Notes at least one study, a deficiency in one particularly critical nutrient may make you twice as likely to die as other people – yet at least half of all Americans remain deficient in this nutrient. The nutrient in question?
Even more surprising, given how little we talk about magnesium, is just how powerful it can be – especially in stress relief, relaxation, and as a sleep aid.
Doctors use it regularly in emergency rooms across the country – intravenous magnesium when patients are dying with life-threatening arrhythmia or when high blood pressure threatens a pregnancy, milk of magnesia when bowels need to be emptied before surgery, and more – and yet, most Americans never consider magnesium when looking at their health.
Perhaps it helps to think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral. Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff — whether it is a body part or an even a mood — is a sign of magnesium deficiency.
This critical mineral is actually responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions and is found in all of your tissues — but mainly in your bones, muscles, and brain. You must have it for your cells to make energy, for many different chemical pumps to work, to stabilize membranes, and to help muscles relax.
You might be magnesium deficient if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Anal spasms
- Chronic fatigue
- High blood pressure
- Irritable bladder
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Kidney stones
- Menstrual cramps
- Muscle cramps or twitches
- Sensitivity to loud noises
- Trouble swallowing
Magnesium deficiency has even has been linked to inflammation in the body!
And estimates among experts maintain that up to a fifth of all Americans are highly deficient, with estimates of those at least a little deficient reaching as high as eighty percent.
And that makes sense, because most Americans eat a highly-processed, refined diet that is based mostly on white flour, meat, and dairy (all of which have no magnesium), rather than a diet rich in magnesium, which would mean greens, nuts, beans, and seaweed.
This is made worse by our lifestyle choices, as magnesium levels are decreased by excess alcohol, salt, coffee, phosphoric acid in colas, profuse sweating, prolonged or intense stress, chronic diarrhea, excessive menstruation, diuretics (water pills), antibiotics and other drugs, and some intestinal parasites.
In fact, in one study in Kosovo, people under chronic war stress lost large amounts of magnesium in their urine.
The following are all steps you can take to help limit magnesium depletion, though:
- Check with your doctor if your medication is causing magnesium loss (many high blood pressure drugs or diuretics cause loss of magnesium)
- Limit coffee, colas, salt, sugar, and alcohol
- Learn how to practice active relaxation
You can also focus on adding the following magnesium-rich foods to your diet:
- brazil nuts
- brown rice
- collard greens
- dandelion greens
- soy beans
- wheat bran
- wheat germ
Additionally, supplements are a good option for many people; while the recommended daily allowance is 300 mg per day, most of us get far less than 200 mg, and many of us would benefit from a diet that gave us 400 – 1000 mg each day.
Just be sure to talk to a doctor or natural health specialist to make sure your magnesium regiment is best for you.