Magnesium: Your Body’s Most Essential Mineral

Years ago, when I started in practice, I came across an audiotape called, “Dead Doctors Don’t Lie”. Dr. Joel Wallach, who had been a veterinarian for many years, had created the tape. He had read hundreds of studies on how different vitamins and minerals affect animals during the 1960s and 1970s, primarily because veterinarian medicine is based on animal studies for nutrition as well as drugs that are tested on animals. In fact, human nutrition is based on a lot of this research, which sets a foundation for how nutrients may also work in humans.

The Dead Doctors Don’t Lie tape changed my whole approach to disease because I realized if I could find what deficiency a patient had, then I could restore health. All diseases and conditions are deficiency diseases, according to Dr. Wallach. I began hunting for deficiencies in my patients – and sure enough, just like Dr. Wallach emphasized, they were there easy to spot when I knew what to look for.

But there was a problem that I quickly found. There were dozens of nutrients that we had to get in our diet. Here’s a short list:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin K
  • the B complex vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folic acid, biotin, PABA)
  • inositol
  • choline
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus

  • zinc
  • copper
  • iodine
  • manganese
  • chromium
  • vanadium
  • selenium
  • molybdenum
  • lithium
  • sodium
  • potassium

With all these nutrients, where do you start learning about them to see if you have a deficiency?

The answer is you simply take one at a time.

Let’s start with one of the most common deficiencies, one seen in many diabetics and many who have ADHD, hearing loss, are irritable, and are constipated. Can you guess which nutrient this is?

It’s magnesium.

What are the Signs of Magnesium Deficiency?

One of the magnesium experts of our time, Dr. Mark Sircus, explains on his website that magnesium deficiency symptoms start out with leg cramps, muscle twitches or foot pain. You may also have fatigue, weakness, no appetite, noise sensitivity, insomnia, nausea and vomiting. Back aches and other muscle aches and pains will also occur. In research studies, chronic fatigue sufferers are often deficient in magnesium.

But as a magnesium deficiency gets more established in your body, worse symptoms such as disturbed heart rhythms and palpitations, high blood pressure, numbness, tingling, seizures, and personality changes will occur. The personality changes will include hyperirritability, nervousness, confusion, apprehensiveness, depression and anger outbreaks. A sudden heart attack could be caused by a magnesium deficiency.

Headaches caused by tension, as well as migraines are also possible magnesium deficiency symptoms. In fact, in many research studies, patients are cured of their migraines when a magnesium deficiency is corrected. This connection is not a big surprise, as magnesium is your body’s relaxing element.

Some of the more unusual symptoms of a deficiency include:

  • restlessness, moving constantly
  • panic attacks
  • PMS
  • cravings for salt, chocolate and carbohydrates
  • carbohydrate intolerance
  • tenderness in the breast
  • mitral valve prolapse
  • angina
  • brain fog

  • inability to focus
  • disorientation
  • widespread inflammation in the body
  • kidney stones
  • blurred vision
  • ulcers in the mouth
  • tenderness in the breasts
  • urinary spasms
  • TMJ dysfunction
  • sighing

Severe magnesium deficiency can also cause three symptoms that are commonly associated with diabetes: thirst, hunger and frequent urination.

One of the big problems with magnesium deficiency is that this element is especially important for the absorption of calcium and potassium. If magnesium is deficient, calcium and potassium are often deficient, too.

Many studies have found that most diabetics are low in magnesium, and when they are, it makes sense that they would end up with high blood pressure as well as heart problems. It also explains why diabetics usually have widespread inflammation in the body. Other studies show that good levels of magnesium in the body can prevent type 2 diabetes from occurring.

There is much interest about magnesium in universities worldwide. Some studies find it helpful to prevent metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, chronic diabetic complications, death from congestive heart failure, and the prevention of blood clots.

Magnesium Even Helps Your Brain Functioning

The newest research is exciting about magnesium because it finds that this mineral is important for maintaining the plasticity of the synapses. What this means is that in order for you to learn, the synapses in your brain have to change (plasticity) to adapt to the new information learned. The faster your synapses work, the greater your level of creativity.

When scientists looked deep into the use of magnesium for cognitive function, they found that this mineral speeds the return of learning and memory after a brain injury. Magnesium deficiency can impair the ability to learn and remember. Yet,

Magnesium reverses cognitive functioning decline and the ability of your synapses to work by increasing the density of the synapses in the brain. When you can get a benefit like this, you can help your brain start to reverse some of the changes that are related to Alzheimer’s disease. Loss of synaptic density in the brain is one of the first signs of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium has also been found to improve spatial memory, such as navigating mazes.

How Would I Know If I am Magnesium Deficient?

Why is it that many people aren’t diagnosed with a magnesium deficiency? The usual lab tests don’t pick up a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium acts as an electrolyte in the body, and levels of it in the blood have to be constantly maintained.

Therefore, bone stores of magnesium will be pulled out to use during times when magnesium is needed just to keep the levels constant. About sixty percent of your body’s magnesium is stored in the bones. A better test for magnesium levels is a red blood cell magnesium test.

