14 Little-Known Facts About Magnesium Deficiency
14 Little-Known Facts About Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium deficiency has been called the “silent epidemic” of modern times, and it’s on the rise. Research by the World Health Organization concluded 75% of Americans are Magnesium-deficient, which can lead to major health problems like heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and diabetes.
The trouble is, insomnia, brain fog, depression, and other early warning signs of Magnesium deficiency are so common to other issues like stress, doctors rarely test for Magnesium deficiency until you’re lying in the hospital in critical condition.
To make matters worse, when doctors do test for Magnesium deficiency, they do a blood test—which is the wrong kind of test. Your body stores 99% of its Magnesium in bones, muscle, and soft tissues. So, doctors routinely send patients away as having “normal” Magnesium levels when they’re not, and Magnesium deficiency keeps spreading.
The good news: You can easily turn Magnesium deficiency around today to immediately experience better sleep, clearer mental focus and a fresh new mood while protecting yourself against larger, life-shattering health problems.
The Best Food Sources for Magnesium
Nuts, seeds and leafy greens rule as top foods rich in Magnesium.
A ½-cup serving of boiled spinach, for example, contains 78mgs of Magnesium (or, 20% of RDA). A 1-oz. serving of dry roasted almonds also contains 20% RDA, and ¼ cup of pumpkin or squash seeds knocks RDA out of the park at a whopping 317mg (or, 134% RDA).
However, before you head to the grocery store, be aware that spinach tops the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List of produce most contaminated by pesticides. And in 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report linking pesticide residues early in life to ADHD, birth defects and childhood cancers.
To better protect your health, the Centre for Science and Environment recommends washing fruits and vegetables with a 2% salt-water solution to remove most contact pesticide residues. Or buy organic produce that was grown without pesticides.
The same goes for commercial almonds. Most almonds sold in the U.S. today have been fumigated with a chemical called Propylene Oxide, which has been linked to cancer. Almonds that have been heat-treated are considered organic and safer.
Sweating Depletes Magnesium (But Don’t Fall for Sports Drinks)
Drive any car with faulty ignition wires and the car will run poorly, and the same is true for Magnesium. As one of the major minerals necessary for human life, Magnesium is an electrolyte, meaning it carries an electric charge that’s responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in your body. From maintaining muscle and nerve health to building strong bones and giving you energy, Magnesium always makes sure your body is running fully charged and your health is firing on all cylinders.
When you sweat, you lose electrolytes, and many sports-drink companies want you to believe their brightly colored beverages are the perfect electrolyte replacement, even if you’re just sweating from a walk on the beach. However, sports drinks are high in carbs and sugar, meaning they’re best used by athletes after hours of hard physical exercise. If you’re consuming sports drinks for simple refreshment, you’re going to gain unwanted weight. Also, many sports drinks don’t contain Magnesium.
As a healthier source of electrolyte replacement, try coconut water. Eight ounces of coconut water only has 46 calories but contains 60mg of Magnesium (along with other electrolytes like potassium and sodium).
Antacids Rob Your Body of Magnesium
If Tums or Rolaids are your go-to solution for acid indigestion, you’re robbing your body of Magnesium.
Tums and Rolaids contain calcium carbonate, which stops acid indigestion by lowering or neutralizing the amount of acid in your stomach. The downside is that, when stomach acid can’t properly do its job of breaking down food, your body can’t properly absorb important food minerals like Magnesium. And convenience-store antacids like Tums and Rolaids are just the tip of the iceberg. Other antacids that rob your body of Magnesium include :
- Maalox and Mylanta (aluminum and magnesium hydroxide)
- Caltrate and Titralac (calcium carbonate)
- Alka-Seltzer (sodium bicarbonate)
- Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia (magnesium hydroxide)
Red wine, spicy foods, chocolate, coffee, and citrus fruits can all cause acid indigestion. To reduce the need for antacids, monitor which foods cause you problems and consider eliminating them from your diet. Or consider a daily Magnesium supplement, even if you’re only using antacids once or twice a month. If acid indigestion becomes a persistent problem, speak with your doctor.
Magnesium = Longer Life
People with healthy Magnesium levels are more likely to live longer, regardless of diet, weight, or family health history, according to recent research published by the American Society for Nutrition.
In 2014, 7,216 men and women ages 55-80 were chosen for a five-year study to determine the effects of a Mediterranean diet to prevent heart disease. All participants had type 2 diabetes and three or more heart-disease risk factors:
- low LDL cholesterol
- high LDL cholesterol
- nicotine dependency
- family history of heart disease
Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 Mediterranean diets rich in olive oil and mixed nuts or low-fat eating guidelines recommended by the American Heart Association.
After five years of follow-up, researchers discovered that participants who averaged 454mg of Magnesium intake per day—regardless of their diet, weight, or family health history—had a 34% less chance of dying from heart disease.
