According to neurosurgeon and scientist Norman Shealy, MD, PhD, “Every known illness is associated with a magnesium deficiency and it’s the missing cure to many diseases.” Magnesium is involved in nearly every body process including antioxidant synthesis, cellular development, and the regulation of calcium, potassium and sodium levels. With magnesium being required for all these mechanisms we find that people withlow magnesium are at risk for all known cardiovascular conditions including angina, arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, heart attack, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
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Symptoms of magnesium deficiency
– Anxiety and depression – those under high stress absorb dietary magnesium less efficiently;
– Dental caries – insufficient magnesium results in poor vitamin D metabolism impairing bone formation;
– Constipation – due to magnesium’s laxative effects, if you suffer from constipation you are more than likely magnesium deficient;
– Fatigue – magnesium is a key component in the reactions necessary to form the biomolecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and is responsible for energy production in the body. ATP is known as the primary “energy currency of the cell”. If you don’t have enough energy for your cellular needs, much less daily activities, you will feel fatigued;
– Gastrointestinal illnesses –most magnesium is absorbed in the small intestine so those who suffer from intestinal complaints or diseases such as coeliac’s or Crohn’s tend to be deficient in magnesium;
– Heart palpitations and high blood pressure – magnesium is critical to all heart functions;
– Insomnia – melatonin and other sleep hormones are dependent on magnesium levels;
– Migraines–and related issues like muscle cramps, muscle pain, eye twitches, and fibromyalgia are all contingent on magnesium;
– Osteoporosis – as with dental cavities, bone formation is impaired;
– Thyroid issues –the thyroid hormone T4 thyroid hormone requires magnesium to convert it into the active form of T3. This conversion is critical to your body’s metabolism; and
– Type 2 diabetes, weight gain – insufficient dietary magnesium causes insulin and blood glucose levels to rise leading to weight gain and then diabetes.
Reasons for depletion
Three out of four Americans have low levels of magnesium. Why? One reason is the depletion of minerals in the soil where our food is grown. A study published in 2004 of the U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, found “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and vitamin C over the past half century. These finding were concluded to be due to the preponderance of agricultural practices designed to improve traits such as growth rate, pest resistance, and size instead of nutrition. This means that even if you eat completely organic you are still at risk of low magnesium due to farming practices. The fruits and vegetables we eat today are a far cry from the nutritional content of just 65 years ago.
Perhaps more importantly, our culture of medicating the symptoms instead of the cause of disease plays a huge role. Medications for chronic disease often damage the gut thereby preventing absorption of magnesium and other minerals.
How to improve your magnesium levels
You may want to run out and purchase a magnesium supplement and hope that all will be well; I caution against that. It is very easy to overdose on magnesium and bring toxicity to your body and internal organs; diarrhoea being your first clue! While food sources have depleted nutrient levels, legumes and nuts are still our best sources of proper levels of dietary magnesium. Tap water, too. Greatly limit your intake of processed foods that are full of empty calories and stripped of nutrients. If you are truly magnesium deficient after dietary changes, speak with your physician about supplementation for a short period. Eat your vegetables. Your heart will thank you.
Dr. James Kneller treats atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia, and other heart conditions in Yakima, WA, serving patients across Eastern Washington and beyond.
Davis, D.R., Epp, M.D., &Riordan, H.D. (2004). Changes in USDA food composition data for 43 garden crops, 1950 to 1999.Journal of the American College of Nutrition.23(6), 669-82.
Kokubo, Y., Saito, I., Iso, H., Yamagishi, K., Yatsuya, H., Ishihara, J., Maruyama, K., Inoue, M., Sawada, N., Tsugane, S. (2017). Dietary magnesium intake and risk of incident coronary heart disease in men: A prospective cohort study. Clinical Nutrition,17, 30274.
Wu, J., Xun, P., Tang, Q., Cai, W., & He, K. (2017). Circulating magnesium levels and incidence of coronary heart diseases, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Nutrition Journal, 16, 60.