Oct 8, 2013


Fancy feeling like her in the hammock? Yep. Read on.

When most people think magnesium they think muscle cramps or eye twitching - as this magic mineral is what helps with both these conditions, and what most people walk into the health food store asking about (that and weight loss). You might be surprised to know then that magnesium is in fact essential for the functioning of more than 300 different biochemical reactions in the body, particularly those that produce, transport, store, and utilize energy. Dr Christiane Northrup writes up that this includes:

-- Protein synthesis. DNA and RNA in our cells require magnesium for cell growth and development.
-- Sparking of the electrical signals that must travel throughout the miles of nerves in our bodies, including our brain, heart, and other organs.
-- Normal blood pressure, vascular tone, transmission of nerve cell signals, and blood flow.
-- Functioning of all nerves and muscles.
-- Release and binding of adequate amounts of serotonin in the brain. (1)

In short, living without adequate levels of magnesium is like trying to operate a machine with the power off. And like a machine, it's likely to malfunction.

We need magnesium to:

-- Ensure our bowels are working properly
-- Support a healthy immune system
-- Keep our bones strong
-- Relax our muscles and improves their functioning
-- Keep our heart working its best
-- Regulate our blood sugar levels
-- Promote normal blood pressure (not too high, not too low)
-- And to help absorb calcium, whilst also balancing the two together

You can imagine then that if you are deficient in magnesium, you could be experiencing anything from
muscle spasm and twitching (most common), breathlessness and heart palpitations, irritability, fatigue, trouble falling asleep, and hypersensitivity to loud noises. Neck and back pain, constipation, anxiety, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, migranes, blood sugar problems, and an additional 38 other issues according to The Nutrient Bible (2) are all other symptoms.

What about STRESS?

You bet your bottom dollar that stress and magnesium are linked, and this is what I want to focus on here. Mag is the most important mineral for coping with stress. Have a look again at that list of deficiency symptoms above... they all relate to stress in some form or another. When you are chronically stressed, you can become magnesium deficient even if you are eating magnesium-rich foods daily - due to the complex relationship between magnesium and stress which I wont go into.

Image Source
Physician, author, professor and nutrition expert Leo Galland writes "If you are like most people, when you are exposed to the stress of continuous loud noise, for example, you become irritable, easily fatigued and lose concentration. Your blood pressure may increase as the level of adrenaline, a stress hormone, increases in your blood. Under conditions of mental or physical stress, magnesium is released from your blood cells and goes into the blood plasma, from where it is excreted into the urine. Chronic stress depletes your body of magnesium. The more stressed you are, the greater the loss of magnesium. The lower your magnesium level to begin with, the more reactive to stress you become and the higher your level of adrenaline in stressful situations. Higher adrenaline causes greater loss of magnesium from cells. Administering magnesium as a nutritional supplement breaks this vicious cycle by raising blood magnesium levels and buffering the response to stress, building your resistance" (3)

One study found the "Results of animal experiments and clinical observations indicate that both central nervous and peripheral systemic reactions to acute stress can be accentuated by magnesium deficiency and reduced by mild hypermagnesemia, respectively". (4)

In lay-mans terms; if you're deficient in magnesium, your response/reaction to stress will be greater than if you have optimal magnesium levels, and more so if you have mildly high magnesium levels.

What depletes magnesium in our system?

Great question.

More than we'd hope unfortunately, and a lot of it has to do with the stressors of the modern diet and lifestyle. Alcohol, salt, coffee, soft drinks, prolonged stress, intestinal parasites, excessive menstruation, diuretics, antibiotics and other drugs all deplete our body of magnesium. And when you look at it, each and every one of those is a form of stress on our body, or stemming from a form of stress.

This is all further complicated by the fact that magnesium is often poorly absorbed and easily lost from our bodies. To properly absorb magnesium we need a lot of it in our diet, plus enough vitamin B6, vitamin D, and selenium to get the job done. (5)

So what can we do?

-- Eat more magnesium rich foods; 
          Leafy greens
          Almonds, almond butter, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts, pecans
          Sea vegetables like kelp, dulse, wakame
          Pumpkin seeds
          Coriander, parsley, dandelion greens
          Figs and dates
          Buckwheat flour
          Oatbran, barley, rye
          Wheat germ and wheat bran
-- Reduce your stress levels
          Deep breathing practices
          Go walking after work
          Yoga nidra
-- Take a bath with magnesium salts (magnesium sulfate) to relax and absorb the mineral through your skin
-- Use topical magnesium creams, oils and sprays for transdermal application (ie. through the skin)

And if your Nutritionist sees you and can see a magnesium deficiency, the best dietary supplements are the acid salts of magensium like magnesium chloride, citrate, aspartate or glycinate. Avoid magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide. They are poorly absorbed (and the cheapest and most common forms found in supplements). (6) And magnesium chelate is the crappiest in my opinion (but if this is included amongst other types in the one supplement, it's ok, just don't count this in your total elemental magnesium dose).

The RDA (the minimum amount needed) for magnesium each day in Oz is about 350 mg a day, and most of us are not getting this. Some people may need much more depending on their condition (upward of 1,000mg/day) but this will have to be advised by a practitioner as too much magnesium can cause diarrhea.

So do you have any of the symptoms I wrote about up top?
Do you currently take a magnesium supplement? What results have you noticed?
I'd love to  hear from you in the comments below.

Christie xx

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(1) Northrup, Christiane, The Magic of Magnesium; A Mighty Mineral Essential for Health
(2) Osiecki, Henry, Nutrient Bible, AG Publishing
(3) Galland, Leo, Magnesium: The Stress Reliever, 2013
(4) PubMed, Stress and magnesium, Classen HG
(5) Hyman, Mark. 2010. Magnesium: The most powerful relaxation mineral available
(6) Hyman, Mark. 2010. Magnesium: The most powerful relaxation mineral available

1 comment:

  1. Yep;
    Twitchy left eye, trouble falling asleep, a bit of constipation - previously...
    But I'm not feeling stressed, or doing much other than drink a cup of coffee each day...
    I'm pretty positive I don't have a parasite, but is there ever any quick way to tell?