Magnesium is a mineral found in the earth, sea, plants, animals and is present in every organ of the human body. It impacts blood pressure, metabolism, immune function and is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions that regulate our health and wellness. Being such an important mineral, it is concerning to read that The World Health Organisation reports the majority of people are not meeting adequate intake levels of magnesium, even though they may be eating a healthy diet.
Why are we not getting enough Magnesium?
There are a variety of reasons as to why we aren’t receiving enough of this important mineral in modern times. One of the main reasons is due to depleted soil conditions from pesticide use and over-farming, meaning that plants that grow from this soil are lower in magnesium. The use of chemicals like fluoride and chlorine in the water supply also make magnesium less available in the water supply as these chemicals can bind to magnesium.
Substances that many of us consume daily also deplete the body’s magnesium levels, with the biggest culprits being caffeine and sugar. Another common health problem that also depletes magnesium levels is stress.
Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms
These symptoms may be an indication of magnesium deficiency:
Muscle twitches and cramps
Twitches, tremors and muscle cramps are all signs of a magnesium deficiency and are usually one of the most noticeable symptoms. Magnesium can cause a stiffening of the muscle tissue, with scientists believing that this symptom is caused by a greater flow of calcium into the nerve cells which overexcites muscle nerves. Interestingly, muscle weakness caused by low potassium levels is linked to low magnesium levels, as adequate levels of one helps the other.
Anxiety and depression
There has been a lot of research conducted into the tremendous impact of magnesium deficiency on mental health. Psychology today state “When you start to untangle the effects of magnesium in the nervous system, you touch upon nearly every single biological mechanism for depression.” Magnesium seems to act on many levels of the hormonal axis and regulation of the stress response, suppressing the ability of the hippocampus to stimulate the ultimate release of the stress hormone.
High blood pressure
A Harvard study of over 70,000 people found that those with the highest magnesium intake had the healthiest blood pressure numbers. It has been shown that magnesium deficiency increases blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease.
Magnesium has a drastic impact on sleep which is often most noticeable when a person starts taking magnesium supplementation. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant, helping to sooth the body and the mind, resulting in a restful sleep. Magnesium is needed for proper function of the GABA receptors in the brain, with GABA being the neurotransmitter that allows the brain to transition to a restful, “slow down” state
Osteoperosis is a disorder characterised by weak bones and an increased risk of bone fractures. Studies have shown that lower magnesium levels reduced bone mass. In cases of magnesium deficiency, a person’s blood also has lower levels of calcium – the main building blocks for bone health.
Fagiue, which is characterised by physical or mental exhaustion or weakness, is another symptom of magnesium deficiency. Everyone gets tired from time to time, but severe or persistent fatigue may be a sign of a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium is required in the reactions that create ATP energy in the cells. ATP is the main source of energy in the cells and it must bind to magnesium ion in order to be active.
Fixing the problem
While it is key to increase your magnesium levels through eating a magnesium-rich diet, another way is to supplement with magnesium.
Nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds and almonds)
Leafy greens such a spinach and kale
While it can be useful to supplement with magnesium tablets, bear in mind that they may cause digestive disturbances or stress the kidneys. Experts estimate that magnesium absorption in the digestive system ranges from 20-55%, meaning that a lot of what you take leaves the body as waste.
Magnesium oil can be sprayed directly onto the skin. Topical application of magnesium can help prevent side effects and work more quickly and effectively. In one study, patients using transdermal (topical) magnesium saw an increase in their cellular magnesium levels after 12 weeks, with an average increase of 25%.
It is best to spray magnesium oil onto your skin after a shower, when the skin is clear of other lotions and oils. After spraying, magnesium should be thoroughly rubbed in and left on the skin for 30 minutes. After this, you can either wipe it down or take a shower.
If you don’t like spraying magnesium directly onto your skin, you can take a bath of magnesium chloride diluted in a hot bath or take a foot soak.