Magnesium - An Important MIneral

by Khyati Kapur

Magnesium - An Important MIneral

Do you remember the first time you had to eat broccoli, spinach, or one of the other “yucky,” healthy kinds of vegetables? Maybe your parents tried to force you to eat them at one point in your childhood. As the years went by, you may still have the faint memory of the time you ate these vegetables, and now have a natural aversion to trying them again. 

Hopefully after reading this you will reconsider and eat these kinds of foods, and why it is a fatal mistake to avoid them entirely.  

What is magnesium and why is it so important for us? Magnesium is a mineral that is naturally found in abundance throughout the earth in the soil, and gets absorbed by plants. In nature, magnesium is a critical element that plants require to carry out photosynthesis (plants making energy from sunlight exposure). Without adequate magnesium in the soil, plants are not as healthy, and can end up having stunted growth in their roots and leaves. 

Often times when we think of the minerals that we need to be healthy, we think of potassium (from bananas), and iron as the two that come to mind quickly. However, magnesium is a very important mineral that is also found abundantly in our own human bodies, and is involved in hundreds of different biochemical reactions to maintain the health of our muscles, tissues, and bones. As in plants, magnesium is a crucial element that works together with ATP, the energy molecule that is primarily produced in the mitochondria of our cells, to allow us to go about our daily activities. Assuming we are healthy and symptom-free, most of the magnesium that we receive from our food ends up being absorbed by our small intestine [1]. 

So, why should we care about magnesium? Logically, keeping in mind that since magnesium is required for proper functioning in both plants and people, wouldn’t it make sense that we would need magnesium to be healthy? We also know that sunlight is very important because direct sunlight allows our skin to produce vitamin D, another molecule that many people around the world are deficient in, and is needed for so many bodily functions. Magnesium has been found to directly influence vitamin D levels in the body; therefore, making sure to receive both of these for our bodies is critical [2]. The sad reality is that many people are not getting enough magnesium, as evidenced by studies that find people receiving less than the recommended daily amount (RDA) [3] 

What might explain why we are not getting enough magnesium? Read further on to find out the 3 big reasons why we aren’t getting enough, then some reasons why we need magnesium, and lastly the things we can do to get more magnesium for our bodies.

There are three main reasons why you’re probably not getting enough magnesium.  

First off, our soils are magnesium deficient. One to two hundred years ago, the people that lived in the U.S would have eaten crops that would have come from magnesium rich soils. The unfortunate reality now that we live in the 21st century is that from modern agricultural practices, such as monoculture (large farms that focus on only one or a few crops), synthetic fertilizers, excessive tillage, and a host of other large-scale farm operations, have led to magnesium-poor soils across the U.S and in many countries around the world. Since we as a society mainly depend on the food we buy at the supermarket, those crops that we get now are not like what our great-grandparents would have eaten. 

Secondly, our dietary choices are lacking in magnesium. If magnesium depleted soil were not enough, many Americans have succumbed to a fast-paced lifestyle, choosing to eat fast food, over-processed and sugary meals throughout the day, which helps explain why there is an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and other diseases across the U.S. These types of foods (chips, white bread, French fries, etc.) have little to no magnesium, and contribute to magnesium deficiency. Our dietary choices have a huge impact on our health, and so the foods we choose to eat directly influence whether we receive magnesium or not.

And most importantly, we are all battling with chronic stress and/or chronic illnesses. Stress by itself can cause us to feel awful, and produce many different symptoms (especially when we are chronically stressed). Stress has been found to decrease the levels of magnesium in our bodies, and thus chronic stress can lead to a person having a magnesium deficiency. Chronic stress can also inhibit proper digestion, as our “flight or fight” response will take over. So even if you eat healthy, if you are dealing with daily stress in your life, your body won’t be able to absorb magnesium and other nutrients effectively. Add a chronic illness on top of your stress, and your body will have a very tough time to maintain adequate magnesium levels in your tissues and cells, leading to symptoms such as muscle twitching or cramping. The following are a list of some chronic diseases that can prevent magnesium from being properly absorbed by your body:

  • IBS and “Leaky Gut”
  • Crohn’s Disease (IBD)
  • SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
  • Celiac Disease
  • Chronic low stomach acid (Hypochlorhydria) 

Our bodies need magnesium. Without it, our bodies will end up aging faster, as they will undergo oxidative stress and possibly contribute to chronic inflammation [4]. Magnesium has also been shown to improve sleep in people that have suffered from low magnesium levels [5]. It can also slow down the aging process and help prevent chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, migraines,  hypertension, and GERD. 

So, what’s the best way to get more magnesium into our bodies? Here are some key factors that will help:

  • Improve dietary choices: Remember those “yucky” vegetables that were mentioned at the beginning of this post? That’s right, leafy green vegetables (especially spinach), are a rich source of magnesium, and including them in your diet is crucial to get enough magnesium. Besides spinach, be sure to incorporate food such as almonds, potatoes, avocados, bananas, and broccoli into your diet, all of which are rich in magnesium.  
  • Reduce stress : Easier said than done, but it is very important to take steps to reduce stress if you want to properly absorb magnesium from your food, as well as not to lose the magnesium you already have in your body that could occur from excess stress. One great way to reduce stress would be to practice meditation. Check out our article, the science and benefits of meditation, for further information. 
  • Supplement with magnesium: Magnesium supplementation can be very beneficial to those who may not be getting enough from diet alone. One supplement that we use and would highly recommend is “Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium Glycinate Lysinate, 100% Chelated, Non-GMO.” This magnesium supplement is in a tablet form, and is a great way to increase magnesium in your body in addition to a healthy diet. 

The next time you walk in the grocery store and find yourself in the fresh produce section, embrace the leafy greens and other veggies that will nourish your body. If you have a family with kids, then be their role model, showing them that healthy eating is a life-saving investment for their future, one that will give them the opportunity to be free of the diseases that plague so many people in our modern times. By eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle, future generations could then follow by your example.  

 

PLEASE NOTE -  that this article is not in lieu of medical advice from your doctor. All content found on this website including: articles, text, images, audio, videos, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


References

[1]   Al Alawi, Abdullah M., Sandawana William Majoni, and Henrik Falhammar. "Magnesium and human health: perspectives and research directions." International Journal of Endocrinology 2018 (2018). 

[2]   Dai, Qi, et al. "Magnesium status and supplementation influence vitamin D status and metabolism: results from a randomized trial." The American journal of clinical nutrition 108.6 (2018): 1249-1258 

[3]   DiNicolantonio, James J., James H. O’Keefe, and William Wilson. "Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis." Open heart 5.1 (2018): e000668.

[4]   Rayssiguier, Y., et al. "Magnesium and ageing. I. Experimental data: importance of oxidative damage." Magnesium Research 6.4 (1993): 369-378.

[5]   Nielsen, Forrest H., LuAnn K. Johnson, and Huawei Zeng. "Magnesium supplementation improves indicators of low magnesium status and inflammatory stress in adults older than 51 years with poor quality sleep." Magnes Res 23.4 (2010): 158-68.



Khyati Kapur
Khyati Kapur

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