A magnesium deficiency refers to a lack of magnesium intake in a person’s diet that can lead to a host of unwanted symptoms; and those who suffer from it are usually completely unaware the condition even exists. The deficiency does not usually show up during blood tests as only 1% of the body’s magnesium is stored in the blood, with over half residing in the bones and the remainder can be found in soft tissue. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, and is responsible for upwards of 300 metabolic processes, including the absorption into one’s system of calcium and other minerals. A mild magnesium deficiency can present itself in many different ways including unpleasant psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression and poor memory; and a severe magnesium deficiency can lead to more serious disorders such as high blood pressure, seizures, systemic cramping, spasms and heart failure. This article looks at the signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency, and at ways to naturally increase the body’s magnesium levels by introducing certain foods and supplements into the diet.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
The human body should ideally contain about 25g of magnesium according to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, and the recommended daily intake is approximately 400mg for men and 300mg for women. When the diet is lacking in sufficient magnesium it can lead to a long list of symptoms that are often mistaken for other disorders, and patients can suffer for many years before a proper diagnosis is reached. The symptoms are extremely diverse, as magnesium is responsible for so many different functions within the human body. It is estimated that two thirds of the American population suffer from some degree of deficiency. One of the main signs of magnesium deficiency is chronic fatigue, and sufferers also experience a wide range of other symptoms including loss of appetite, nausea, anxiety, hyperventilation, muscle cramps, nighttime leg cramps, and weakness. If the deficiency is left untreated, more serious symptoms can occur including seizures, personality changes, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
It is important to bear in mind that the mere presence of these symptoms does not necessarily signal a magnesium deficiency, and tests should be performed by a qualified doctor or natural health practitioner before a firm diagnosis is made. Doctors will usually perform a standard serum magnesium test to determine the level of magnesium in the body; however, the reliability of this test has been disputed. Even if magnesium is found in the blood, it does not mean that it is present at a cellular level, where it is most needed. One method of testing which is proving to be more accurate is the Exa Test, which analyzes tissue from the heart, muscles, and organs to determine the body’s magnesium level.
Natural Treatments for Magnesium Deficiency
If a patient is diagnosed with a magnesium deficiency, they will have a number of different treatment options from which to choose. For serious deficiencies, magnesium can be given intravenously or by inhaling through a nebulizer, but these methods should not be attempted without the supervision of a healthcare practitioner, as too much magnesium can lead to diarrhea and other unpleasant side effects in some patients. Magnesium can also be absorbed through the skin and is available as a topical cream or oil. Additionally, it can also be added to bath water. A 15 minute bath in a solution of 1% Epsom Salts has been found to raise plasma magnesium levels in the body, and increase magnesium excretion in urine.
Many health food stores offer dietary supplements containing magnesium citrate which is readily absorbed by the human body, and this is a great option for those who are unable to get sufficient magnesium due to poor eating habits. The safest and possibly the most effective way of increasing the body’s magnesium level is by eating magnesium rich foods. Spinach, cashews, soy milk, legumes, and avocados are all fantastic sources of magnesium. One ounce of almonds can provide 80mg of magnesium in a single serving. Magnesium can also be found in mineral and bottled water, but the amount can vary wildly between brands. Foods consumed should ideally be organic and GMO-free for optimal health and the least number of additives.
As well as finding ways to introduce magnesium into the body, it is important to ensure that the individual is not losing excess amounts of magnesium through poor diet and lifestyle. Diuretics such as tea, coffee, and alcohol cause magnesium loss through excess urination, sweating and prolonged stress. In order to correctly absorb magnesium the body must have a good balance of antioxidants, and the presence of boron and other trace minerals is also essential for effective magnesium absorption. Once the body’s magnesium levels begin to rise, patients will begin to feel more energetic and focused, while physical symptoms gradually start to disappear. Once the body has returned to normal and the patient begins to feel healthier, it is important to carefully monitor the amount of magnesium in the diet to prevent symptoms returning. There is currently no known case of magnesium overdose as any excess magnesium is removed by the kidneys.
A varied diet that includes a wide range of vitamins and minerals is advisable. Millions of people across the country are currently suffering from magnesium deficiency, and many are relying on prescription medicines to alleviate symptoms which could be cured by simple dietary adjustments. Healthy, clean food still remains the best form of medicine for almost every disease imaginable, and the correct diet will ensure the body has everything it needs for optimum health and wellbeing.
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