some medications. Excessive magnesium supplementation can lead to diarrhea and stomach cramps, which is why you should consult a professional before taking supplements.