Magnesium plays important roles in the body. It is needed for enzyme activity by over 300 different biological processes. All enzymes associated with ATP require Magnesium. And, you may know that adenosine triphosphate (ATP) provides energy to all cells.
Depending on just how much magnesium in the blood is considered normal, anywhere from 4.8% to 47% of all patients in hospitals are deficient in magnesium. Up to 65% of patients in intensive care are deficient, and low levels of Magnesium are associated with a higher mortality rate.
How Much Magnesium is Required?
The daily dietary allowance for magnesium set by the National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine is 6 mg per kg of body mass. On average, this means about 400-420 mg per day for men and 310-320 mg per day for women.
It is estimated that between 50% and 85% of those living in the United States fail to reach these levels of magnesium intake. A major reason for this is the high consumption of refined and processed foods that are deficient in magnesium. One study, for example, showed that refining and processing wheat to white flour, rice to polished rice, and corn to starch removes from 82% to 97% of the magnesium.
What Are the Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency?
Because magnesium is used in all energy producing systems as well as other systems, the symptoms of magnesium deficiency are widespread an varied. Here are some conditions to look for:
- Generalized weakness
- Muscle cramps
- Arteriosclerotic vascular disease
- Atrial or ventricular arrhythmias
- Atrial tachycardia
- Atrial fibrillation
- Exercise-induced chest pain
- Neuromuscular irritability
- Sudden death
Magnesium Deficiency: 8 Warning Signs
According to Norman Shealy, MD, Ph.D, an American neurosurgeon and a pioneer in pain medicine, “Every known illness is associated with a magnesium deficiency and it’s the missing cure to many diseases.” Not only does magnesium help regulate calcium, potassium and sodium, but it’s essential for cellular health and a critical component of over 300 biochemical functions in the body.
Even glutathione, your body’s most powerful antioxidant that has even been called “the master antioxidant,” requires magnesium for its synthesis. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of this, and millions suffer daily from magnesium deficiency without even knowing it.
A major problem with many of these milder symptoms is that people often think that their condition is “normal.” They do not ask their doctor to test their magnesium levels so they do not take corrective action.
What Foods Contain Magnesium?
A hundred years ago, most people drank was just as it came from a water well. Water from a well contains minerals from the soil that our bodies absorbed. Today we call this “hard” water. Now we typically remove these minerals from our water, or use a water “softener” to get more pure water. So, we have to look to food sources for our minerals, including magnesium.
Magnesium is plentiful in natural foods. Some good source of magnesium include:
- Dark leafy green vegetables (as a component of chlorophyll)
- Coca derivatives, especially dark chocolate
- Nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts) and seeds
- Whole grains (like wheat with its bran and germ)
- Soy products like soy flour and tofu
- Seafoods (fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and halibut)
Of course, these sources of magnesium need to be grown and cultivated from soils that have sufficient magnesium so the plants can draw magnesium into their cells. The website Ag Professional shows the concentrations of magnesium in Kansas soils ranges from 38 centimoles per kg of soil down to 4 centimoles per kg. Since Kansas grows a great deal of wheat, corn, soybeans, grain sorghum, and hay, both people and animals consuming their produce may not be getting the expected amount of magnesium.
This is of particular concern where farmers may only fertilize their crops with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK). These elements make the plants grow strong roots with tall and strong stalks, and plentiful produce. But, on low magnesium soils, the farmer should add magnesium to the soil (with products such as dolomitic limestone, Epsom salts, potassium magnesium sulfate).
Unfortunately, we don’t know the condition of the soil used to grow food products we buy in the store.
How We Deplete Our Bodies of Magnesium
Magnesium is absorbed into the blood stream along the entire intestinal tract. Ionic magnesium is most efficiently absorbed in the small intestine.
But some substances can bind to the magnesium ion, preventing it from being absorbed. High dietary fiber, phytate foods (like bran and seeds), high oxalate foods (like Spinach bran and rhubarb), and high phosphate foods (like dairy, fish and meat) can reduce the absorption of magnesium.
Your kidneys are the primary exit point for magnesium. The kidneys control the blood magnesium level within a narrow range. Kidneys can remove excess magnesium and conserve magnesium when you are depleted. Diuretic drugs that increase urine flow can prevent re-absorption in the kidneys and cause unwanted magnesium loss. Lipid-lowering drugs also cause excess magnesium loss.
Also, alcohol, caffeine and sugar accelerate magnesium loss. Within minutes of consuming alcohol magnesium excretion can increase above normal by as much as 260%.
Organic Source of Magnesium and Other Minerals
Whole leaf wheat grass powder when grown, processed and stored under optimal conditions is considered one of the most potent leafy green vegetables available. Consider organic wheat grass as a source of your daily magnesium.
References for Further Reading
- Magnesium Deficiency: A Cause of Heterogenous Disease in Humans, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research
- Magnesium Deficiency: Pathophysiologic and Clinical Overview, published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases
- Implications of Magnesium Deficiency in Type 2 Diabetes: A Review, published in Biological Trace Element Research