Most Foods Are Poor in Magnesium
Feeling full after a meal doesn’t mean you’re getting the daily amount of Magnesium your body needs for a long, healthy life, and the evidence proves it.
In studies by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers compared the daily dietary mineral intake of 8,860 American adults against the RDA for Magnesium (400-420mg/day for men, 310-320mg/day for women). Participants who used a daily Magnesium supplement met or exceeded RDA. Participants who relied on food alone for magnesium scored low in RDA (268mg for men, 234mg for women).
The reason for the difference is simple. Decades ago, our food was more natural and rich in all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need for optimal health. Today because of soil depletion, genetic crop modification and more, our foods have far fewer nutrients.
The good news: A daily Magnesium supplement quickly turns it all around.
For the NHANES study participants who failed RDA, a daily Magnesium supplement easily brought them above RDA (449mg for men and 387mg for women).
Magnesium Prevents Hearing Damage
If you’ve ever walked away from a club or concert with muffled hearing or ringing in your ears, you know that hearing damage isn’t just something that happens with age. And the causes of hearing damage aren’t as simple as clubs and concerts. From industrial noise to leaf blowers to headphones at high volume, the causes of hearing damage are all around you every day, and they’re practically inescapable.
Now, you could wear earplugs all the time or live on top of some quiet mountain, but if you want to protect your hearing without making your life more complicated, Magnesium has been shown to reduce hearing damage from noise.
In studies published in the American Journal of Otolaryngology, 300 young, healthy military recruits were given an additional daily drink containing either 167mg of Magnesium or a placebo during two months of basic training. As the training involved regular exposure to high noise like explosions, all recruits were given earplugs. At the end of the two months, the placebo group had significantly more hearing damage than the Magnesium group.
Magnesium Keeps Your Heart Working Properly
Without enough Magnesium, your heart simply cannot function properly, and you’re at higher risk of abnormal or racing heartbeat that can lead to cardiac arrest.
As a muscle, your heart uses Magnesium more than any other part of your body because it has the important job of keeping you alive, and Magnesium is a key factor in keeping your heart healthy and beating properly. As an electrolyte that conducts electrical signals in your body, Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, meaning it helps maintain normal function of your heart’s “electrical wiring”. Without enough Magnesium, your heart is like a battery running on borrowed time, and when it gives out, no amount of medical drugs or defibrillation may be able to bring you back.
Case in point:
According to The Journal of Emergency Medicine, a woman was having liposuction surgery at the Rose Medical Center in Denver, CL, when she developed bradycardia (a slowing of the heart to under 60 beats per minute).
Doctors tried epinephrine, atropine, and dopamine to restore her heartbeat. When drugs failed, doctors applied electric shock to her heart. When that failed, they shocked her six more times. However, the woman only went into cardiac arrest, and for an hour, doctors struggled to keep her alive with oxygen and CPR.
The doctors finally gave her a dose of intravenous Magnesium before shocking her heart an eighth time—and she regained a normal heartbeat in 4 minutes and recovered with no neurological damage.
Magnesium Deficiency Linked to Miscarriage
Pregnant women need more Magnesium to prevent against life-threatening birth complications that can harm or kill their babies, and the younger you are, the more Magnesium you need.
The Magnesium RDA for pregnant women varies according to three age groups: 14-18 (400 mg), 19-30 (350mg) and 31-50 (360mg). Overall, RDA for pregnant women is 40mg per day higher than normal. That’s because Magnesium has to perform the double duty of building and repairing tissue during pregnancy while contributing directly to fetal development. If you’re not meeting RDA with optimal Magnesium levels, your existing Magnesium levels become stretched too far, and the results can be horrendous.
Studies link Magnesium deficiency to heightened risk of miscarriage, preeclampsia, birth defects and premature labor. Separate studies link Magnesium deficiency with an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Birth Control Pills Kill Magnesium
No woman wants an unplanned pregnancy, but then again, no woman wants to hear her doctor say, “Congratulations! You’ve got cancer because of Magnesium deficiency caused by your birth-control pills.”
As a major class of prescription drugs, birth-control pills increase your risk of depression, immune deficiency, heart disease and more by depleting your Magnesium levels. Worse still, birth-control pills deplete levels of other key nutrients like Vitamin B12. Unfortunately, many doctors don’t know the nutritional cost to women when they prescribe birth-control pills, and women pay the price with an increased risk of insomnia, anxiety, blood clots, fatigue and heart attack.
To ensure you’re getting all the Magnesium your body needs without risking unwanted pregnancy by ditching birth-control pills, the World Health Organization recommends “dietary supplements should be considered as a first-line approach” to raising and maintaining health Magnesium levels.