What Causes Magnesium Deficiency?

Low intake is one of the major causes of magnesium deficiency. However, hyperthyroidism, malabsorption syndromes, diabetes, diuretic use, pancreatic inflammation, diarrhea and eating foods high in phytic acid can cause a deficiency.

Magnesium is absorbed in the intestines and excreted by the kidneys, so any problems with the intestinal tract or kidneys can impact absorption of magnesium from food.

Alcoholism is notorious for creating a magnesium deficiency, and the DTs (delirium tremens, or bad tremors with hallucinations) in withdrawals are a big sign there is a severe magnesium deficiency that can cause death.

Antibiotics, cancer drugs, drugs for Crohn’s disease and other gastrointestinal disorders deplete the mineral, too.

Stress also increases the loss of magnesium. Magnesium should be administered to everyone in the ICU of the hospital because deficiency can worsen any conditions that are life-threatening.

Where To Find Magnesium

Magnesium is found in hard water, but this is not the best place to get your magnesium for the day – about 300 to 400 mg, depending on if you’re female or male. Optimum intake is 600 to 800 mg per day. Deep leafy green vegetables are a good source of magnesium. Here’s a list of some high magnesium foods:

High Magnesium Foods

Black-eyed peas or lima beans, ½ cup cooked 43-50 mg
Black beans, ½ cup 60 mg
Pumpkin seeds, cashews, or almonds 1 ounce 74 to 80 mg
Swiss chard or spinach, ½ cup cooked 75-87 mg
Lentils or Brown rice, ½ cup 36-43 mg
Plain non fat yogurt, 1 cup 47 mg
Oat bran or quinoa, ½ cup cooked 44-59 mg
1-tablespoon blackstrap molasses 48 mg

Can you see that you would have to make a concerted effort to eat some of these foods daily to get enough magnesium?

Which Magnesium is Best for You?

Have you ever noticed that if you take a bath and add Epsom salts to the water, you feel better temporarily? This is because the Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate. The effect doesn’t last very long, but if you change the type of magnesium to magnesium chloride flakes, your skin will absorb the nutrient much better and faster. You’ll feel better for longer.

Interestingly, if you consume an oral supplement of magnesium oxide or magnesium carbonate, your body will have to add chloride to the magnesium in order for you to absorb it. The chloride usually comes from the hydrochloric acid produced in the stomach. Magnesium chloride is best absorbed in the body. Magnesium chloride is similar to the type of magnesium found in seawater.

You can also find skin patches that administer magnesium to the skin pores that pick it up quickly. These skin patches are usually made with magnesium chloride.

Magnesium oil is another great way to get magnesium into the cells quickly. It also contains magnesium chloride, which feels like an oil although it isn’t one. Magnesium oil comes in spray or lotion forms. Athletes use it to reduce pain, plus it may also help with regeneration of the tissues. About an ounce is used daily.

Magnesium –L-theonate is the form of magnesium that increases scores for short-term and long-term memory. The other forms commonly used – magnesium citrate, glycinate, gluconate and chloride haven’t shown effectiveness for improving cognitive functions and reversing the cognitive decline that occurs in people. The dosage of this form of magnesium is 2000 mg per day.

Summary

Magnesium is vital to all life – and to your life. It’s too easy to let modern life with the wrong food choices, stress, and even present medical treatment interfere with your magnesium levels.

Take this information to heart and try an experiment. See what happens and how some of the symptoms you are having now are eliminated when you take magnesium in the form of magnesium chloride. Give it 30 days, then another 30 days and then a final 30 days for the experiment. You’ll be amazed at how one simple little change in your health habits can drastically impact many things in your body.

Sources:
  • Sircus, Mark. Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms and Diagnosis. http://drsircus.com/medicine/magnesium/magnesium-deficiency-symptoms-diagnosis Accessed Aug. 20, 2015.
  • http://drsircus.com/medicine/magnesium/
  • Hughes, Emmett, DC, MS. Magnesium: A Best-Kept Secret. http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=3956 Accessed Aug. 21, 2015.
  • Sircus, Mark. Uses of Magnesium Oil. Accessed Aug. 21, 2015. http://drsircus.com/medicine/magnesium/uses-of-magnesium-oil
  • Nayor, David. Report. Magnesium: Widespread Deficiency with Deadly Consequences. Life Extension Magazine, May 2008. Accessed August 21, 2015.
    http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2008/5/Magnesium-Widespread-Deficiency-With-Deadly-Consequences/Page-01
  • Faloon, William. As We See It. Reversing Brain Decay. Life Extension Magazine Jan 2012. Accessed Aug. 21, 2015. http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2012/1/Reversing-Brain-Decay/Page-01

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About the author

Dr. France Carpentier

Dr. France Carpentier has over forty years of experience as a healthcare professional. She started as a Registered Nurse in Quebec, Canada, which was followed by over thirty years as a Chiropractor in Florida. She has always had a focus on nutrition using a holistic approach to health and wellness.