Are You Getting Enough Magnesium? Your Body Depends On It!
The beautiful crystal above is magnesium. I live near a magnesium plant on the edge of the Great Salt Lake. The plant makes magnesium metal from the ancient inland Lake Bonneville, the precursor to the Great Salt Lake, where minerals have concentrated.
Magnesium is abundant. On average, one hundred gallons of seawater will have a pound of magnesium in the form of magnesium chloride salt. For this reason, there is a limitless resource for the metal. That is why regardless of the uses of magnesium, there is no problem when it comes to supply. However, it takes a lot of energy, in the form of electricity, to separate the magnesium from the chloride and purify it.
Magnesium is incredibly useful. Its alloys are found everywhere from cameras to airplanes. All racing tire rims are made of magnesium because the alloy is stronger and lighter than aluminum.
Plants are green because the same molecule that carries oxygen in your blood, hemoglobin, has an atom of magnesium instead of iron. This is called chlorophyll. So, the central atom in our blood is iron, whereas in chlorophyll it is magnesium.
That single atom of magnesium allows the plant to use the energy from light to make all its proteins and sugars from the carbon dioxide in the air. Without magnesium the plant would have no energy and could not survive, the same as if you had no iron for your blood.
But, you also need magnesium, as much as any plant. Magnesium is required in the human body for over 300 different enzymes. That’s a lot! Without magnesium the body doesn’t function at all.
For example, one of the essential functions of magnesium is in getting sugar into the cells. Without magnesium, insulin doesn’t work, and people can become insulin resistant just from being deficient in magnesium.
Symptoms of low magnesium
- Cramps, muscle twitching
- Chronic pain
- Abnormal Heart rhythm
- Migraine headaches
Osteoporosis and Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium is essential for bone health, where 60% of the magnesium we need is stored.
If your body needs magnesium, it will take the minerals out of the bones – which also takes out the calcium. Calcium is then lost in the urine, and may create kidney stones. Proper deposition of calcium requires magnesium. Osteoporosis is most often related to a lack of magnesium, and not calcium. People with osteoporosis who only take calcium often don’t build their bones and end up with calcium deposits in their arteries. Even people with sufficient calcium will get brittle bones if there is not enough magnesium. Taking extra vitamin D won’t help because magnesium deficiency will create resistance to vitamin D. Magnesium deficiency is probably a more common cause of osteoporosis than both calcium deficiency and vitamin D deficiency – combined.
People who have higher magnesium levels in the blood have lower blood pressure, and are 38% less likely to die of a heart attack.\
Without sufficient magnesium, there are several problems that can happen to arteries. First, they will be more likely to build calcium deposits, and become clogged with atherosclerosis – or hardening of the arteries. Second, they become stiffer, requiring more pressure to push the blood to the tissues. And, third, the muscles in the arteries are not able to relax, decreasing the flow of blood to the tissues. This leads to fibromyalgia, neuropathy, migraine headaches, back pain, and especially – heart disease.
Migraine Headaches and Magnesium Deficiency
Those who suffer with migraine headaches have lower blood magnesium levels.
The blood vessels constrict and are not able to relax when there isn’t enough magnesium. The brain sends signals that it isn’t getting enough blood and increases the pressure. The excess pressure in the head is felt as pain. There are other reasons for having problems with circulation in the brain, causing migraines, but magnesium deficiency is among the more common.
Diabetes and Magnesium Deficiency
Type 2 diabetes is significantly associated with magnesium deficiency because magnesium is required for insulin to let sugar into the cells.
If there isn’t enough magnesium, then insulin doesn’t work. This is what is called “insulin resistance” or type 2 diabetes mellitus. Having sufficient magnesium will improve the function of insulin, lower insulin resistance, and even reverse type 2 diabetes.
About two-thirds of the population in the western hemisphere does not get enough magnesium every day. Magnesium is abundant in food, but none our staple foods are abundant in magnesium. For example, magnesium is in wheat, but not white flour; there is more magnesium in 100 grams of wheat bread (100mg) than in the same amount of spinach (80mg). By contrast, white bread has only about 20mg of magnesium per 100 grams.
Since our staple foods include meat and processed grains, it is hard for most Americans to get a good supply of magnesium. Few Americans live on beans, lentils, whole grains, and dark green vegetables so it’s hard to get an optimum supply of magnesium.
Foods that Deplete Magnesium
Moreover, some of the foods we eat can contribute to deficiency of magnesium.