Magnesium plays an important role in over 300 enzyme systems that regulate various biochemical reactions in the body, so it is essential for our health.
It is found in all nerves and muscles in the body and is therefore also needed for all our movements, and the function of the heart.
Here are the roles of magnesium:
- Regulates blood pressure
- Controls blood sugar
- Protein synthesis
- Energy production (especially in oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis)
- Synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant Glutathione
- Active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, which is vital for regular heart rhythm, muscle contractions, and nerve impulse conduction
- Structural development of bones
Magnesium deficiency is unfortunately very common, so these are its symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- fatigue, weakness
- appetite loss
These are the symptoms of a severe magnesium deficiency:
- low blood pressure
- abnormal heart rhythms and coronary spasms
- muscle twitches, spasms, or cramps
- numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness
- personality changes
Extremely severe magnesium deficiency disrupts the balance of minerals in the body and leads to hypocalcemia (low serum calcium) and hypokalemia (low serum potassium).
Magnesium deficiency is caused by various factors; first of all, the soil is not devoid of it due to the modern farming techniques, and the use of chemicals and fertilizers. Moreover, our body often faces difficulties to absorb it, which can be a result of:
- resistance and type @ diabetes
- Insulin GI disorders (Crohn’s Disease, Celiac’s Disease, regional enteritis, leaky gut)
- Alcoholism and alcohol dependence
The main cause of magnesium deficiency is still out diet, which is rich in overly processed foods that are loaded with chemicals, preservatives, and additives.
Such foods destroy our digestive systems and contain no nutrients. Also, the vegetables, fruits, and whole food products we consume these days have been harvested long before they were ready, and were also sprayed with chemicals and pesticides, so they are low in nutrients too.
Long-term Effects of Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium deficiency can be a serious health threat, as it leads to various ailments and diseases, as follows:
Magnesium is linked to headache-promoting factors like vasoconstriction (the constriction of blood vessels) and the release of neurotransmitters. Studies have found that people who suffer from migraines have reduced serum and tissue levels of magnesium.
- Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease
Optimal magnesium levels in the body have been confirmed to prevent stroke, hypertension, and heart disease.
A study conducted by The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities estimated the risk factors for heart disease and serum magnesium levels in over 14,000 African American and Caucasian women and men, aged 45 to 64, and then conducted a follow-up after 12 years.
The findings revealed that participants with the highest serum magnesium levels had a 38% lower risk of heart attack than those with the lowest.
- Type 2 Diabetes
Researchers have confirmed the link between type 2 diabetes and magnesium deficiency. Since it is vital for the metabolism and regulation of glucose, its low levels lead to insulin resistance, which is the precursor to diabetes.
This condition boosts the loss of magnesium through the urine, and thus worsening the deficiency, and affecting the secretion and function of insulin in the body.
Magnesium is very important in the formation and building of bones, and it also affects osteoclasts and osteoblasts (which play a role in bone formation and healing), concentrations of parathyroid hormone (for bone rebuilding/repair), and the concentrations of the active form of vitamin D.
Therefore, magnesium is needed for the density of bones, and if Its levels are low, one is at an increased risk of osteoporosis.
Testing for Magnesium Deficiency
In most cases, people take a blood test to check their magnesium deficiency, but since 50-60% of the body’s magnesium is stored in the bones, serum levels are not the best way to determine the levels of this mineral in the entire body or specific tissue levels. Other options include:
- Magnesium Stool test: It estimates the amount of magnesium in the stool.
- Measuring magnesium concentrations in erythrocytes, urine, and saliva
- Measuring Ionized concentrations in the blood, serum, and plasma
- Magnesium-loading or tolerance test: This test includes parenteral infusion of a large dose of magnesium and testing urinary outputs.
Yet, the best, natural way to ensure your magnesium levels are optimized, consume a diet rich in magnesium-high foods.
Such foods include nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains.
This is a list of the richest magnesium dietary sources:
- Pumpkin or Squash Seeds (317mg per quarter cup)
- Brazil Nuts (133mg per quarter cup)
- Salmon (92mg per 2.5k ounce fillet)
- Dry Roasted Almonds (80mg in 1 ounce)
- Spinach (83mg per half cup, cooked)
- Black Eyed Peas (80mg per half cup)
- Swiss Chard (80mg per half cup, cooked)
- Tempeh (77mg per half cup)
- Dry roasted Cashews (74mg in 1 ounce)
- Oil Roasted Peanuts (63mg per quarter cup)
- Quinoa (63mg per half cup)
- Black Beans (60mg per half cup)
- Edamame (52mg per half cup)
- Avocado (44-55mg per 1 cup, cubed)
- Baked Potato with skin (43mg per 3.5-ounce potato)
- Brown Rice (42mg per half cup)
- Plain, Low-fat Yogurt (42mg per 8 ounces)
- Instant Oatmeal (36mg per packet)
- Kidney Beans (35mg per half cup)
- Medium Banana (32mg)
In case you prefer supplements, make sure you consult your doctor about the proper type and right dosage, as they might interact with some medications you take.
To sum up, if your diet is rich in foods that contain this important mineral, you will be able to prevent serious health issue, and you will boost your health in many ways.