6 Things You May Not Know About Magnesium
Magnesium is hands down my favorite mineral. Without it, the body can’t make energy, muscles don’t relax, and calcium builds up, leading to a host of negative effects. You’ll have symptoms if you’re deficient in this vital mineral, although you may not correlate them with a magnesium deficiency. Here are 6 things you may not know about magnesium.
Why Do We Need Magnesium?
This is an important question, and one which I will answer in the following 10 steps:
1. Magnesium Is An Enzymatic Cofactor
Magnesium is an essential cofactor required by the 700-800 enzyme systems in the body. These systems are responsible for thousands of biochemical reactions, including protein synthesis, temperature regulation, nerve signal transmission, blood flow, the proper functioning of all nerves and muscles throughout the body, and blood-pressure regulation. And that’s just for starters. The Kreb’s Cycle requires magnesium in five of the eight steps needed to make ATP, the energy currency of the body.
Because magnesium is the relaxation mineral, it decreases anxiety and panic attacks due to its ability to regulate stress hormones made by the adrenal glands. It relaxes the bronchiole muscles in the lungs, reducing the symptoms of asthma, and of course, magnesium is known for alleviating uncomfortable constipation, by relaxing the bowels.
Magnesium can also help with gynecological and obstetrical problems. It may reverse infertility due to its relaxation effect on the Fallopian tubes. Spasms within these tubes can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Magnesium can prevent premature labor and eclampsia as it calms contractions, while reducing the high-blood pressure that is common in women with toxemia. If you suffer from painful menstruation, take magnesium because it will relaxes the uterus, decreasing pain and discomfort.
2. Heart Attack And Stroke
This is a big one. Since magnesium is a natural calcium channel blocker, it can effectively prevent and treat cardiac arrhythmias and heart attacks. Magnesium IVs are well documented in preventing heart damage and death following a cardiac event, increasing heart attack survival rates. While many heart attacks are caused from blockages caused by blood clots and arrhythmias, a high percentage of attacks are due to arterial spasms. Magnesium relaxes the artery walls, reducing these dangerous spasms.
Magnesium reduces high-blood pressure and blood-vessel constriction, also reducing heart attack risk. Many people are put on diuretics and blood-pressure medications to lower t blood pressure. Medications typically have negative side effects, while depleting magnesium stores. Diuretics cause the blood to become viscous, increasing stroke risk. Magnesium naturally keeps the blood thin, preventing clots and is a natural statin as well, reducing high-cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These advantageous effects eliminate the need for prescription drugs, which keep the body in a state of inflammation. Magnesium improves overall vascular tone, keeping the arteries healthy.
Healthy blood pressure, and the reduced need for medication, also prevent TIAs and stroke. In fact, high-blood pressure is the number one cause of strokes. Magnesium has many neuro protective and vascular effects, including keeping the arteries dilated, and increasing blood flow, not only in the body, but in the brain as well. If magnesium is administered within three hours from the onset of a stroke, it can prevent further damage.
3. Smooth Muscle Relaxation
Over a quarter of the body’s magnesium stores are concentrated in the muscles. Magnesium is responsible for delivering the exact amount of life-giving oxygen to every muscle, helping them contract and relax. It also promotes the transmission of nerve impulses to the muscles, alleviating painful and annoying muscle spasms and muscle weakness.
Muscle control and neuromuscular function requires magnesium, along with other minerals. A deficiency in magnesium can cause muscle trembling, spasms, and painful cramping. Muscles twitch when they contract and release involuntarily. Magnesium releases tension, causing the fibers within the muscles to relax. It also prevents damage, and allows the body to repair itself more quickly.
Magnesium deficiency is a common condition, and one in which most people don’t associate with their restless legs, charley horses, and involuntary twitching. Although, dehydration and electrolyte imbalances may be at play, most people have at least some degree of magnesium deficiency, so supplementing with it is important since it can counteract high calcium levels in the muscles that can lead to muscle weakness and twitching.
4. Metabolic Syndrome And Diabetes
People with blood-sugar dysregulation, insulin resistance, and diabetes have lower blood-magnesium levels. Low magnesium is a risk factor for developing Metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Magnesium helps insulin work more effectively, increasing insulin sensitivity. This is significant because insulin resistance is a risk factor for, not only developing diabetes, but heart attacks, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.
Alzheimer’s is referred to as type 3 diabetes or diabetes of the brain, with insulin resistance as a precursor. Cancer feeds off the excess sugar in the blood due to insulin resistance, or the inability of insulin to transport glucose into the cells. Cells in the body ignore insulin signaling, leading to high-blood sugar, high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, abdominal obesity, tissue damage, and magnesium wasting, all risk factors for Metabolic syndrome.
The cells’ inability to respond to insulin’s signaling is caused by a lack of magnesium. Magnesium increases the cells’ sensitivity to insulin, allowing glucose to enter, preventing a host of negative and damaging symptoms. Insulin resistance can remain undetected for years, it’s not until blood-sugar levels start to rise, that symptoms appear. Prevent this from happening to you by eating a healthy diet, and maintaining your magnesium stores.
