Do I need Magnesium?

HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED MAGNESIUM TREATMENTS?

Magnesium deficiency is not easily diagnosed, which is why so many people operate with low-level chronic deficiencies.

Many common symptoms include: eczema, allergies, headaches, anxiety and chronic pain.

Benefits reported by those who use transdermal applications of magnesium (MSM Magnesium Lotion, Aloe Magnesium Gel) include:

  • Increased sleep
  • Reduced muscle aches, pains, cramping and spasms
  • Healthy skin and reduced outbreaks of eczema and psoriasis
  • Better relaxation and stress management
  • Increased energy levels and improved moods
  • Increased athletic performance

As there are low to no side effects from Magnesium therapy, a proactive stance by some of the medical community is providing magnesium therapy for patients whose symptoms or diagnoses may benefit from this. These included:

  • ADHD
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Tremors
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Arrhythmias
  • Hypertension
  • Migraines
  • Circulatory disturbances
    (stroke, cardiac infarction, arteriosclerosis)
  • Cluster headaches
  • Cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Osteoporosis
  • Asthma
  • Stress-dependent disorders
  • Tinnitus
  • Ataxia
  • Confusion
  • Preeclampsia
  • Weakness

 

In addition, dietary habits and other risk factors can play a part in magnesium status. Conditions and circumstances of high risk groups include:

  • Low stomach acid, common in older adults
  • Low magnesium diets, processed foods and sodas
  • Soft water sources
  • Active calcium supplementation
  • Certain prescription and over the counter medications
  • Stress, surgery, and chronic disorders such as diabetes
  • Diarrhea and vomiting for any reason
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Crohn’s disease, celiac sprue, and any disorder of the digestive or intestinal function
  • Kidney disorders
  • Genetic magnesium absorption disorders

DO ANY OF THESE APPLY TO YOU?

1. Do you drink carbonated beverages on a regular basis?

2. Do you regularly eat pastries, cakes, desserts, candies or other sweet foods?

Refined sugar is not only a zero magnesium product but it also causes the body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys. The process of producing refined sugar from sugar cane removes molasses, stripping the magnesium content entirely.

3. Do you experience a lot of stress in your life, or have you recently had a major medical procedure such as surgery?

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, byproducts of the “fight or flight” reaction associated with stress and anxiety, were associated with decreased magnesium.

4. Do you drink coffee, tea, or other caffeinated drinks daily?

Magnesium levels are controlled in the body in large part by the kidneys, which filter and excrete excess magnesium and other minerals. But caffeine causes the kidneys to release extra magnesium regardless of body status.

5. Do you take a diuretic, heart medication, asthma medication, birth control pills or estrogen replacement therapy?

The effects of certain drugs have been shown to reduce magnesium levels in the body by increasing magnesium loss through excretion by the kidneys

6. Do you drink more than seven alcoholic beverages per week?

The effect of alcohol on magnesium levels is similar to the effect of diuretics: it 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.10

Increased alcohol intake also contributes to decreased efficiency of the digestive system, as well as Vitamin D deficiency, both of which can contribute to low magnesium levels.11

7. Do you take calcium supplements without magnesium or calcium supplements with magnesium in less than a 1:1 ratio?

As the body tends to retain calcium, when in a magnesium deficient state, several researchers now support a 1:1 calcium to magnesium ratio for improved bone support and reduced risk of disease.

8. Do you experience any of the following:

  • Anxiety?
  • Times of hyperactivity?
  • Difficulty getting to sleep?
  • Difficulty staying asleep?

The above symptoms may be neurological signs of magnesium deficiency. 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

9. Do you experience any of the following:

  • Painful muscle spasms?
  • Muscle cramping?
  • Fibromyalgia?
  • Facial tics?
  • Eye twitches, or involuntary eye movements?

Neuromuscular symptoms such as these are among the classic signs of a potential magnesium deficit.

Without magnesium, our muscles would be in a constant state of contraction.

Magnesium is a required element of muscle relaxation, and without it our muscles would be in a constant state of contraction. Calcium, on the other hand, signals muscles to contract. As noted in the book The Magnesium Factor, the two minerals are “two sides of a physiological coin; they have actions that oppose one another, yet they function as a team.”8

10. Did you answer yes to any of the above questions and are also age 55 or older?

Older adults are particularly vulnerable to low magnesium status. It has been shown that aging, stress and disease all contribute to increasing magnesium needs, yet most older adults actually take in less magnesium from food sources than when they were younger.

In addition, magnesium metabolism may be less efficient as we grow older, as changes the GI tract and kidneys contribute to older adults absorbing less and retaining less magnesium.15

What If I answered No to all of the above?

If you answered no to all of the above questions, you may be able to rely on high food sources of magnesium. The foods magnesium is found in include:

  • Beans and nuts
  • Whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat bread
  • Green leafy vegetables.

References:

  1. Combs GF, Nielsen FH. Health significance of calcium and magnesium: Examples from human studies. In: World Health Organization. Calcium and Magnesium in Drinking Water: Public health significance. Geneva: World Health Organization Press; 2009. []
  2. Pao EM, Mickle SJ. Problem nutrients in the United States. Food Technology. 1981:35:58-79. []
  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. []
  4. Dean C. The Magnesium Miracle. New York: Ballantine Books; 2007. [] [] []
  5. Weiss GH, Sluss PM, Linke CA. Changes in urinary magnesium, citrate and oxalate levels due to cola consumption. Urology 1992;39:331-3. []
  6. Brink E. J., Beynen A. C., Dekker P. R., Beresteijn E.C.H., Meer R. Interaction of calcium and phosphate decreases ileal magnesium solubility and apparent magnesium absorption. The Journal of Nutrition. 1992; 122:580-586 []
  7. Vartanian L, Schwartz, M, Brownell, K. Effects of Soft Drink Consumption on Nutrition and Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Public Health. 2007;97(4):667-675. [] []
  8. Seelig M, Rosanoff A. The Magnesium Factor. New York: Avery Books; 2003. [] [] []
  9. Heaney RP, Rafferty K. Carbonated beverages and urinary calcium excretion. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2001; 74:343–347. []
  10. Irwin R, Rippe J. Irwin and Rippe’s Intensive Care Medicine. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins; 2008. []
  11. Shane SR, Flink EB. Magnesium deficiency in alcohol addiction and withdrawal. Magnesium and trace elements. 1991-1992;10(2-4):263-8. []
  12. Wester PO. Magnesium. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1987; 45:1305-12. []
  13. 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. []
  14. 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. []
  15. Bernstein A, Luggen AS. Nutrition for the Older Adult. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers; 2010. []
  16. Driskell J. Nutrition and Exercise Concerns of Middle Age. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2009. [