Many of us do not get enough magnesium and this can generate serious medical conditions.  Part of the problem is that our soils have become depleted of this essential mineral from over farming, use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides and over all bad farming practices.  Many minerals including magnesium  have often been removed from the foods we eat by the way we prepare them.  So often, food preparation involves boiling.  Boiling vegetables and fruits causes minerals to exit the foods and end up in the hot water and then thrown away.

Magnesium is involved in over 300 different reactions in the body and brain.  So as you can see, it plays many different roles.  Some of these roles include hormone shuttling and production, enzyme activation, assisting in nutrient uptake, cell adhesion, maintaining membrane potential, maintaining electrolyte balance and the list goes on.  Since most of the magnesium is found inside your cells, it can not be measured in the blood making it difficult to diagnose this condition chemically.  In some cases hair samples can be taken and analyzed to get a history of magnesium imbalances.  Magnesium deficiencies have been linked to heavy metal poisoning as magnesium protects cells from mercury, lead and aluminum amongst others.  Low levels of magnesium in children have been reported to be associated with heavy metal poisoning and the development of learning problems. 

Reasons for Magnesium deficiency

Magnesium by itself is not well absorbed so a chelated form is the best to take.  Chelates come in 3 general forms: salt, organic and amino acid chelates.  Salt forms are not well absorbed but the organic and amino acid chelates are.  For example, magnesium chloride is an example of a salt chelate.  Magnesium gluconate is an organic chelate and magnesium aspartate is an amino acid chelate.  The gluconate and aspartate forms have good absorption.

Magnesium deficiency can come about for many reasons.  Excessive imbibing of alcohol and coffee depletes magnesium stores quickly and so does the use of recreational drugs such as cocaine.  Processed sugars and high calcium levels lower magnesium levels.  Certain medical conditions deplete magnesium stores such as diabetes, pharmaceuticals, mental and physical stress, diarrhea and of course surgery.  

Magnesium plays an important role with adenosine triphosphate (ATP), protein, DNA, and fatty acid synthesis as well as the breakdown of glucose.  This mineral has the ability to relax muscle and plays an important role in dilation of blood vessels and is important for bone-building.  It is a major component in maintaining membrane potential because it determines transport of sodium, potassium and calcium in and out of the cell.

Magnesium deficiency generates symptoms such as tremors, lack of balance, fatigue, anxiety, muscle tension, dizziness, anorexia, hair loss, hypoglycemia, heart arrhythmias and hardening of the arteries.  Cardiovascular disease has been associated with magnesium deficiencies.  This includes plaque formation generating atherosclerosis, angina, hypertension (high blood pressure), elevated levels of bad cholesterol, and coronary artery disease (CAD).  Research demonstrates that low magnesium levels cause changes to cardiac muscle such as cardiac muscle cell death and calcium deposits.  Much of these problems have been attributed to  increased fat oxidation and the generation of fatty free radicals.  High blood pressure is linked to magnesium deficiency because the blood vessels can’t dilate.

Individuals who are diabetic and have low magnesium levels have been reported to have less insulin secreted by the pancreas and lower insulin sensitivity for its receptor.  This is believed to happen due to loss of magnesium in the urine.  Individuals with type 2 diabetes non-insulin-dependent have insulin resistance due to the low levels magnesium.  Insulin requires magnesium to bind to its receptor for proper insulin binding. In fact, low magnesium levels are used as a way to predict the development of type 2 diabetes.

Magnesium and bone function

Magnesium is very important for bone function and low levels of this mineral may generate osteoporosis by generating low bone density because of impaired vitamin D function.  Magnesium is important for vitamin D metabolism.  Low levels of vitamin D impair bone-building.  Magnesium pathways are very complex and because of this a deficiency in magnesium carries many repercussions.

It has recently been suggested that a magnesium deficiency may contribute to migraine headaches. Magnesium is required for transmitter function and blood vessel dilation.  Low magnesium may raise blood pressure levels contributing to the pain that migraine sufferers experience.

All in all, a deficiency in magnesium affects every cell in the body.  If you’re having trouble healing, have muscle contraction problems, experiencing fatigue, have cardiovascular problems and brain dysfunction, now is the time to see your healthcare provider and see if you have a deficiency in magnesium.  Eating foods rich in magnesium and/or supplementation with a magnesium chelate may be what you need to bring you back to life again.