22Proper nutrition and nutrient-dense whole food supplements can keep the body functioning at optimal performance even under stressful conditions. Magnesium, a vital mineral nutrient, is perhaps one of the most important natural stress remedies because of its effectiveness, record of safe use, availability and value.

Magnesium is particularly good for stress – our natural fight-or-flight response. During such times many turn to alcohol, drugs or pharmaceuticals, but unfortunately those solutions create their own particular set of problems. So, instead of medicating, your best strategy is maintaining a healthy lifestyle and potentially avoiding the harmful physical health conditions that can emerge from stressful living. 

A good part of a healthy lifestyle is lots of magnesium, an abundant mineral found in nature. Magnesium gives you several stress-reducing advantages:

It’s simple to use – Magnesium is an effective solution for people who occasionally need help or relief from anxiety and stress. It has no side effects, no addiction risk, and can be moderated simply and effectively.

It’s withdrawal free – Magnesium is simply side-effect free, unlike many pharmaceuticals which have severe health risks. 

Helps maintain control – Magnesium does not cause any personality changes like alcohol and prescription drugs do. 

It’s easily absorbed by the body – Magnesium is needed for detoxification enzymes in the liver; the Krebs cycle that produces energy; relaxing muscles and tissues. Fully absorbed magnesium also helps the intestinal muscle relax naturally so that normal peristaltic function makes constipation a thing of the past!

It’s Involved in 700-800 Enzyme Processes: Magnesium is a required cofactor in hundreds of enzyme processes. It helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, keeps the heart beat steady, and helps bones remain strong. It’s also involved in regulating blood glucose levels and aids in the production of energy and protein. There is ongoing research into the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. (Medline)

Food Sources

Most dietary magnesium comes from vegetables, such as dark green, leafy vegetables. Other foods that are good sources of magnesium:

  • Fruits or vegetables (such as bananas, dried apricots, and avocados)
  • Nuts (such as almonds and cashews)
  • Peas and beans (legumes), seeds
  • Whole grains (such as brown rice and millet)
  • Milk

Deficiency Symptoms:

Symptoms of poor magnesium intake can include muscle cramps, facial tics, poor sleep, chronic pain, anxiety, hyperactivity, difficulty sleeping.

Less than 30% of U.S. adults consume the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of magnesium. And nearly 20% get only half of the magnesium they need daily to remain healthy.

You can get a sense of where your intake may lie by monitoring your lifestyle to ensure magnesium balance and good health. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you may be at risk for low magnesium intake:

  1. You drink excessive amounts of carbonated beverages. These contain phosphate that bind with magnesium inside the digestive tract, rendering it unavailable to the body. 
  2. Eating refined and sugary starches – these are anti-nutrient products that cause the body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys. The more sweet foods and processed baked goods you have in your diet, the more likely you are to be deficient in magnesium and other vital nutrients.
  3. You experience excess stress – Both physical and emotional stress can be a cause of magnesium deficiency and a lack of magnesium tends to magnify the stress reaction, worsening the problem. In studies, adrenaline and cortisol, were associated with stress, anxiety and decreased magnesium.
  4. You drink excess coffee, tea or other caffeinated drinks the kidneys control magnesium levels and caffeine causes the kidneys to release extra magnesium regardless of body status.
  5. You take pharmaceuticals – the effects of certain drugs have been shown to reduce magnesium levels in the body by increasing magnesium loss through kidney excretion.
  6. You consume excess alcohol – alcohol lowers magnesium available to the cells by increasing the excretion of magnesium by the kidneys. In studies, clinical magnesium deficiency was found in 30% of alcoholics.
  7. You take calcium supplements – without associated magnesium or supplements with magnesium in less than 1:1 ratio have been shown in studies to reduce magnesium absorption and retention.  And, whereas calcium supplementation can have negative effects on magnesium levels, magnesium supplementation actually improves the body’s use of calcium.

Research now supports at least a 1:1 calcium to magnesium ratio for improved bone support and reduced risk of disease. This is due not only to the increased evidence pointing to widespread magnesium deficiency, but also concerns over the risk of arterial calcification when low magnesium stores are coupled with high calcium intake

Adequate magnesium is necessary for nerve conduction and is also associated with electrolyte imbalances that affect the nervous system. Low magnesium is also associated with personality changes and sometimes depression.

As we get older, we are particularly vulnerable to low magnesium status because of reduced magnesium metabolism through changes the GI tract and kidneys. When body stores of magnesium run low, risks of overt hypomagnesaemia (magnesium deficiency) increase significantly, so it’s particularly important that you work to improve your magnesium intake. 

Magnesium deficiency is known as the silent epidemic because definitive testing for deficiency remains elusive. Yet while the identification of magnesium deficiency may be unclear, its importance is undeniable.

The longer your intake remains low, the more your bodily stores will be diminished, showing side effects of long term deficiency, according to Dr. Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., and expert on magnesium therapy.

If you haven’t heard much about magnesium and its importance to good health, now is the time to learn. A great place to start is Dr. Dean’s book, “The Magnesium Miracle.” 

**Note – I receive no monetary compensation for any recommendations made on this blog. Products or endorsements are because I believe they serve my clients best.

References:

Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. National Academies Press. Washington, DC, 1997. PMID: 23115811www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23115811.

Mason JB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 218.

National Institutes of Health. Magnesium: fact sheet for health professionals. Updated February 11, 2016. ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/#h5.

Yu ASL. Disorders of magnesium and phosphorus. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 119.

Dean C. The Magnesium Miracle. New York: Ballantine Books; 2007. 

Weiss GH, Sluss PM, Linke CA. Changes in urinary magnesium, citrate and oxalate levels due to cola consumption. Urology 1992;39:331-3. 

 

King DE, Mainous AG 3rd, Geesey ME, Woolson RF. Dietary magnesium and C-reactive protein levels. Journal Of The American College Of Nutrition. 2005 Jun;24(3):166-71. Available from: MEDLINE with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 6, 2009. 

Irwin R, Rippe J. Irwin and Rippe’s Intensive Care Medicine. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins; 2008.

Wester PO. Magnesium. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1987; 45:1305-12.

Seelig MS. The requirement of magnesium by the normal adult: Summary and analysis of published data. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1964;14:342-90. 

Bernstein A, Luggen AS. Nutrition for the Older Adult. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers; 2010. 

Norman DA, Fordtran JS, Brinkley U, et al. Jejunal and ileal adaptation to alterations in dietary calcium. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 1981 ;67: 1599-603. 

Seelig MS. The requirement of magnesium by the normal adult: Summary and analysis of published data. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1964;14:342-90. 

Bernstein A, Luggen AS. Nutrition for the Older Adult. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers; 2010.