What do these symptoms have in common?
- muscle tics, twitches and spasms
- cramping of all kinds
- heart palpitations and spasms such as angina
They’re all signs of low magnesium.
80% of the population is low in this important mineral. One hundred years ago the average intake was 500 mg magnesium per day whereas it’s now closer to 150 mg, mostly due to our over-processed food. The RDA is 350 mg per day but most experts agree that it should be closer to 600 – 900mg/day.
Besides improving the above symptoms of magnesium deficiency, critical “behind-the-scenes” effects of magnesium in our bodies include:
- Activates ATP inside cells, which helps create energy
- Activates nerves and muscles
- Helps digest carbohydrates, proteins, and fats
- Serves as a building block for DNA and RNA synthesis
- Works as a precursor for serotonin and other neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals
In addition to not getting enough in our food supply, the following are causes of magnesium depletion:
- alcohol and coffee consumption
- prescription drugs, especially ones that suppress stomach acid, such as Prilosec and Nexium
- athletes that sweat and don’t replace electrolytes
- excessive sugar and protein consumption
- unbalanced calcium intake
The ideal ratio is usually two parts magnesium to one part calcium since there’s more calcium in our diets so we need less from supplements. Magnesium is necessary to absorb calcium into the bones. If there’s too much calcium it can cause muscles to be tight, including the heart, and can actually cause angina. Magnesium, on the other hand, helps the muscles to relax, relieving angina as well as cramping in all our other muscles. In fact if calcium and magnesium are out of balance, it can cause brittle bones and also create gallstones, kidney stones, and heel spurs.
Determining magnesium deficiency through bloodwork is tricky. Conventional lab testing, which evaluates magnesium in serum, is misleading. As Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND explains: “the body jealously guard’s total magnesium” because it is needed to maintain heart health, including regulating the rhythm of the heart. So by the time magnesium deficiency shows up in serum blood work it is grossly depleted. It’s more accurate to use red blood cells to measure magnesium levels.
Let’s review the many forms of magnesium. .
Magnesium Malate and Magnesium Citrate (powder) can cause loose bowels and may be used as a stool softener. If this is a goal, use one of these forms. If your bowels don’t need to be any softer, use the Magnesium Buffered Chelate or Glycinate form. Another option for bypassing bowel side effects is the MagneGel, which can be applied topically to arms and legs and avoid the gut altogether. Yet another form, Magnesium Threonate ( Neuromag) has superior effect in the brain, if brain inflammation has been identified through functional testing such as our TRIAD test. It passes through the blood-brain barrier more effectively than other forms and can eliminate irritability, insomnia, and anxiety. Magnesium comes in capsules, tablets, gel and powder. Use whichever form will help you use it consistently.
Magnesium is best taken in the evening, as it has a relaxing effect, and promotes sound sleep.
And what does chocolate have to do with magnesium? Chocolate is an excellent source of magnesium, which is why so many people crave it regularly. Craving chocolate is a clue that you need more.
Add some to your regimen and see if it doesn’t help you feel better overall!