5. Strong Healthy Bones
We’ve all heard the hype about the importance of calcium for healthy bones. What we don’t hear is how critical magnesium, and vitamin D are as well. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body with over half of the body’s magnesium supplies being stored in the bones. While calcium is essential, magnesium may be even more important, due to the fact that calcium cannot be properly assimilated without it.
In the absence of vitamin D and magnesium, calcium by itself can lead to serious long-term health problems. This includes calcification of the artery walls, leading to cardiovascular disease, kidney calcification and kidney stones, and tinnitus, which is calcification of the tiny hairs in the ear. This is only a small sample of the calcification that occur, always resulting in chronic disease. Since calcification is a measure of aging, magnesium can be correctly termed an anti-aging mineral.
Let’s not forget the importance of vitamins A and K2 for bone health. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that influences both the osteoblasts, which build up bone, and osteoclasts the cells that break down bone. Vitamin K2, also a fat-soluble vitamin, is necessary to keep calcium in the bones and teeth, where it is needed, and out of the soft tissues where it can cause a variety of problems.
6. Vitamin D Metabolism
Vitamin D, which is actually a hormone, is necessary for bone health. Magnesium is required to convert vitamin D, either from the sun or from supplementation, into its active form where it can be used by the body. This active form is needed for calcium to be properly absorbed.
If you take too much vitamin D, without enough magnesium, you will likely create a magnesium deficiency because the enzymes that metabolize vitamin D require magnesium. With the recent hype of high-dose vitamin D supplementation, people have unwittingly caused themselves to become magnesium deficient. This underscores the importance of all minerals acting together, in the correct ratio, to ensure the bones stay strong and healthy.
I have noticed my magnesium levels decrease when I’m out in the sun a lot. The extra vitamin D drains my magnesium stores, and I get symptoms like restless legs, fatigue, and insomnia. Magnesium deficiency causes fatigue because magnesium is needed to convert carbohydrates into usable energy, and if you don’t have adequate energy, you’ll be tired. Take more magnesium if you’ll be out in the sun more than usual. Stick with a vitamin D dosage of no more than 2,000 international units daily if your supplementing with vitamin D3. Then you don’t have to worry about depleting magnesium.
Signs And Symptoms Of Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium and calcium work together. Magnesium controls calcium’s entry into every cell in the body, a process that happens every time a nerve cell fires. If too much calcium gets inside the cell, symptoms occur, including headaches, constipation, muscle cramping, fatigue, kidney stones, blood-vessel constriction, seizures, and depression as magnesium is responsible for releasing and binding healthy amounts of serotonin in the brain.
Look for additional signs such as:
- Arterial calcification
- Hormonal imbalances
- Panic attacks and anxiety
- Blood-sugar dysregulation
- Mineral deficiencies
- Morning sickness
- Tooth decay
- Memory impairments
Are Magnesium Supplements Safe?
Magnesium supplements are not only safe, but extremely necessary, as here in the US our soils don’t contain adequate amounts of magnesium due to farming practices. If the soils are void of magnesium, then the foods grown in that soil are deficient as well. Add to that the fact that food processing removes naturally-occurring magnesium found in some foods. Foods that contain generous amounts of magnesium, include avocados, bananas, beans, kelp, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and yes our favorite, chocolate!
I supplement with 600-800 milligrams of magnesium daily. If I’m under unusual stress or have eaten too much sugar, I’ll take more as magnesium stores are depleted by stress and sugar. I use magnesium chloride. You can buy it here, and while it may seem pricey, in actuality due to its superb absorbability, you’ll get more bang for your buck than products whose absorption rate isn’t as high. Be consistent with your supplementation as it can take up to a year to reach therapeutic magnesium levels.
On the other hand, calcium is easily obtained from the diet. If you’re eating dairy products, you are most likely meeting your body’s demand for calcium. Sea salt is an excellent source of this mineral, as are leafy greens and the bones of fish, such as sardines and canned salmon. If you feel you are not getting enough calcium from you diet alone, consider supplementing with this fabulous product, always balancing it with adequate amounts of magnesium.
I use magnesium lotion to augment my oral intake of magnesium. When applied to the skin, it stimulates the production of DHEA, a major marker of overall health, and a hormone that is associated with youth and longevity. You can check out the magnesium lotion I use here.
Let’s Wrap This Up
As you can see, magnesium is a miraculous mineral, and one which most people are grossly deficient in. Magnesium is required for energy production, bone health, blood-sugar regulation, and muscle relaxation, to name just a few of its many functions. Without it the body doesn’t function properly, and due to the fact that our soils are deficient in this vital mineral, supplementation is necessary to ensure our magnesium supplies are sufficient.
Do you have signs of magnesium deficiency? If you supplement with magnesium, what form do you use? Please take the time to leave a question or comment below. It helps all those reading this post!