About 90% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. This extremely important vitamin (really a hormone) is best manufactured by the skin through exposure to sunlight. Of course you may also get it from foods, such as fish and eggs. Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to higher rate of infections, cancer, bone demineralization, and heart disease. Nevertheless, a mineral exists that is responsible for over 300 chemical reactions in the body. It is equally as important as vitamin D. It is the one mineral in which most Americans are highly deficient. No need to say “OMG.” Take off the “O.” and just say “Mg.” It’s Magnesium!
Why is Magnesium So Important?
In addition to being responsible for over 300 chemical reactions in the body, magnesium is crucial for the transmission of nerve and muscle impulses throughout the body. (This explains the signs below which show you are dangerously low in your magnesium levels.). Magnesium is a macromineral, meaning like the other electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and alike, you need large amounts of it. Sufficient amount of magnesium in the body alleviates depression, dizziness, muscle weakness and twitching, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), among other things.
- Magnesium helps prevent calcification, or plaque buildup, in the arteries which later leads to atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular maladies. In fact, a large majority of cardio problems may be directly related to low magnesium levels.
- Along with Vitamin B6, magnesium reduces your chance of getting kidney stones.
- It is effective in preventing premature labor and convulsions in pregnant women.
- Studies have shown that taking magnesium supplements during pregnancy dramatically reduces the chances of birth defects.
- 70% lower chance of a child being born with mental retardation if mother was supplementing with magnesium.
How Deficient Is The Typical American?
- 55% of Americans are well below the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 400 mg a day.
- 25% are near the RDA.
That means 80% of Americans are deficient. I would extrapolate from these numbers that in fact more people are deficient since certain lifestyle choices (mentioned below) lessen your body’s ability to absorb magnesium. Also, the USDA is notorious for setting their RDA too low for what the body really needs (e.g. Vitamins B, C, & D).
Best Food Sources of Magnesium
Where can you find this one mineral in which most Americans are highly deficient? (The best are in purple.)
- Bananas (Read our article on prebiotic food sources)
- Brown Rice
- Cacao (Read our article on cacao and dark chocolate.)
- Garlic (Read our article on the health benefits of garlic.)
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Nuts (in particular almonds & cashews)
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Salmon (and other cold fish like sardines and mackerel)
- Whole Grains, especially Quinoa
Herbs that contain adequate amounts of magnesium include:
- Fennel Seed (Read our article on fennel seeds.)
- Licorice (Read our article on health benefits of licorice.)
When Should You Increase Your Intake of Magnesium?
The following activities and lifestyle choices inhibit the body’s ability to absorb the scant amount of magnesium the typical American is consuming.
- Heavy consumption of alcohol
- Heavy consumption of carbonated beverages
- High sugar & processed food diet
- High caffeine food & drink diet
- High-stress lifestyle
- Those on asthma, diuretics, estrogen replacement, heart medication, & birth control pills.
- High fluoride-laced diet (Which is everyone since our water is fluoridated and most of our processed food is prepared in fluoridated water. Not to mention we inhale most of our fluoride during baths.)
- If you are consuming calcium pills without a magnesium pill.
- Or simply a diet low in magnesium.
Major Signs You Are Deficient in Magnesium
- Poor digestion
- Tachycardia (Rapid Heartbeat)
- Eye Twitching
- Muscle Cramping
- Muscle Spasms
- Chronic Pain
Nice Ancillary Benefits of Increasing Your Magnesium
- Magnesium is a natural sedative, perfect for those with anxiety issues.
- It is a natural sleep inducer, perfect for insomniacs and well…everyone else!
- It is a natural laxative (think of the old cartoon where the mom gives the kid Milk of Magnesia).
What To Look For In A Dietary Supplement?
Unfortunately, even those foods that are high in magnesium don’t pack as much of it as they once did due to pesticides & inferior soil quality. Given the dire need for magnesium, the one mineral in which most Americans are highly deficient, you should take a supplement. The keys in choosing the right magnesium pill are:
- Take a least 400 mg a day (normally one pill). Personally I take 800 mg/day.
- Purchase a magnesium complex pill that has at least 3-4 different types of magnesium in it (e.g. magnesium malate, magnesium chelate, magnesium citrate.)
- The cheapest magnesium pills are typically magnesium oxide, which is not easily absorbed by the digestive tract. Don’t get these!
- Try even intradermal (ID) or intravenous (IV) magnesium at an IV Therapy spa.
Like Vitamin D, no harm really exists if you take too much of it. And chances are you are already deficient in it. So increase your leafy greans and halibut or pop in a magnesium supplement. Trust me, it is one of the Top 3 vitamins/supplements you should be taking for the remainder of your blessed life. I have been taking it for 15 years. The sheep that you will be counting in your “sleepy time” will thank you for it.
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A. Gregory Luna
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