Epsom Salt Baths May Be a Magnesium Placebo
Few things are more appealing than the thought of slipping into a hot bath of Epsom salts at the end of the day and giving your Magnesium levels a boost while relaxing. As an added benefit, an Epsom salt bath offers relief from tired feet, sore muscles, and other aches.
The trouble is, your body has a DAILY need for Magnesium, and as busy as life can get, few people have the luxury of setting aside enough time every day for a long hot Magnesium bath. Secondly, you need a lot of Epsom salt. According to the Epsom Salt Council, the ideal concentration for using Epsom salt in bathwater to raise Magnesium levels is about 2 cups in 15 gallons of water.
With bags of Epsom salts ranging anywhere from 2 to 6 pounds and ranging in price from $20 to $40 U.S., you could easily spend hundreds of dollars a month by trying to have a Magnesium bath every night. And even if you manage it, you can’t control how much Magnesium your skin will absorb to get the steady daily RDA value of Magnesium that your body needs for optimal health—and here’s the kicker:
Epsom salt may not deliver any Magnesium benefits at all.
While the Epsom Salt Council sites one small, unpublished UK study as proof of how Epsom salt delivers Magnesium benefits, other studies found Epsom salt baths made people feel better from the placebo effect.
In other words, you can always count on a bath to help you feel better, but the effect may be more about the relaxing hot water than any Magnesium benefits from Epsom salts.
Coffee Depletes Magnesium
Coffee lovers and self-styled nutritionists love to recycle the message that coffee is good for health, and indeed, coffee has a positive side. Aside from offering a quick boost of mental and physical energy (and tasting pretty good too), coffee drinkers may be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, according to a growing body of research.
But here’s the downside that many people DON’T tell you:
Coffee depletes your Magnesium levels.
Your body gets Magnesium through intestinal absorption. Coffee (both fresh-roasted and instant) is a diuretic, meaning it causes you to produce more urine. So coffee flushes Magnesium from your body before you can absorb it, and the more coffee you drink, the more Magnesium you lose.
To make sure your body is getting the most of Magnesium, try reducing or even eliminating your coffee intake. If you can’t go without coffee, a Magnesium supplement is recommended to counteract the effects of coffee.
Magnesium Promotes Better Sleep—and Heart Health!
Most people don’t connect insomnia to an increased risk of stroke and heart disease, but that’s exactly what can happen if you’re not getting enough sleep.
Your body needs regular restful sleep for good health, mental sharpness, and well-being. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Duration Recommendations, adults age 18-64 should get 7-9 hours of solid sleep per night. Older adults (65+) need a little less sleep and teens (14-17) need a little more.
When you’re not getting enough regular, restful sleep, the resulting fatigue doesn’t just leave you feeling sluggish and miserable (although that’s bad enough). Sleep deprivation can increase your risk of chronic health problems like high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.
And here’s something truly staggering:
According to findings from three separate studies by Harvard Medical School, sleeping less than five hours per night can increase your overall risk of death by 15%.
Of course, getting a good night’s sleep is often easier said than done. Stress alone from daily life can cause repeated bouts of restless sleep and insomnia. However, Magnesium works as a remarkable sleep aid by boosting production of your body’s chief inhibitory neurotransmitter called Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (or, GABA for short). Increased GABA levels reduce stress and anxiety to easily promote deeper, more restful sleep.
Magnesium Fights Depression
Depression is more than just “having a bad day.” As a debilitating emotion that can quietly grow and get worse over time, depression covers a wide range of life-affecting emotions, from pessimism and sadness to feelings of inadequacy and despondency.
As a vital mineral in the fight against depression, Magnesium may seem like the newest nutrient on the block. However, Magnesium is one of the oldest and most trusted minerals to help lift depression. The first information on the beneficial effect of Magnesium on agitated depression was published in 1921, where Magnesium reversed depression in 220 out of 250 cases.
Since that time, numerous clinical studies have confirmed the demonstrated safety of Magnesium supplements to effectively fight depression. In published findings by the University of Maryland Medical Center, for example, one study found that Magnesium was as effective as antidepressants in treating depression among people with diabetes.
Magnesium Clears Brain Fog
If you’ve read through every section of this important article about the dangers of Magnesium deficiency, you might have a bit of brain fog right now from all the information. So I’ll keep this last section brief.
Although “brain fog” is not a medically recognized term, the phrase sums up a very real condition characterized by the inability to concentrate, having a short attention span, feelings of confusion and forgetfulness, and lack of focus and mental clarity. And brain fog is not just something that older adults suffer.
In a nationwide poll of 18,500 people, researchers from UCLA found that 14% of men and women ages 18-39 complained of poor memory, while over half of people age 50 and above admitted forgetting things.
While researchers remain divided on whether brain fog is an early warning sign of serious cognitive issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, studies show Magnesium as a key element in restoring and maintaining mental clarity and brain health.
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